When looking at Julie Berthelemy’s art, the first expression that comes to mind is “thinking outside the box”. Her bold and provocative images are due to her playful and unconventional view on everyday life.

For Julie, the process of creating images is an adventure of the here and now. Although, at first sight, you can call her works funny, every image raises an important question. At the essence of her philosophy and approach to photography is to have fun. A simple statement that illuminates her works, creating almost a genre of its own.

In this interview, Julie Berthelemy, a photographer from Brussels and a Depositphotos contributor, shares her story, the peculiarities of the creative process and explains why color is important.

On becoming a photographer and developing a photography style

My father is a photographer. As a child, I had a small black and white laboratory and I had fun making photograms with everything I could find. Then I went on to do more scientific studies to realize that it was not for me at all. I also went to an art school where I studied art philosophy a lot. During this time, I got acquainted with photography in a different way.

I really like Marcel Duchamp, not for what he did but for who he was. We intellectualize his works to a great extent, forgetting that the essence is in fun – laughing at the art theocracy and its closed-mindedness.

Julie Berthelemy “The most important thing missing in society today is fun”

I don’t compare myself to this illustrious artist but I try to keep this essence. I want to have fun: not only am I convinced that it’s contagious, but also I have the impression that it’s what’s missing the most in society today.

On the importance of color

Color is very important to me because it gives a touch of optimism to everyday life.

Sometimes, a simple object that we come across, gets a totally different value when highlighted with a tonic color. It’s like magic. The color gives wings and provokes wonder.

On inspiration and project creation

I think life is beautiful. For me, beauty is not an appearance. It is a balance between two opposites: shadow and light.

In my works, I point out the absurdities of society and make metaphors and oxymorons out of them.

Today, we feed herbivores with an animal meal or contaminate pesticide food just to make it beautiful. I highlight these absurdities with little childish provocations and try to amaze by making things look different.

For me, beyond inspiration is a need to communicate, to share an image with a little more lighness than words have.

Before choosing a photo subject I always ask myself these questions:

  • how will I be able to give magic in the present moment?
  • what could cause a change from the perspective of what surrounds me?
  • how could I make myself smile by looking around?

I have a small notebook where I write down my ideas. I carry it with me all the time. But often projects come from a different perspective on everyday life or from boredom. It’s wonderful to be bored, it’s the source of imagination.

Julie Berthelemy “The most important thing missing in society today is fun”

Then, I have what I call a treasure chest with all the things I bought without really knowing what they were going to be used for.

When I start a photo session I display all my treasures and mix them in such a way as to provoke fortuitous encounters or magical accidents. But I always start a session with my notes, which allow me to see the possible encounters between the different objects.

I usually spend a day in the studio doing that but I don’t measure the time of each composition. It’s a bit of an adventure of the here and now, where anything is possible.

The mythology of the fish with crystals, hands and legs

Objects often carry both reality and mythology. Mythology is a belief stuck to reality and conditioned in the collective unconscious. It substitutes reality and distorts it to the point of making us forget the true nature of things. It influences the perception of things poorly but authoritatively by penetrating the consciousness.

The myth is a silent and sneaky representation. For me, arms and legs are the symbols of the feminine. They are what fashion, magazines, patriarchal society have gradually locked into archetypes by generating standards of perfection impossible to achieve.

Julie Berthelemy “The most important thing missing in society today is fun”

However, men are also prisoners of these beliefs. Their sensitivity is censored and judged… They must be strong.

The belly could be the symbol of the cave (Allegory of Plato’s cave) or the uterine cavity as a symbol of protection or reflection. Like the whale’s belly in Pinocchio.

The kind of mix and match of the senses and essence are to bring about a change of perspective. Crystals are a symbol of luxury but fish are dead.

Can we eat crystals?

Julie Berthelemy “The most important thing missing in society today is fun”

Explaining the idea of the chicken series

Chicken is a dead animal and an object of the industrial consumption produced on a large scale. I mixed it with recognizable elements of attachment to the image or a form of “no future” revolutionary accessory.

Julie Berthelemy “The most important thing missing in society today is fun”

The second one plays on the child’s frustration by playing with the memories we have of our parents reminding us to finish our plate before having a dessert. The magic of birthdays with candles and sprinkles is broken by the chicken, reminiscent of frustration.

We have all been children.

Julie Berthelemy “The most important thing missing in society today is fun”

How to think outside the box

I must admit, I didn’t ask myself that question too much. I do what I love so I guess I’m on a very personal path.

Maybe stop wanting to be trendy?

Have fun, enjoy what you do, share your passions and emotions and, above all, be yourself.

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