5 Things We Learned... Sophie Ebrard
SOPHIE EBRARD, PHOTOGRAPHER
AMSTERDAM, NL and LONDON, UK
Sophie Ebrard is a compassionate provocateur. She wants to ignite conversations on subjects we find curious, but that we often stay quiet on for fear of judgement or gossip. She uses photography and multi-sensory experience to create more holistic narratives around subjects such as love in the porn industry and the complexity of motherhood, the subject of her new exhibition “I didn’t want to be a Mum”. Her soft, comfortable and uncomfortable artworks are undeniably intimate, but also inviting. This ability to gently draw you into such complex subject matter is her gift.
Her work has been exhibited worldwide. She was included in 2015 for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize Selection at The National Portrait Gallery in London. Her signature exhibit, “It’s Just Love”, exhibited to wide acclaim during the 2016 Unseen Art Fair in Amsterdam as well as in a pop-up space in Kyoto, Japan. It featured in international press such as Vanity Fair, Time, Marie Claire, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Dazed. As a photographer and director, her commercial clients include Rolex, Heineken, HSBC, Samsung, Stella Artois, Timberland, Volkswagen, and Google.
Here are 5 Things We Learned about Sophie.
What made you...you?
I grew up in a village in the heart of the Alps. When I was a kid, I used to draw a lot and take pictures of my friends and horses. I was always very creative. But at the time Internet didn’t exist; and it was hard to imagine what kind of professional life I could lead outside of the mountains. So I went to business school as it seemed like a sensible thing to do and I went on to work in advertising agencies in Paris and then London. It took me almost a decade (and a burnout!) to realize that in fact my childhood passion for photography was what I wanted to do for a living. A bit more than 9 years ago, I left my well-paid job, picked up a camera, learnt the craft and started a new career. It’s been an amazing journey so far. I don’t think I would be the photographer I am today if I didn’t have my first experience working in advertising though. It taught me to always be on the top of my game, and thrive for excellence. But it has also trained my eye to take a picture that instantly tells a story (the way an ad tells a story with one image). When I shoot images, I never just shoot because it’s pretty, I usually shoot because it says something to me; because it tells a story in its own way.
When are you happiest?
When I’m shooting and I’m looking for that perfect decisive moment where something magical is going to happen. All of this lit by a perfect golden hour light. What a thrill!
Would you rather have a muse or be a muse?
Have a muse 100%! My current muse is a French actress who lives in Paris, her name is Audrey. I’ve taken countless photos of them (mostly nudes). She always inspires me to take amazing photographs. When we are together there is this magic that operates. We are no longer photographer and model, we become one in our collaboration. And the nudity is never awkward. Her nakedness becomes almost like a prop.
Who do you admire?
My son. He is the artist of the family. You give him anything and he turns it into the most amazing piece of art (mostly painting). He recently painted on the test print images of my next exhibition and the result is just extraordinary.
What is important?
My family. Hands down the most important thing in my life. I’m about to open an exhibition (19-22 Sept in Amsterdam) in a few days called “I didn’t want to be a Mum“. It is a multi-sensory exhibition exploring the ambivalence of motherhood. The aim of this project is to question the convenient assumptions that we make about motherhood - which are carried throughout today’s society - in comparison to the realities of the experience. Becoming a mother involves an identity shift, and is one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience. The unspoken challenges of motherhood mean that women often struggle through this in isolation, ashamed to admit how they feel, questioning themselves: Am I weird feeling this way? With “I didn’t want to be a Mum”, I want to educate people on the realities of the experience. By doing so I hope it creates a platform for other women to come forward and express their feelings without guilt or shame.
Join her for the exhibition opening “I didn’t want to be a Mum” on Sept 18th. Exhibition runs Sept. 19th-22nd.
Images from left to right: Portrait of Sophie by Mr. Jose; Image from “I didn’t want to be a Mum”; Image from "It’s Just Love”; “Audrey”; Image from “Paracuru"; Image from “I didn’t want to be a Mum”. All images courtesy of Sophie Ebrard.