capturing humanity with camille de buhren

Camille’s de Bruhens work is elegantly revealing and driven by a love for people. These stories, conversations and friendships Camille forms create a deeper meaning to her photography, adding a tenderness and humanity that is instantly engaging. 

Working in both black and white and colour, her images portray feminine beauty in it’s rawest form, showing real women and real lives. Her most recent project has taken her to South America where she is travelling from Mexico – Argentina by boat, train or coach in a bid to show how eco tourism can help the planet.

I stumbled across her Instagram portfolio and instantly gave her a follow. I wanted to find out a bit about the people behind the picture, who her inspirations are and where in the world she wanted to photograph.

How did your love of photography start?
So, it’s actually quite a long story…  When I was little I used to go to summer camp every year. I always went with a disposable camera and was fascinated by the fact a plastic box could actually record a moment of my life.

I wanted to understand, how could this little box take photos. So I started to steal my mother’s analogue camera (Nikon FE) which is totally manual. At this time I had no internet or smartphones weren’t around so, I used to describe and write all the photographs I took and the settings I used.

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At the beginning the only things I could get was over or under exposed photos… But little by little I started to understand how things were working, and how important light is. One day my mother figured I was using her camera. She wasn’t very happy about it, but when she saw all my notes and she offered me, (years later for my 18th birthday), my first digital camera a, Nikon D60. But I never did stop using her Nikon FE…

Where do you feel most at home with your camera?
Each time I get into deep conversation with someone, I would say. It can be absolutely anywhere because as long as I am with my camera I forget everything else. I’m very focused on light and the moment. I have an easy connection with people, I want to know their dreams, what drives them mad, what puts fire in your life. People are my home and I guess that’s how I get nice shots.

Who or what inspires you?
People, humans, women… I’m a very social person, I like deep conversation and relationships. When I take a photography I always want them to have a story behind. Nature is also a big thing in my life, but as weird as it is, I don’t think I’m very good with nature photography.

Where are you from/where are you living now?
I’m from Paris but right now I don’t exactly live anywhere… I left France in November to work on a project with a friend. We are doing a documentary about ecotourism, travelling from Mexico to Argentina without using planes. We want to put a positive vibe around the climate debate. We hear all around that humans destroyed the planet, and how bad it is… So we went to find good project, that actually doing great things. And so far it has been absolutely amazing!

Did you study photography?
No I studied publicity but I hated it… I had the luck of winning a photography contest and doing some exhibitions in Paris and Italy. I have been working as a freelance photographer for 4 years now.

What drives you to create the images you do?
A lot of things. I used to work around  Human’s rights and for a year and a half now I have been working on an activist/artiststic series about breasts and nipples.

I went to Colombia for a photography report but I had to stop because of some complications, but I went travelling around Colombia, I met some women in the Sierra Nevada « free women » who live widely, I took some photos of them, when I went back to France, I tried to publish them on Instagram… But my account got deleted for PORNOGRAPHY!
That’s how everything began, how a nipple can be pornography, how can we fight those diktats? So for a year I took photographs of women’s breast. I sadly cannot post them all on Instagram, but some of them are on my website.

Can you choose a favourite photo and if so, why?
That’s a very hard question! I am not able to choose one… Well my photo ‘Le Joueur de Foot’ shot in Benin in 2009 is for sure one of my favourite. Then the series ‘Vague à l’âme’ because I took them in a very specific time of my life, it was this kind of a home moment. I heal myself by shooting this serie.
This is my favourite from my nude series would be ‘The Wave ‘ I love that there is no direction to watch this photography.

If you could only work in black and white or color, which would you choose?

Easy, black and white. First because photography actually starts with black and white film, and I think a good black and white photograph will always transport me more than a colour one. With black and white, you can get deeper (to my sense), also you can actually let your imagination go, you have this dimension where you can let your imagination go, when someone watch your photos. Everybody see art through his own eyes, black and white let you create something in your mind, that’s the kind of magic I like.

Do you think photography has become easier for everyone?
Well, there are more photographers than ever before, because of the tools we have now (cheap digital cameras, photoshop, lightroom…) we can do much more than we used to. But not everyone has the eye. I don’t know how to say this in English, you can take a good photography with your automatic fancy camera but as long as you do not have this little thing, it will always be a basic photography.

You need to have your own way to see things, I mean, look at instagram, we just see the same kind of photographs over and over… Where is the art in all of this? So I would answer, everyone can do photography, but not everyone can take good shots. It surely makes the work more difficult, between internet and all this concurrence it get very hard to earn money solely from photography.

And how do you think it effects being a photographer?
Well, I think there two things that affect the photographer, first it would be internet, because even if people have an easier (free) access to art, since internet is everywhere it is much more difficult to get money from it!

When I began I could sell a photo to a paper magazine for 50 to 1000 euros. Now with internet nobody actually buys your shots. Because there is no more money, people prefers to get free press on internet than actually buy a newspaper. The budget for photography has decreased (which is sad… But that’s what we call evolving with his time I guess). Because there is not much money for photography more and more newspaper, magazine takes random photography or “photographer’s” and it’s killing the scene.

natural light topless photography

What country has taken your heart?
I’ve been travelling quiet a lot for work in Humans rights, then traveled by myself. I have a huge love for Argentina. I went there to work for 3 weeks and I stayed for over two years. I loved the people, the creative vibe I found plus it’s an absolutely gorgeous country. I guess it is my favourite, but still very hard to say because you always find something great in each place you can go. Every country has their little something!

Who would you love to photograph?
Well, I guess I love to photograph every kind of Human being, that’s a thing I do, I’m not looking for someone famous, or dead, or whatever. I just want to shoot people, all kind of people as many as I can. Everyone has his own beauty and that is what I truly love. Having a conversation, trying to understand the person and take photos of them. We all have something to say… Don’t you think ?

You can see more of Camille de Bruhens work on her website.

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