Strange and Experimental: The Photography of Julien Jacob
By Lars - 6 min read
The young photographer tells us why it’s important to constantly challenge yourself.
Julien Jacob (@julienjcb) is a 17-year old photographer from France. None of his photos are alike: Using creative composition, he constantly remixes his own aesthetics. We asked Julien how he develops his style.
On your profile you say that you are “experimenting” in life. Is that also true in your photography?
I think experimentation is essential in order to progress and be happy as a photographer. Photography is a way to see and express things differently, so I always try to get new frames and shapes into my pictures, find interesting lights, and to explore new topics. Sometimes I play with the settings, too.
Do you think first of technique or composition?
I would advice everyone to concentrate more on the creativity than on the technique.
”Mistakes are beautiful”
How do you find your subjects, then?
Experimentation brings new subject and photos I would never had thought I could make. I like to challenge myself, since it puts me into new situations that are often uncomfortable or emotional. All that forces me to make mistakes and to think about what I really want to achieve. Mistakes are beautiful and I try to reuse them when they have interesting results.
What do you consider interesting?
Outcomes that have a message or a story I can develop further. Which means more experimentation. Photography is clearly experimentation in itself, especially the processing of the images.
You mean how you edit the photos after you have taken them?
Yes, exactly. I use post-processing to recreate the atmosphere or the mood I was when I shot the pictures. That’s why I never use the same presets for editing and maybe also why I don’t take photo series at the moment. I adapt my approach for each photo, prioritizing certain colors, tweaking contrast, white balance, or noise. I don’t have a magic recipe – I just try things out and play around, constantly looking for something new to evoke emotions.
”Photos have a message and we need to listen”
That’s an interesting point: using photography to recreate a point of view. When you look at other people’s work, do you put yourself in their shoes, too?
I like to think about what a photographer wanted to show, without overanalyzing the pictures. It would be inappropriate to forget the pure emotion you get from first seeing a photograph – because sometimes that’s all that matters. People who have a message should to be listened to and in front of their work we just need to pay attention. When I shoot, whether it is to remember or to express something, it can always turn into a completely new message. That justifies the recreating the point of view, I suppose. That’s why I am often fascinated by self-portraits, as they’re a great way of telling intimate stories. I’m a big fan of David Uzochukwu’s self-portraits, for example.
How did you get into photography?
From the time I learned to hold a pen, I’ve liked to draw as a means of escape. I drew everything except the real, by which I mean reality as you can see it – I had trouble drawing human hands and faces, which was very frustrating.
Then, as I got older, I noticed that I had less and less time to draw and needed something new to express myself. A quicker process to get an image. Both my parents had some cameras, which I suppose inspired me to pick up a camera as well. A friend gave me one, an analog camera that was a little damaged but still worked. That’s how I began taking pictures and this time I was also able to capture reality! It has opened up many new creative perspectives, but now I often need more time to take a picture I’m satisfied with than I need to draw something…
“Photography helps me find out who I want to become”
How are you developing your style?
That’s a hard question because it implies I know who I want to become. But that’s what’s beautiful about photography: It helps me to grow and find out. I feel like by taking photos I am naturally developing my style. And maybe it’s better that way: I could pick a destination right now but still be wrong about it.
I’ll nevertheless tell you what I’m aiming for at the moment:
I want to work on one theme at a time. I have so many projects in my head that it becomes hard to focus on one subject a time. That’s the problem with experimentation: You start feeling the paradox of choice.
You mean having so many options that you can’t decide which one is best.
Exactly. So my plan is to keep shooting and share my work. I’d like to collaborate more or simply meet other photographers. But I’m young and it’s often hard to find people of my age who are interested in art and photography. That’s why I plan to develop a collective of photographers, in order to promote young talents around Angers, France. I want to produce some zines and I hope to one day have an exhibition – but I need to work on it!