‘When I saw Breauna Monét for the first time, I was impressed by her beauty. But Breauna is not just a beautiful girl, she is also the coolest. She doesn’t care about what people think of her, but she does care about other people, her friends, her family …’ Marin Troude is a French photographer and film director known for his images and short films that graphically depict unconventional teenage activities. His work usually suggests the crossing of boundaries, the loss of innocence and the point of no return. Inextricably linked to memory, his art allows him to stay in a perpetual world of adolescence.
How did the idea for the series come about?
Before photography, I’m a filmmaker above all. I’ve been making feature films, short films, video clips and commercials for a long time. Last year, I was in Los Angeles making a documentary about young skateboarders from Venice Beach, a project I had wanted to make for over 2 years. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned and I had many problems with some of the actors who were not sufficiently into it. Nothing went right and the shoot got suddenly cancelled. As I was also a producer on this project, I lost a lot of money and I got seriously into debt. At the time, I was very disappointed since I had put my heart and soul into this project and I was thinking about taking a long break from the film industry. Alone in my house, after this hard blow, I couldn’t find the strength to start a new complicated film. But from the bottom of my heart, the desire to create never left me. I had, within me, the drive, the desire, the need to create and to tell a story. So I was looking for a solution to be able to continue the independent cinema. And it turned out that photography was the answer. So with the last money I’d left in my pocket, I bought a Leica analog and I contacted some models, friends of friends living in Los Angeles. After that, I had no more money left at all, so I decided to get around this problem, to use this ‘weakness’ and to make it my strength instead. Without any operators or assistants, just me, my camera and a few rolls, I set out to meet different models and we improvised together in full immersion. Not having money for an art project can be a good thing, because it encourages you to be more creative, to constantly renew yourself, to look for great options that you wouldn’t maybe consider with a budget. Since this day, I shoot in ‘immersion’, whatever my subject is, I try to keep it original and stick to reality, to make my photo shoots a cinema scene. My love for reality fiction always catches me up.
How do you approach these intimate shots?
First I want to establish a relationship of confidence. My goal is to photograph the inner model, her essence, her strength, the real woman and not just a naked girl. I want to honour women, pay tribute to them in my own way, to show how amazing they are. In my opinion, us, men, would be nothing without them. I grew up in a family of strong and independent women. And I have always been fascinated by their interior and exterior beauty, by their courage, their strength of character, tenderness and elegance. When a model accepts to shoot with me, I always try to see and feel her inner depth, like if she would open me a private locked door to her intimacy, a door that boys wouldn’t usually be able access. And I try to convey all of this through my photography. I like to offer these intimate moments to the spectator by sharing my experiences through my photos.
Can we photograph the female body differently in a more powerful way?
Photographing a woman is a unique task. In my opinion the important thing is not the technique, the angle or the device we have in our hands, but rather what we can make feel through the picture. The subject must ‘permeate the film’. I prefer an overexposed or a slightly blurred photo emitting a strong emotion rather than a perfect picture without a soul. This is why, it’s very important that there is a relationship of trust at the base, between the photographer and his/her subject. Otherwise the shoot won’t work. If the model is embarrassed to be naked, the viewer will immediately feel it in her gaze, in her way of being, in her artistic performance as an actor. The lens sees everything. You can’t lie unless you are a good actor because it captures the slightest emotion. You can’t cheat with a camera, especially when you are naked! And it is at this exact moment, that my role of the director comes to play.
What inspires you?
Literature and cinema. I watch a lot of old French movies. At that time, directors really took their time to make beautiful films. In the sixties, France knew how to film and honour women, to make them almost unreal, immortal.
How would you define beauty?
When I photograph a woman, I’m primarily interested in her inner beauty, in whom she really is … We live in a very superficial world where outward beauty takes on an important role in our society. I know that I’m the first to contribute to this idea by my shots of beautiful women and I would lie if I said that the physical doesn’t count, but it’s simply not the most important thing. Beauty is just an idea, an ideal imposed by conventions. All women are beautiful in their own way.
Film or digital?
For photography, analog! Always. In the past, when I was shooting films, for budget reasons, I always had to rent some bad cheap digital cameras. So I’m a bit traumatised by digital. The film photo is inexpensive so therefore accessible. I’m not going to deprive myself of it! Film has the vintage and cinematic rendering which I seek, also you can find it in the grain of the film.
What makes you happy?
Linda, the love of my life. The coolest girl ever. I fell in love the first day I met her.
What’s next for you?
My foray into photography allowed me to take a break from moviemaking and then to start fresh again. I just released Born Wild, a short film about a skater who travels in the mountains and the desert with his board as a sole partner, from the Reno area to Los Angeles. I’m also currently shooting my next one in the Louvre museum. I am very lucky. Today, I have more money to make my films. But I will never stop taking photos. I realised I owe the craft a lot. Photography saved me in some ways. It taught me that it’s always possible to create with very little means. If I’m still a director today, and I haven’t lost hope, it is largely thanks to photography.