The distorted and disruptive world of Brussels-based fashion photographer Kelly De Block owes as much to modern-day technology as it does to a propensity for a somewhat Lynch-esque experimentation in the studio. She sees her subjects not as mere models to be photographed but, rather, as foundations upon which to layer her unique vision and aesthetic. We interviewed the up-and-coming talent to talk collages, contrasts and connecting with people.
How old are you?
I am 22 years old.
Where were you born?
I was born and raised in Brussels, and I intend to stay here for a while. The city still has so much to offer.
Did you study photography?
Yes, I studied photography at Sint-Lukas in Brussels. Last September I graduated with a master’s degree. I did a project about a hybrid state of being in which the male and the female entity become one and undefinable. The woven structure was a way of expressing this thought.
How would you describe your work, and your approach to photography?
The collage technique and photography are the two main recurring elements of my work. I am both intrigued and inspired by media. But my work finds itself mostly in a fashion discourse which I see as a manner of expressing myself. In the past few years I lost track of collage a little bit, but I rediscovered it last year. I try not to limit myself to the medium of photography, but rather put it in relation to different media. It is important to me to create a tactile object and by doing so I try to bring a perception of time into my images.
What informs, shapes and influences your work the most?
I am inspired and visually stimulated by contrasts that I find in society and daily life. When selecting a model, I try to choose someone who has something contrasting in their look. Something ‘off’ in a way. Whilst doing my woven series I got very inspired by model Andrej Pejic, his position in fashion, and his extraordinary appearance. It’s really in the details for me. I also draw a lot of inspiration from books and magazines. The book ‘Cutting Edges’ was and still is an inspiring piece of work for me.
What are you most comfortable photographing?
I’m a very social photographer and I need to photograph people. I have a lot of respect for other subjects, but I don’t have the same connection towards photography that doesn’t involve people.
Who are the photographers you grew up with?
When I was younger I was really impressed with Herni Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. It’s really something completely different then what I am doing myself! Later I got more interested in photographic painters like Michael Borremans and Gerhard Richter, and photographers Joachim Schmid, Claude Cahun, Man Ray.
Do you remember the first time you picked up a camera?
The first time I photographed with more of an awareness of myself, the camera and my subject, I must have been about 18 years old. I had a great but naïve passion for the act of photographing.
What is the last thing you photographed?
The last thing I photographed is for a new project I am currently working on. I am working around appearing and disappearing and the achromes. I worked with a very talented model for it, called Cilou Annis. She really brought the images to a whole new level. For the moment I’m still experimenting with the prints.
What is in store for you in 2012?
I have the feeling that it will be a productive year. I will mostly be working on some new personal projects that I am really excited about. I just had some exhibitions in Los Angeles, thanks to a competition organised by Smashbox Studios. My photos travelled to PHOTO L.A., an art fair in downtown Los Angeles. By now they are on there way to another one. I am really curious as to what the future will bring!
Which fashion story recently caught your attention?
Three websites you religiously visit every day?
One website for inspiration?
I get inspired by many many things, and when I surf the web for inspiration, sometimes it seems like it’s just one big blur! It all depends on what I’m looking for. I really love uberandkosher.com and the tumblr page: catswearpyjamas.tumblr.com. Both of them are very inspiring to me and I find loads of inspiration in their work and in the images they collect.
What do you listen to when shooting?
There is really not one specific kind of music listen to every time. It depends on a combination of my mood and the emotions I want the model to have during the shoot. Most of the time I let the models choose what gets them into the right mood. But if I choose, it’s something like Amon Tobin, Gold Panda or SBSTRKT.