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Ever wonder what it takes to take a perfect photo? No millennials, I’m not talking about an iPhone photo, but a real photo you’d see in an art gallery, on a billboard or magazine. Perhaps it’s having the exact amount of light, an interesting angle, a beautiful model or subject as the center and the edits made to enhance it. Or perhaps it’s simply being born with a creative eye for it. That’s just how blessed it is for this week’s feature on TheCornerZine, French photographer Fanny Latour-Lambert. Speaking with us about the detailed in-and-outs of photography, keep on reading to see!
From what I’ve gathered, it sounds as if you’ve always known a career in the arts was for you. It just took sometime, a bit of experimenting and exploring to find your niche in the industry. Can you tell me a little more in depth about that journey, the ups, downs and everything in between.
I don't think I knew from the beginning that I'd actually succeed in anything related to creativity and images, but it was definitely a dream of mine! It all just started with discovering and becoming obsessed with photography. Back when I was 14, I was constantly shooting, till I started getting attention from bookers in modeling agencies. I started doing test shoots when I was 17 and got the attention of one booker in particular, who gave me a proper introduction into the fashion world. Introducing me to stylists, hair and make-up artists. It all started from here and gradually took shape.
Born and raised in France, now based in Paris, the magical ‘city of love’. Do you find that these fantasy surroundings hold the most inspiration in your photography style and work?
Even though the world is becoming more and more modern, there’s something about Paris that will never change and I find this city magically timeless. I guess it definitely had a certain impact on my photography, because I'm always after this timeless feeling in my pictures, mixing eras and blurring the line between now and then. I get a lot of inspiration from paintings, movies and documentary photographers from the 1920 to 1970.
You have features in the most well-known international magazines, such as The Wall Street Journal Magazine, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and ID (all of which are some of my absolute favourites). Not to pick and choose, but which do you prefer shooting for, men’s or women’s fashion?
It’s absolutely impossible for me to choose (Laughs, E.D.). Each one allows me to develop different characters and stories, and if I shoot too much womenswear I want to go back to menswear, and vice versa! I like to shoot both equally.
I’ve noticed you’ve worked collaborating with some Fashion Editors/Stylists on multiple editorials. Is that a coincidently or have you found an aesthetic bond while working with these stylists? Can you tell me about some of those times, is there a particular editorial you remember more and highly enjoyed?
I tend to go towards stylists with whom I share mutual inspirations and tastes, stylists who are able to understand how clothing can push a narrative three times further. Always coming from different backgrounds than myself, so there’s a nice mix that will double our creativity on set. For me, it's important to share enough of a vision to work together in the same direction, but to be different enough to push each other towards a new territory, while keeping each of our identities. When I find somebody like that, I tend to work with them again and again! Amongst the latest editorials I did, I think my stories with Gaelle Bon and Gabriella Norberg were the best ones I've shot this year.
Talk to me about the technical side of photography. There’s something so raw and real about how you capture a moment, actually everything about your photography style I extremely enjoy. Walk me through your process, from the setting on the camera you use to the end result with how you edit the photos.
Honestly, there’s no specific setting on my camera and not even a specific camera I use. I tend to come back to a certain pattern of colour that’s mostly done on set, coordinating or clashing outfits according to the backgrounds. So, it’s all about lots of pastels and strong reds or greens for me, a very painting-like palette. I'm always visualising my shootings as stories, and models as characters, to help me find a lead. What would that character do according to who he is, where would he be, how would he feel? I’m always making sure any frame fits into the story by its essence. I finish the work on photoshop, where I balance out light and colours to develop my own palette. The process is about 18 layers that I edit a little bit every time according to my light, mood, and palette, but the base stays the same. Allowing me to have some sort of unity in between all my pictures, even if they come from different places. The story behind it is absolutely quite stupid: I was in a museum in Scotland a while ago, and there was this section where they were showcasing the process of painting restoration, I was amazed by the depths in colours, light and skin tones the patina that formed over time on the surface of the paintings added to it. I thought all of them looked better before being restored, and inspired myself from the process to recreate kind of the same effect in my pictures.
I’d imagine, as a professional photographer, you’ve had many different cameras throughout the years. Which brand and model has been your favourite by far?
I’d say it's by default, because I happened to get one in the beginning that fitted my budget and then I started buying all the lenses, so I had to stick to that brand. I've been using Canon for a while now. However, I also have a digital Fujifilm, which is more of my on-the-go camera when I travel. I also have medium formats, but I never end up publishing anything taken with these cameras, because I don't like all that much how the camera style changes the look of my work. I need to find a way to make it look more like my style first, I guess. Additionally I have a Zenit that I really like and actually use, but I mostly used it to have colour references and mimic them into my digital shots, which I then end up never publishing the analog versions. Last but not least, a Polaroid Land camera that I use a lot too, although I'm running out of paper. I can't get rid of any of them, really! (Smiles, E.D.) So, no, no favourite.
I’d also imagine, as a part of your job, you travel a lot! Seeing and getting to explore some of the most beautiful places in the world. With the places you’ve been to so far in your life, what city holds a special place in your heart? And what city would be the runner up?
I've never been a big fan of the US and NYC is one of the most stressful cities for me. Surprisingly enough, I happen to like L.A. a lot! I’m always super thrilled to go there, meet amazing people, have a great time and go back home with wonderful 70’s items. The runner up would be Lomé, because I really had a spectacular trip there for a personal project with a team I love. I also learned a lot from this experience and really cherish my memories there.
All that traveling can also be very lonely and, most importantly, very hard to pack for! (Laughs, E.D.). Obviously, you need all of your camera pieces and accessories, but I’d like to know what else you pack in your suitcase.
Actually, I only take my tiny Fujifilm camera and rent the rest of the gear for the job directly on set, so I travel very light! I manage to fit what I need in a carry-on luggage and a small backpack 90% of the time. I plan my packing to leave a little room for some vintage pieces I might find during the trip. I only buy vintage clothing and traveling offers a lot of variety in styles and colours, so every time I have a little shopping session.
Fanny, being a photographer that does a lot of fashion photography, you’ve gotten to experience many different personalities and styles in the industry. So, describe to me your personal style. Has it changed at all since working more within this industry?
I think I started so young that my evolution has more to do with me growing up and understanding who I am as a person, rather than the people around me. Fashion can be tough, but there’s one thing I’m so grateful for. It's the fact that identity, personality and creativity are always praised, and I've never felt so free to be myself and fully become who I wanted. I started working full time when I was 18 years old and, since then, I’ve never felt judged for the way I dressed, my tastes or the lifestyle I had: it's very liberating!
Fanny, what book and film recommendations would you give to someone interested in photography, to learn how to take better photos that capture the moment as fluidly as you do?
I believe practice is still the best teacher. In fact, I was never a ‘theory’ person. I’d say that for each goal you set for your photography, you have to look into very different things. For me, my pictures must be timeless and carry a certain realness, and for this I’d recommend photography books on documentaries/portrait photographers (such as Paul Strand, Cristina Garcia Rodero, and Mary Ellen Mark).
Let’s end in the future. In seven years, where do you see yourself? Have you fulfilled some of your dreams?
I’m the worst at scheduling projects further than the next month, so I really have no idea! Although it’s for the best, because I'll keep being surprised! (Smiles, E.D.).
Leather flat sandals
Lace trim silk top
Tailored wool trousers
Stretch virgin wool blazer
Tennis charm cord bracelet
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