[ The Uncommon Creatives] Interview with photographer, Camille.
On social media you can pretty much come in to contact with anyone who matches your interests. There is a wide spectrum of creatives and sometimes we may overlook the very great ones. I came across Camille and her amazing work on Instagram one day. I was browsing the explore section. Camille is a photographer who does an immaculate job of capturing moments of everyday life and making you feel like you’re in the moment. With an impeccable eye and a great sense of composition, she is able to execute the art of storytelling.
I planned on meeting up with her eventually, but eventually came faster than I thought it would. One day I was leaving my school’s library and as I was walking, I caught a glimpse of Camille. This is going to sound really creepy, but I then followed her and her photography subject for about two minutes. Once I caught up to them I introduced myself. She was so bubbly and we were both equally ecstatic about finally meeting one another. Matching her personality with her work had me sold on the idea of interviewing her.
Interview with Camille and Shae McCoy
S- So, you can start with your name, age, and where you’re from.
C- My name is Camille. I’m 28 years old and I’m from France.
S- Alright, and what is it that you do creatively?
C- I take a lot of pictures and I write.
S- Okay, so are both of these things your passion or is it—
C- Uh, I think both of these things are my passion at the moment.
S- How did you discover that these things are your passions?
C- That’s where it gets hard (laughs). I think that I recently discovered it because it’s stuff that I’ve been doing consistently since childhood, but I think acknowledging it as my passion and saying ‘this is my passion’ is actually pretty recent, I guess. Maybe I was telling it to myself before but telling it to others is pretty recent.
S- Okay cool. What type of photography do you do?
C- I do a lot of different things, like, since I moved to Baltimore, I mainly do street photography and portraits of strangers. But I enjoy doing basically anything with people in it. Anything that has people, I love it. I just don’t shoot landscapes (laughs).
S- Okay and what do you like to write about?
C- I like to write about many things as well, but it’s usually about the encounters, the people that I meet in life. Therapeutic writing, like thoughts that cross my mind—
S- like blogging?
C- Blogging, a little bit when I moved to Baltimore, mostly describing the people that I was encountering and the questions that it was raising in terms of ‘what is Baltimore?’ , ‘what does it mean to be from Baltimore?’ , ‘why is it like it is?’ , ‘ why are people saying what they say about it?’, the people that I was talking to and recording and the conversations that we had to understand this.
S- What are some hardships that you’ve experienced being the creative that you are?
C- My English. Sometimes there are words that I’m unsure of. Uhh, I think the hardest things, and this is what I’m trying to do now, is acknowledging yourself, like this is what I do, and to stop lying to yourself and being like ‘no, I’m gonna try to find a job and this is not real and being an artist is not a real job.’ The hardest thing is acknowledging that you have a passion and it’s really what you want and having the courage to stop doing what you don’t want to do in order to focus more on what you think you want to do. That’s, so far, the difficulty that I’m trying to overcome at the moment and I’m in the process of overcoming it.
S- Okay and what do you think makes you stand out in your creative field?
C- Oh I don’t know (laughs). That one is a tough question because I think, just as every creative person that expresses oneself, we are all unique. We all have one look, that’s very personal, on like, on the city, and on people. We see those things through those eyes that have seen other things before, and I guess, just trying to be honest with that vision and not trying to copy what other people are doing and trying to follow what you wanna do is what makes ones work unique.
S- So what do people know you for?
C- Uhh, I don’t know, my big glasses maybe (laughs).
S- (laughs) I mean like in your work. What can they spot and say, this is Camille?
C- Uhh I don’t know. I guess, recently, a lot of people told me that they really love my portraits. So, I’m gonna try to post that more…I don’t know yet. Maybe the portrait work. Gah, that’s a tough questions (laughs).
S- So you would say, in a nutshell, portraiture? Or your style of portraits?
C- Yeah, like in the streets, like everyday people who I meet, who I interact with by camera and how that translates into something on film and on the picture. Yeah, I guess the film work also because I don’t shoot digital, I only shoot film. It’s pretty trendy now, but I know that, maybe a few years ago, it was like ‘ah you shoot film, that’s really cool, I love your stuff’, but I guess it’s not really unique or recognizable anymore, but that’s a trait for sure.
S- If you could be doing anything else other than photography or writing, what would it be?
C- That’s a good question, because right now, I’m not completely doing it. My work that I do for supporting myself at the moment is that I write, but I guess right now I’m trying to do more photography, so I’m not thinking about doing anything other than that. Maybe I’ll do more movies because it’s kind of a cross of the two, with the writing and the image. As a visual person that would be really interesting. I’m a little bit too lazy for that at the moment. It seems so much bigger to film something than to just capture one second of it.
S- Alright, so who or what are your creative inspirations?
C- That’s an interesting question. That’s a very good question because I’m wondering a lot. So, I know that one of the first times, this is gonna be very cliché, but one of the first pictures that striked me was a picture of Henri Cartier Bresson, who is one of the most famous French photographers, and I think every photography student heard about him. I remember there was a picture of a woman naked in the water, like under the water, and I don’t know, I just saw it in a magazine and—
S- What’s his name again?
C- I’m sorry, yeah, in America you probably pronounce it differently…Henri Cartier Bresson. I remember one time in Baltimore, two photographers were talking about him and they asked if I knew him. I said no because of how they were pronouncing it differently and then I figured out that we were about the same guy. Umm, but yeah, I think he was my primary inspiration. Like all Humanist photographers from France, that’s also not very original. My primary is Robert Doisneau, that’s also one of the most famous French photographers—
S- We’ll have to write some of these names down (laughs).
C- Yeah, we’ll write them down. But yeah, it’s really remarkable work. It’s really striking images that everyone has in mind and reminds them of a certain…that translates in a certain way, to see people as like a big heart kind of thing. So that’s like very basic, and then like all the, this is super cliché, but all the Nouvelle Vague movies that I watched a lot as a teenager, but more for the color because the two names that I told before have more work in black and white. For the color, all the Nouvelle Vague aesthetic. The women are really beautiful and the men are really beautiful. I don’t know, it’s really staged and it doesn’t show now in my pictures because they aren’t staged, but I guess it’s a way to see beauty in everything and try to have this little surrender of magic and touch of gold in everything. A lot of movies are a really big inspiration but I don’t have any titles that come to my mind right now. I should have prepared the question (laughs). I should have studied. Sometimes, just like Instagram, scrolling through the feed or through hashtags, but I’m trying not too much because it usually results in false thoughts like ‘my work is shit’, ‘everybody does it so much better, I should just stop.’ So, it can be an inspiration, but it can also be a downer. My friends also, like for a number of years, I was not really showing my pictures except to my really close friends, but I documented a lot of our lifestyles because I was living with my best friend for years and I took a lot of pictures about this life and being surrounded with amazing women, girls at the time but now I can say women, that are very creative. Every day is different, and every day there are new ideas about something fun we could do and it was always adventurous. It was really an inspiration to watch my friends being themselves and to be able to capture some little moments of this was really important in the growing. I also have a lot of friends that are creative so they really are like a daily inspiration both aesthetically and morally. It gives you strength and courage to see other people that are around you and are trying to do shit and you’re like ‘okay, this is my friend so I have to be like…’ I’m looking for a word…to deserve the friendship of such people. That’s a big inspiration (laughs).
S- So I guess for the next question I was gonna ask, have you met any of them but you said some of them are you friends so—
C- I’ve met most of my friends (laughs). But the ones I talked about in the beginning, no they are dead, so I haven’t met them.
C- And for the in between, I don’t know. This is the kind of question where I’m probably gonna be like, oh I could’ve talked about this.
S- It’s all good.
C- But it’s the game. It’s the game.
S- What is the most rewarding thing that has happened in your career so far?
C- Well I don’t know if I can talk about my career because it hasn’t really started yet, so hopefully most of the good things are ahead.
S- Well you can talk about any good thing, even like meeting someone while you were shooting or anything.
C- Uhh, what has happened? I guess it’s like all the people in Baltimore, it’s really pretty amazing. I left Paris because I don’t know, I felt that I was never saying that I was a photographer. It was also problems to solve between me and myself. It’s not very, even now, it’s not very welcoming. It’s like ‘oh, what do you do? What have you done? Oh, I’ve done it better before you’ and I feel that it can be very competitive in Paris, and I don’t feel that here at all, maybe because I’m an outsider and I’m very grateful. Meeting new people has been super easy. When I got to Baltimore, I was looking for someone to develop my film photography on Google and I found the website of Patrick Jost who is a film photographer in Baltimore. Amazing work check it out. I messaged him on Facebook and he took the time to reach out to me and invited me to get coffee. He invited me to a group of film photographers where I met other people who were also really great. We walked around really talented photographers and I feel very lucky every time we were just walking around and taking pictures and talking to people. It’s really cool. And when I met you, I was like this is so great.
S- Aww (laughs).
C- We followed each other on Instagram and then we bumped into each other on the street and it was so cool. There was like little pieces of magic in every day. I guess that was pretty rewarding. After that, I have nothing. I haven’t completed anything yet.
S- You will get there.
C- Every time someone…like recently I was in Paris and a lot of my friends were like ‘I really love everything that you’ve posted recently, it really touches me. And like random people that I don’t really know, sending me messages telling me that they were really touched and I’m just like this is amazing. It took me awhile to share just a little bit of what I do. I’ve been taking pictures for almost fifteen years and nobody has seen most of it. It’s just now that I’m sharing a little part of it on Instagram, which is really limited and on a little screen and stuff, and people are saying that they’ve been touched. It’s just like, wow! I didn’t think that stuff that I do could touch someone. It’s very rewarding. It’s incredible. This is like one thing, I’m kinda repeating myself, this is something that’s hard to overcome as a creative. I think we all have this moment where we’re like, ‘who is this gonna interest? who wants to see that? Nobody gives a shit about what you write or about what you see. Not interesting.’ And sometimes you think that and then you get that little message or that person that says, ‘oh btw…’ and your like okay maybe it’s worth doing it (laughs).
S- What do you think you can improve on as a creative?
C- So many things (laughs). I don’t know where to start. I think everything. I can always get better at taking pictures, getting out there and connecting with people, sharing what I like. I can get better at editing. I can get better at getting shit done because I’m a terrible procrastinator. I wrote ‘do my website’ on my to-do list in 2009 and never made it. I suppressed it from my to-do list in 2015 because I was like ‘you’re never gonna do it so you might as well not contemplate it every day on this post-it in front of your desk.’ But now it’s back on my to-do list for sure so that I can improve the way that I show my work and trying to be more confident. It might interest someone or inspire someone, you never know. There are people who inspire me with stuff that I see on Instagram and they have no idea of the impact that they have on this random person and that random person and I guess it’s the same for everyone of us. We probably all have something that can inspire someone. I can probably improve on trying to show those things and trying to be better at getting shit done. Stop being negative or being anxious or thinking that it’s not worth doing things. Stop being a dreamer and become a do’er. That will be a great gap to pass.
S- Cool. What do you see yourself doing in five years?
C- Oh my god, this is such a hard question. I already have trouble knowing what I’m gonna be doing in five days. I really have no idea. I have no idea of where I wanna be. I guess right now I’m just trying to do things that I like and, I hope that in five years, maybe being really good at one of them. Maybe I’ll be reconditioned in one of those fields. That would be great. I just see myself, hopefully, healthy and surrounded with people that I love.
S- Where can everyone find your work and keep up with you?
C- For now, it’s basically on Instagram @camillesueroche which, by the way, is like a very funny joke in French, but makes no sense in English. So, I’m debating on changing it (laughs).
S- I thought that was your last name. I’m gonna take it out the post because I put it in the post but now that I know it’s a joke, I’m just gonna put Camille.
C- Yeah, it could be like my middle name, but my middle name is Claire which is less fun (laughs). So, for now, it’s basically on Instagram @camillesueroche and @splitcammagic where I post mostly double exposure stuff that I do in Baltimore.
S- Oh I need to follow that one.
C- And yeah, hopefully my website is to come.