Paloma Saint Léger’s imagery of the French shoreline whisks the viewer away to a world of stripes, deck chairs, and stolen window views. Here’s how the French photographer feels about long solitary walks and capturing the beauty of everyday-life.
What do you look for when creating your compositions?
In my compositions I usually focus on textures, colors, and details, on making them either absurd or aesthetically pleasing. The light at certain moments of the day will also have an impact on the end result.
What do you feel most comfortable capturing?
I’m drawn to the unspoken charm of everyday life. These last few months have been very tough on most of us, and now more than ever—whenever I am walking outside—, I tend to really absorb what is around me and shoot all the things that make me love a particular moment.
Which themes and narratives does the viewer encounter in your work?
Nature has a very important place in my life. I am amazed by its beauty and how it calms me down, whether it’s the ocean or the mountains. Our place in nature is also something I like to observe, we are just part of the scenery and it is something I like to give a glimpse of through my images. People tend to find my work melancholic, which I am always moved by, as I do look at the world and how it is now in a melancholic way.
“Our place in nature is also something I like to observe, we are just part of the scenery and it is something I like to give a glimpse of through my images.”
When did you realise that you wanted to work with photography?
Photography has been a part of my life since I was young. I received my first film camera when I was around 12 and remember going to photography exhibitions whenever I would visit a new place. I have a very curious mind and have always wanted to try many different things to see if I would enjoy them (some people call this multipotentialite.) So, I would sometimes take up a hobby and stop it a few months later. But photography stuck with me all these years.
What do you love most about your profession?
It is never boring. There are so many talented photographers out there but we all have our own way of looking at things, feeling things, and applying our sensitivity to an image.
When do you feel most inspired?
I am most inspired when I travel. It could be one or two hours from home or someplace far away. Being in a new place or a place I haven’t seen in a while brings me so much excitement. I notice things that I might not notice in a different place. I like to go for long walks with my cameras and my eyes wide open. You’ll often see me walking around, smiling on my own, out of all the joy I’m feeling.
Can you tell us about your biggest influences?
The photography and art books I collect (Fred Herzog, William Eggleston, Andy Goldsworthy for example), the exhibitions I see, and the work of fellow photographers on instagram.
Rather than influencing me, they inspire me to do more and to create bigger bodies of work.
Do you have a favorite piece of work and could you tell us about the story behind it?
My favorite piece of work from the past year are a couple of images portraying children during the pandemic. I shot those images on the first summer of covid in the South of France. Life almost seemed normal but there was an underlying anxiety growing in all of us. Looking at these kids being so innocent, calm, and joyful felt like putting all the worrying on pause and diving back into the lightness of growing up.
How do your surroundings inspire you?
The most important thing for me is the light. No matter if I am in my home country or in a new place, this is the thing which always inspires me the most. Then, of course, the architecture of a city, nature, and the local people will do the rest.
What do you enjoy the most about your practice?
Catching moments, scenes, and people who moved me and holding on to their traces for years to come. Just by looking at my images, I will be able to dive right back into the moment.
Paloma Saint Léger is an international photographer, graphic designer, and art director. After studying in Paris, Cape Town, and Milan, Léger currently works on multiple projects in film, theatre, and fashion.To learn more about her work visit her Instagram and her Website