Elise Boularan aims to catch the truth in her images, attempting to define the undefinable. The 29-year-old was born in Narbonne, France, and got her masters degree in Creation and Artistic Research from the University of Toulouse. She also studied photography at the Toulouse School of Photography. Her images vary from strong portraits, to still-lives filled with texture and mystery, to striking landscapes. Boularan’s images seem surreal, and are inspired by many different things, from stories to hazardous landscapes. Elise Boularan spoke with Resource about her beginnings, her inspirations, and her future in photography.
How did you get started? When did you first realize that you wanted to become a photographer?
When I was a child, my godfather brought me cameras from Germany, and my parents gave me pencils to play with. Photography has always been with me. I was painting during my art studies but my way of expression quickly turned to photography. I took classes about it and decided to do that as a living.
You shoot portraits, still life and landscapes; do you prefer one to the others?
I don’t think so. All are interesting. Portraits, at first, are a way to catch a fugitive impression of someone. When I shoot still life, I like to figure out a situation, a story that is interesting to me–the audience doesn’t know what happened before and what will happen next. Landscapes are interesting as well because of the possibility to lose yourself in them, in the contemplative moment. Melancholia and wildness are fascinating to work with and help build a complex enigma. Talking about enigma, the mystery behind subjects is probably the thing that makes me move from one to the others.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Many people confide in me. Their stories are feeding the ones I tell for myself. Not necessarily directly. Walking by myself in strange landscapes is another way to get inspired… I have many pictures colliding in my head most of the time.
Your images feel very surreal; what goes into creating that mood?
I don’t think I work in a particular way to create a certain mood. It’s all about how I feel, the things which are taking place in my mind or happening in front of my eyes. It can seem weird to some people but it’s probably because I dare showing what I think is the truth with no useless artifacts.
What equipment do you use?
Depends. I like both digital and analog cameras. If I had to choose, I’d probably choose film rather than files.
Why do you like working with Polaroids?
It’s something hard to explain. I like Polaroid’s colors and the fragile touch it gives to my pictures. I’m currently thinking about continuing with Polaroids or stopping, and I am more and more keen to choose the second.
Do you have a favorite image or set of images? Why is it your favorite?
There’s a diptych in particular that I like in my work. I shot this in 2010 and they are the only pictures that stand the test of time–my good opinion of them doesn’t fade. This picture is « Des électrons sous les paupières ». They meet the evolving criteria I work with to build my imagery.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years?
Firstly, I’d like my personal exhibition in a New York’s gallery to be a positive experience and a new evolution in my work. I’d like to be able to offer a new kind of images. That’s a big challenge for me.
On the other hand, I’d like my work to fit with works on demand. Being able to confront my vision with other ones.