A chat about anxiety, life, death and photography: with Anne Sophie Landou

Hi Anne, so should we start the interview with your introduction. Let us know a bit about yourself? What should we know about you? Β -Torsten-

Hello Torsten, I’m so so sorry for the late answer. I’ve been busy lately. Thank you for your kindness and your patience!

What should you know about me.

Well, I’m a 27 yo French girl, based in Marseille. I was born in Toulon and I have Corsican roots, a real Mediterranean product!!

Words are my first love, but I have always been fascinated with images (movies, magazines, painting etc..) I grabbed a camera ‘for fun’ when I was a teen, I played with disposable cameras and I borrowed my parents’ first digital camera, a little Olympus. In my head I wasn’t even ‘taking pictures’.

Photography became serious to me in highschool when I got sick. I suffer from anxiety and chronic depression. I took intimate pictures for a year, pictures of my closest friends, pictures of my family, of my dogs, self portraits, and it literaly saved me.

Then I got in lawschool (!) … I don’t know why! Well, I have a law degree in economic law but the camera never left me.

I’m not able to work currently; I shoot everyday. Digital, analog, reflex, compact, Iphone, whatever the medium is only images matter to me. It’s an instinctive process, I never think in terms of ‘serie’ or ‘concept’. I shoot what I see, what moves me, beauty in the ugly, a dog, a reflection, toilets ..

I happened to be a lot at home those last three years. Shooting my nest, which was also kind of a prison, freed me and helped me a lot. I still shoot a lot of indoors, including my friends’ and family’s. These homes, where life actually happens, are to me the most poetic portraits you can get from a person.

I also do shoot a lot outside, but I don’t hunt the image. Last year I lived in New York, I got to spent my time walking outside and shooting. I don’t picture myself as a ‘street photographer’ or a ‘conceptual photographer’ , neither an ‘intimacy photographer’ ; I just shoot. I’ve been using flash a lot lately, it’s so raw, it’s like the camera is screaming.

Photography is a lifestyle. I also curate few groups in here, and I almost enjoy it as much as taking pictures πŸ™‚

VoilΓ  … πŸ˜€

Very detailed answer…If you suffer from anxiety and chronic depression, it must be quite difficult to go out and take pictures of strangers or of new places. Also you were living in NYC for a year. Was it difficult for you to go out shooting or did it come naturally? How was it for you then to implement the new environment? How were you able to overcome the anxiety or is the camera a kind of protector at that time?

Ahah, sorry it was kinda long.. I talk/write a lot..

Well, the thing is you could never ever guess i’m ‘sick’ ; I’m a very outgoing person, I love life, I’m really curious about others and about the world. It’s really not a problem for me to shoot people in the street, with or without their permission πŸ˜‰

NYC was a crazy experience. I came there for a man, but I spent most of my time shooting alone in the street and wandering. Sometimes I spent hours around the same block. Was kinda hectic.. I was amazed and excited about everything and everybody ! In three months I belonged to the hood. It’s really easier to get to know people in the US than in France. I felt free.

Of course, camera is kinda my teddy bear , and a weapon (or a shell?). Knowing than you have an impact on reality by creating things is powerful.

Once you are really being drawn into photography, there is hardly a way anymore to resist. The camera becomes a constant companion and I think that people start just to see you “as the crazy person with a camera.” Once they see you as that in the neighbourhood, I think it becomes easier to go out and shoot.

As you know, FullFrontal is being a small collective which focuses mainly on flash photography. When you mentioned before that you have been using more and more flash lately since you feel that it is very raw and as if the camera is screaming, would you consider this point more as a slight aggressiveness during the photography process or more on the final result of the image?

Have you ever experienced anxiety issues ? was wondering (I also ask questions :))

I was kinda waiting for your question, clever question btw (you’re a good question asker) ! By saying that, I meant both, during and after (and even before) the photo process.

Not gonna lie I feel a bit ‘powerful’ when I use flash, it’s like stealing a piece of that cake called life ; I feel like a creating thief ! And I also do love the fact that it makes that reality crazier in a way, everything is enhanced,: colors, details ..

You know with my health condition I experience weird things, I feel everything very intensely, my senses are very acute, and the result you’ve got with flash really conveys that ‘madness’ to me. Flash may be comforting to me at the end πŸ™‚ maybe flash is my new teddy bear!

Anxiety issues maybe but not in a medical sense. I also have a couple of friends suffering from anxiety and depression and wouldn’t consider myself that since I see how much they are suffering actually. Myself I am more drawn towards some kind of dark places sometimes if that is a better description…

The way you describe flash photography seems to be a kind of intoxication for you, like being high on drugs. Do you feel any kind of withdrawal symptoms after a while or do you need some time to come down after being out and using flash? Are there any tips to feel at ease?

Ahah, high on flash ! It definitely suits me better than alcohol. That’s for sure.

Photography has been and still is a great remedy to my mood swings and my anxiety, during and after I just feel great. But it is also exhausting sometimes, an intense experience.

 

How do you deal then when you are not able to get any shots? I think we all go through periods when we hardly get any keepers.

What are you actually looking for in photographs? Is there a certain kind of theme in the groups you are editing?

I doubt all the time about my work. I don’t really go through those periods where I can’t get ‘nothing’. It’s more than I have trouble saying if a photograph I took is ‘something’ you know πŸ™‚

Now I tend to edit images a long time after I created them, that way I can get more distance ; otherwise I’m too submerged with emotion.

Then I follow my instinct.

I’m a big image freak, everyday I see tones of images. What I’m looking for in them ? Soul. I need to feel, immediatly. I don’t think in terms of ‘street photography’, ‘fashion photography’ etc etc ; I want poetry, I want life on the image. It can be a very graphic composition, a chair, a family portrait … I’m a big enthusiast. I have a strong sensitivity to color photography, but there’s so many greys, so many blacks and so many whites.

I curate six groups (enthusiast I told you !). ANIMANIAC which is about our little animal friends as you can guess; GIRLS GIRLS GIRLZ that speaks for itself ; PSYCHIC TAROT that is a ‘darker ‘ group ; LIP STICKS that focuses on vertical compositions ; TREASURE IMPRESSED where you can find topographic and pattern pictures for example ; WHERE THE COOL KIDS ARE ; and CHIFFONS I just created that deals with fashion in an absurd way. In all of them you can find street shots, as well as intimate pictures. They all have that ‘soul’ quality, with an absurd touch πŸ™‚

You are mentioning that you are looking for life in the picture and I can understand what you mean. If someone doesn’t know your stream or your images, would you be able to show one of your images and one of the images of your curated groups, which reflect life in those photographs?

 

PSYCHIC TAROT

.

 

LIP STICKS

 

WHERE THE COOL KIDS ARE

"It's ok."

 

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS

 

TREASURES IMPRESSED

image

 

ANIMANIACS

Dave creates negative space

 

I chose a picture of each of the groups I curate, to me that’s life πŸ™‚

Somehow I would rather relate your image to transience or death instead of life… Hehe… Anyways, this was a really nice conversation. Any other things or points you would like to share about your photography?

Isn’t death total part of life ? Isn’t food, nature, life ? In my humble opinion yes. This is a photograph I took of a compost, you create life with ‘dead’ veggies, fruits, egg shells, bread.. Kinda cool! I’m a bit ‘green’ hehe!

Yes, it was so nice talking about our passion πŸ™‚ I think we’re good πŸ™‚

Can I ask you what do you like in my photographs?

Maybe the thing you described as β€œLife” and to which I can relate to.

πŸ™‚

 

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