For photographer Charlotte Haulot, youth culture at its wildest and most free is usually her focus, whether she’s capturing some of her favorite emerging labels or shooting models in their rawest and most captivating form. Born in raised in Paris, France—like many creative greats—stumbled into photography by way of fashion and other forms of artistic expression.
While attending a Parisian fashion school, she quickly developed an interest in taking photos before taking on the creative role full-time. As is evident in her portraits, Charlotte casts a soft haze onto those around her and often highlights the female body and femininity with an alluringly romantic comfort. “With my work, I want to show my imagination and my own perception of beauty, something else than the overly standardized representations of beauty and bodies,” she tells us.
For this week’s Behind The Lens, Charlotte Haulot introduces us to her formidable portfolio as well as how she navigates through competitive spaces such as photography and what she hopes to achieve through her work amongst other topics. Read on for our conversation.
Let’s just start with an introduction. Who is photographer Charlotte Haulot? What characterizes you most?
I’m a young autodidact photograph born in the suburbs of Paris in the ’90s. Today I live and work in Paris.
Being passionate about image and aesthetics since my early teenage years, I developed my interest in photography while attending a Parisian fashion school. After working in production as a photo stylist for a few years, where I observed and learned every day from numerous photographers, I started to shoot and develop my skills in the meantime, leading eventually to quitting my day job to be fully devoted to photography.
I shoot exclusively on film. My creative process is simple and very instinctive, it’s a feeling in my guts, all of a sudden something happens and I know I have to take this picture. In the era of social networks where we are flooded with images and everything goes very quickly, the act of shooting with film, not controlling everything, and waiting for the photo development is very important to me, it’s a part of my creative process.
I need to take a step back and accept that the photo is not as perfect as a digital photo can be. I like the idea that something unexpected, an accident is captured and becomes the important thing in a picture. That’s why I work only on film. The limited freedom of analog, deprived of technology, forces my eye to be focused on this magical moment that will make me push the button.
Paris is a multicultural hub for all things fashion, what are the biggest challenges of navigating such a competitive space?
I think you have to be motivated, patient, and slightly hyperactive, haha. Everything is going very fast, there are a lot of people in Paris, you shouldn’t be afraid to take the lead because no one will do it for you. The most important thing is to do as many projects as possible that are connected with your universe to meet people who have the same artistic vision as you.
Your projects are often a collaborative process between several different stylists, models, and so forth. How does working with other creatives allow you to not only step out of the box but your comfort zone as well?
I’ve always been used to working in a team when I was a stylist, and I’ve always loved the creative energy that comes out of it. Surrounding yourself with other artists is a way of not falling into self-sufficiency as a photograph, and to stay open-minded to others and to what is being done. Everything moves very quickly in visual art and fashion, working with other people is also a way of always being on the move, it’s stimulating and hyper interesting.
I love to meet new people with whom we speak the same language, it always ends up in something satisfying for everyone involved.
What kinds of emotions and ideas would you most like your work to provoke in those who encounter it?
Beauty is an abstract notion, it is a sensory or intellectual experience specific to each person. With my work, I want to show my imagination and my own perception of beauty, something else than the overly standardized representations of beauty and bodies. I want my photos to attract attention because they are different and hopefully will be remembered.
What type of camera, lenses, and lighting equipment do you use? In your opinion, do you necessarily need the best equipment to create photographs that have an impact?
I work with not so many materials. I use a Minolta SRT101 135mm without zoom because I like to get closer to my subject, a small compact Olympus Mju II and sometimes a 120mm from Fujifilm for portraits. In the studio, I use between two to four sources of continuous lights, no more. For me, it’s not the camera that makes the photographer but his vision and his style. You don’t recognize a photographer because he shoots with the latest fashionable Sony, but because he has his own universe, his touch.
I started with a flashlight and a light used on construction sites and I still use my flashlight on shoots, I love this “homemade” touch!
In regards to finding yourself through forms of artistic expression such as photography, what advice would you give to young creatives?
Don’t try to fit into the mold, even if it’s hard today with social networks which homogenize visual art and which unconsciously put pressure on us. Above all, do not try to please everyone because that is lost in advance. Stay sincere in your creative process, listen to your instincts, trust yourself and people will feel the same when working with you and looking at your photos. The important thing is to be happy with your work.
It’s a long race, you always have to be active, inspiration doesn’t fall from the sky, it takes work, watching movies, listening to music, reading and photographing as much as possible, it’s like being a professional athlete who practices every day to improve and maybe make it to the Olympics someday.
Elsewhere in photography, Ben Pham chops it up with us about equipment, navigating the LA scene, and more.