Jean-François Lepage – Heart Speak
Paris-based photographer Jean-François Lepage describes himself as ‘Mickey Mouse shooting Jessica Rabbit’. A swirl of cartoon images floats in our heads, as we dream up this uncanny sight. We deem his job is, in a word, ‘fun’. His images though, provoke something more poignant, the bodies of women cut and pasted with illustrations; looking into a shattered mirror, diving into a bottomless pensive. But let’s not be too bleak or serious, after all, this photographer got his start by taking photos of his cat.
Jean-François Lepage has collaborated with brands like Comme des Garçons, Dior, Jil Sander, Lanvin, Levi’s, Masaki Matsushima, Nina Ricci, Repetto, Rue du Mail, Shu Uemura and Vanessa Bruno. His work (some selects you can see above) has been featured in zines like AnOtherMan, Grey, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Italian Amica, Numero, Nylon, Purple, Self Service, 7000 magazine, Sleek, Stiletto, Twill, Vogue and Wall Paper.
And now, most generously, here.
After drooling for a bit over his body of work, we got in touch with Jean-François Lepage, and asked him a few questions. Here’s what he had to say…
Favorite thing to shoot?
I believe it’s women because most of the time I’m shooting fashion images.
Do you remember your first picture? what was it?
I’m pretty sure it was my cat when I was like eight years old.
How do you make your images look like 3D and cartoonish?
I didn’t know my images were looking 3d or cartoonish…so I can’t really tell you how I do it!
What kind of photographer would you call yourself?
Mickey Mouse shooting Jessica Rabbit.
When you’re not behind the lens, what are you getting into?
If I’m in the country side I like working on my house, when I’m in Paris as I do all my production and post production myself I always have something to do.
Worst shoot experience?
I don’t really have a worst one, but certainly when I was a younger photographer some advertising shoots, which were not really fitting with my way of working.
Favorite shoot experience?
Any time I’m traveling with nice people sharing great moments before, on and after the shooting day.
Who inspires you? What photographers or artists do you admire?
Well the list could be very long, if I have to choose only three: JC Bach, Velasquez, Dreyer, Diane Arbus and…Michael Jordan…that makes five… as you can notice, they are all retired.
What makes a perfect picture?
The imperfect one.
Your work reminds me of something like Yohji Yamamoto…
Well thank you, he’s a great designer. When Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons did their first show in the 80s, it was a big step forward for fashion.
How do you know when you ‘got the shot’?
The model collapses…to be more serious I never really know if I’ve got the picture. Let’s say I just feel it but sometimes it happens that I decide to re shoot the image a few hours later.
If you could shoot anyone/thing, what would it be?
Anything on Mars, Venus or whatever planets other than earth.
What projects are you working on right now?
A book project. It’s long, a little bit too much self-focused, but it’s a good step for going further in the future.
What is the best thing about doing what you do?
The way I work, I believe a sort of freedom which is a kind of luxury.
If your images could talk, they would say…
Let your heart speak instead of your brain.
Do you believe your next photo is your best photo?
Well there is not really a better image than another. Some are more essential in our progress, but they are not necessarily the most accomplished.
Why is photography important?
Photography is not particularly important. Breathing is important, but during our life we need to be inspired by people who are or have been able to transmit to us sentiments or emotions. At that precise moment, like any other medium, photography can make us breathe better; in this particular case, it’s a unexpected and important moment.