I have conducted a little interview with photographer Latifa Messaoudi, who captured those lovely Mei promo pics. Also, she has just finished a new photo shoot with Mei, so...watch this space!
What do you love about being a photographer?
When I was little, I thought of a photographer as more of an ethnologist. I was captivated by all the travels he would embark on and of all the amazing encounters that would ensue. Today, for me, the photographer lives right on on the edge of ambiguity - in a perpetually fascinating way. And at the same time, he/she always has to remain a discrete observer. I love to be thrown into this situation to think (observe, watch, wait) and to act (click at the right time) simultaneously, to be challenged to be able to execute that in an instant.
Do you have any favorite photographer / style or main artistic influence?
My main influence are the paintings of Frida Kahlo. For photography, it’s Sebastiao Salgado, Ansel Adams, Vivian Maier and Raymond Depardon.
How is it to be working with Mei / Caroline?
Caroline is a young woman who has it all: she is fascinating, intriguing and gorgeous! Having said that, it’s surprisingly difficult to take her picture. I always envision a little animal when I work with her, a creature that is both strong and fragile. Caroline is an inexhaustible source of inspiration: in fact, every time I have photographed her, I followed her more than she followed me.
What was the idea for the "forest" photo shoot?
It was Caroline’s idea - she wanted to be photographed in the forest with her favorite insect. As usual, I have worked spontaneously. I tried to bring out an “animalic” side in Caroline as she can be sweet and endearing, but she also always remains inexplicably “wild”. So ultimately, we were exploring a fine line between animality and femininity in this shoot.
I think nature is a mighty force that can divert human rationality and impose something on our collective imagination that’s hard to describe. In a way, nature remains the only refuge (or metaphor) for true freedom in society. Therefore, nature was the perfect environment for a photo shoot with Caroline. We worked 50% actively towards a certain outcome and 50% of the time was waiting for nature to surprise us.
So capturing Caroline (almost) nude in true harmony with nature was great - in theory. On location, it was very cold - despite the magnificent sunlight you can see in the pictures. Plus, since she was half naked, I constantly kept looking around to see if anyone was watching us. In the end, we had to act very fast to get the shoot done.
Without any constraints (budget, time etc.), how would you portrait Mei?
Deep under the ocean or in space. I’d like to capture her “cosmic” side, like a female version of David Bowie.
In general, what do you think are the three things / factors that make a great portrait?
1) A direct connection of the eyes of the model & the eyes of the photographer.
2) The photographer’s work creating an encounter with a unique soul and a unique spirit.
3) The photographer capturing a moment in time that speaks for itself, that “says it all".
If you could take ANYONE’S portrait, who would you choose?
“Everyday men and women” from all walks of life are already endlessly fascinating to me.
What are your future plans?
I’d like to spend more of my life traveling, meeting people and capturing my journey through life in (hopefully) exciting photos!
And, finally, where can people see more of your work?
Right here: www.latifamessaoudi-photographe.fr