Manon Villemonteil is a French photographer who has a quirky and really refreshing outlook on fashion photography. Enjoy…
How long have you been shooting and what was it that first got you interested in fashion photography?
I first started photography in high school; I was studying applied arts and I quickly realised that I wasn’t very good at drawing so I had to find another way to express myself. My first pictures were more still life or pictures of the sky and things like that, then I began to take pictures of my sister (a lot) and my friends. I choose the make-up and styling myself, but never thought of them like fashion shots. In 2013 I entered a really good photography school in Paris, Les Gobelins, and that’s when I really began getting in to fashion photography. What I loved about it is that I could keep shooting girls like I always loved to but in a more professional way – with real models, make-up artists and a whole team.
I was studying applied arts and I quickly realised that I wasn’t very good at drawing so I had to find another way to express myself.
How would you define your style?
I think my images are very clean. I’m not really into a big stage set; I often use a simple background so that all you pay attention to is the model herself. I love playing with the bodies like dolls, the female body inspires me a lot more than male models. Also I think there’s always something a little ‘weird’ in my images, I want people to wonder about how she got in this situation, or who is she?
Who or what are your main sources of inspiration? Are there particular photographers that inspire you?
You can’t really see it in my images but the photographer I admire and love the most is Duane Michals. He is an 84 year old American photographer and I admit I sometimes Google him just to check he’s still alive. His images are completely surreal and surrealism has always fascinated me. I also take a lot of inspiration from painters like Egon Schiele or Toulouse Lautrec. In fashion photography I really like Guy Bourdin, Juergen Teller, or more recently Casper Sejersen.
Ninety percent of the time though, the best photos I take are far from what I had planned and totally improvised.
How do you prepare for a shoot? Do you have images and poses in mind or do you rely on a sense of spontaneity?
I always prepare sheets with a lot of poses because I’m really scared of running out of inspiration in the middle of the shoot. Ninety percent of the time though, the best photos I take are far from what I had planned and totally improvised. It’s very important for me to leave a big place for spontaneity and just feel the moment.
See more of Manon’s work at:
All images copyright Manon Villemonteil.