You meet many people when you are out and about in the world. During one of my trips to Paris I ran into Kenza. She’s young, she’s energetic and her smile is infectious. We started talking in a bar a about fashion and life and passion for our respective trades. She told me she was a photographer living in Bali. I looked at her and thought to myself: “Yeah, yeah, she’s just another person with a camera who calls herself a photographer because it sounds good…!”
But how wrong I was. And I’m more then happy to admit it. This girl is good, as in GOOD…!
Moa: Tell us a bit about your background
Kenza:My parents are french (Avignon and Normandie ) but I have mexican and Moroccan blood from my biological father. I grew up in Bali and left the south of france ‘Avignon’ when I was 7years old. It was because of my parents business we decided to move to Bali.
You started taking pictures at a very young age, where did this interest arrive from?
At the age of 14 i saved up money to buy a reflex camera to be able to capture moments of my lifestyle. I’ve always been interested in everything related to art since I was a kid but when i started to understand the freedom of having a camera in the hand and creating scenarios, photography was it
How would you say that your love to photography has developed since then?
By working with other artist, capturing any beauty, getting inspired by places I’ve been or moments in my life Ive been trough … Imagination never stops but keep growing the more I shoot the more I learn new little things
How is it to be a young female photographer in the fashion industry?
Well, at the beginning it wasn’t to easy. I must say the agency wouldn’t let me test their models to experiment or make up artists for that mater, and stylist didn’t trust me. So I had to fight to work with them, then slowly they started recognize my work and to agree on doing projects together. Now I don’t see any difference between me and the ones who’s been in the business longer.
How have you learned the tricks of the trade? Have you had any support from an older and more experienced photographer?
Well I am very far from knowing all the tricks to be honest. I’ve been learning by reading books and online tutorials and experimenting by my own. I did an internship with a photographer, but that was a long time ago. At the moment I have lots of support from this photographer that teach me heaps of stuff, I would actually call him my ”professor”, and I’m his muse. We both are really passionate about what we do. We have very different eyes and styles, but we get really inspired by each other. He have all the technical knowledge and I bring the art touch. That’s why we learn from one another.
When working, what inspires you the most?
It really depends… Everything can inspires me. For example when I work with a wonderful team that gives good vibes to the shoot, but even a negative vibe with a energy can inspire me. But also how people act or react to something, the light, the location I’m working, the mood I am in and the connection I have with the model is also very important… I always try to be very close to her rather then using her like an object. That way I get the most of her and can capture something more deep and powerful.
I’m usually inspired before I’m on set. Thats an everyday inspiration from movies or situation I put my self in, relationships I have with people by partying. Dreams is also one of my biggest inspiration.I write everything down and think of how I could make all this emotions into an concept, a photo shoot.
What would you say is the hardest part of being a freelance photographer?
You have to be organised when it comes to everything. Depending on the low and high season I have to be aware my money situation, because I don’t get an every month fix salary… There is no company or agencies that represent me so I have to promote my self constantly not to be forgotten by shooting and make people talk about me as much as possible. You to be active and never stop creating & building artistic projects etc.. I am completely independent so there’s good and negative sides of it.
Where would you say you get most of your costumers from? And is there a difference when it comes to where you get most projects and where you get most money?
Mainly from word of mouth. There’s also the publications in Magazines (editorial) that helps, of course interviews, but also Instagram and Facebook. Usually its brands that get in contacts with me to photograph their new campaign/lookbook. It doesn’t make a difference where they hear about me when it comes to who pays the most. There’s really big companys who have found me via Instagram and low budget companies that might have seen my work in a magazine. It doesn’t really make a big difference.
Do you do other photo shoots other of fashion?
Well I am still in this ”experimenting” phase of my life where I’m trying to find myself and my style… I also do landscape and lifestyle. I recently met a war photographer, and I would love to experiment with this as well, but what I mainly love is fashion and beauty. Thats what I love the most because its like having a white piece of paper and a pen and draw what you have in mind. Choosing a girl that is right for the concept, creating an ambiance and an attitude. I went with my ”professor” on an excursion a week ago to climb a sulfur volcano at 2 in the morning in Jawa to take images and do an exhibition, capturing shooting stars, workers, and lava fields. It was quiet magical and we are very satisfied with the result of the images.
When and where are you expecting to be having this exhibition?
In Hong Kong hopefully before july but i can’t say more on the subject before its 100% ready.
Before ending this interview, could you tell us about one of your favourite shoots and why it left such an imprint on you?
I could seriously give you 100 of examples…Haha…
This is a hard one because I am very emotionally attached to almost every single of my shoots. But I could give you few example of ones that has touch me the most. I’ve loved Frida Kahlo since I studied her when I was in school. So I decided to make a shoot with her as the main inspiration. It wasn’t easy, the stylist and make up artist is a very difficult woman hard to work with that doesn’t go along with anyone, and the model had the put herself in Frida’s skin. The pictures turned out very good and really created the emotion I had in mind. Its probabably one of my favourite shoots.
There’s also another one that I really love. It was in studio and I did it with my ex boyfriend who’s an hairdresser. The concept was very dark, we had to drop candle wax on a female model, it was late at night and very hard to get the light right, but the entire the team was working hard and the images turned out insane! Every time I look at those photos it bring me back to that beautiful obscure night we all had.
I also really like this other shoot I did with a russian model. It was only her and I, and we did everything together in terms of make up and wardrobe. We were alone in this villa and we just hanged out and took photos. I really got to know her in a short time and that is what made the pictures look so good and you can see that there’s true emotion behind it.