Interview of Violette Nell by Sophie Pellegrini

I was born and live in France near Paris. I’m 23 years old, I study history to university. And next to that, I work part-time to support my needs and pay my film equipment.

You’re a self-taught photographer. Can you tell us a little bit about how you learned/about that process? 

It is by studying the history of art than the desire to practice photography came. Having no technique, I was inspired by the work I admired at the time, namely that of Julia Margaret Cameron; more widely, that of the Pictorialists by buying myself books on ancient techniques of photography. Progressively,  I acquired some consolidated basis thanks to tutorials found on the Internet. Books and the Internet were also a great help in my learning.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to pick up photography?

I don’t know if my opinion is legitimate because I have no training.  All I can say is to be inspired as much as possible by one or more masters of photography ,without copying. And then, to turn one’s back on their work in seeking their own style and following their instinct, even if those around you are not receptive to what you are doing.

Secondly, I would advise someone who wishes to start in photography to just take “seriously” this activity. It can be simple in appearance because everyone can claim to make pretty pictures. Making photos that will remain inscribed in the collective memory is more difficult, in my opinion.

Who are the subjects in your photographs? Do you pose them or photograph candid moments?

The subjects in my photographs are not professional models. They are part of my intimate circle of family and friends.

It depends on the context; some series are thought out, such as that of the couple, where accessories, gestural, the choice of colors are all important. In that case, my models pose but this is not a rule. I’d rather take sophisticated photographs, almost cinematographic, that capture stolen moments in daily life.

What do you enjoy most about analogue?

What I enjoy most about analogue is the emotions reflected on paper. This is the reason I abandoned (temporarily but not completely) digital. Besides, I think that analogue photography marvelously captures moods and sensitivity of people.

If you could do anything differently in your first 20 years of life, what would it be?

If I could do something different in my early years, I will get rid of the word “procrastination” from my personal vocabulary, an evil quite common in my generation.

What is something you are afraid of?

I still have some old fears related to my childhood which age badly. However, I do not really have adult fears, even if I remain an anxious person.

8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received or given?

The best piece of advice I received was given to me by the person who gave me my first film camera. I had a complex at first because I thought it was necessary to have the most expensive equipment to start–well, I was wrong.

I expressed my fears to that person. They told me that there is a kind of indecency in photographing, for example, poor people with a camera of 2000 Euros.

In hindsight, I think the most expensive equipment does not make you a better photographer. It is what you make that really matters.

9. Where do you hope to be in 5 years? What do you want your life to look like?

I have no idea, but I hope that in 5 years I will undertake a long trip in Europe and somewhere else. Modestly, I would just be able to live on my artistic passions.

10. List five things in life that fascinate you.

 Human intelligence, the relationship between humans and animals., Astronomy, the renewal of nature, and all forms of art.

Violette Nell

Violette was born in France some 20 years ago. She’s at university near Paris and dedicates her time to photography when she has the time. Violette is a self taught photographer who developed a passion for photography very late. The melancholic portraits of Julia Margaret Camero gave Violette the desire to start photography. She shoots both digital and film but lately (since 2014), her focus is film.  Find more of her photography on her Flickr.

Sophie Pellegrini

Sophie Pellegrini is the Co-Founder and Artistic & Creative Director of Ramona Magazine for Girls. She is a 24-year-old outdoor-enthusiast, photographer, and wilderness therapy field guide in Colorado. Sophie has a Master’s of Communication Design in Photography from the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, and a BA in Psychology and Studio Art from Bates College in Maine, USA. She loves crafting, playing acoustic guitar, 90s music, the smell of summer, making lists, a good nap, cuddly animals, and the cold side of the pillow. Follow Sophie on her website and on Instagram.

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