Could you tell me a little bit of your trajectory? What made you choose a creative pathway?
I began working as a model when I was 15 in NYC for nearly a decade and during that time I was severely depressed and being taking self-portraits. I was extremely frustrated with the images constantly created of me during my modeling career. I started taking self-portraits as a way to create images of how I saw myself and how I was actually feeling. I hated how retouched fashion images would be, sometimes I wouldn’t even recognize myself. I also really struggled modeling for brands who’s values weren’t at all in alignment with my own, especially fast fashion companies that are not only harmful to animals and the environment but also their employees. I also dislike how superficial most fashion images feel to me and a huge part of my work is creating raw and authentic images which is why I do not retouch my photographs. About four years ago, I decided to quit modeling, I moved to Paris and began focusing on my self-portraiture full-time. Self-portraiture has allowed me to explore myself and specifically my depression in a healthy, creative, and productive way. My depression can be so debilitating that I don’t think I could work a more structured job at the moment so I feel truly grateful to be able to do something creative for a living.
How did you get into working with photography? What does it appeal to you?
I never graduated from university but studied black and white 35mm film photography in high school which I absolutely loved. While I was modeling I would take a small film camera with me and really enjoyed taking portraits of friends but when I began self-portraiture there was a huge shift. Photography was no longer something I simply enjoyed, it become an all encompassing passion, an obsession, my life’s blood. My self-portraits are a part of my being. One of my favorite things about my work is that a photograph is capable of saying more than words. A huge part of why I’ve always felt so drawn photography is because I can be quite shy and have struggled with expressing my emotions I feel truly grateful to have this medium to be able to express myself.
How do you think your upbringing influenced what you do today?
I grew up in a broken home and experienced an enormous amount of trauma as a child. A huge reason why I began modeling at 15 was to escape that and gain financial independence. I’ve struggled with depression since I was little and still do. My upbringing is an integral part of my work, the experiences I had growing up have shaped who I am today. My experience working as a model is also a huge part of my work, I was a child when I began modeling and was thrown into an industry I was not at all prepared for. Starting modeling at such a young age completely shattered my self-esteem and that is something I was slowly able to rebuild through my self-portraiture. I don’t have any resentment from my past, but feel truly grateful for the experiences I’ve had good and bad because they are such a big part of my work and my identity.
Auprès is much inspired by the art of handcrafting. What’s your relationship with handwork? I know that you only shoot film, and besides photographing and modelling, you also develop and print your own photos; so it’s a much manual, physical process.
Handwork is extremely important to me and something I love so much about film photography versus digital. I made a darkroom in my apartment as soon as I moved to Paris and love the process of physically developing my film by hand. Film is a physical and tangible object that I shoot, develop, hold and print. I love the entire process from start to finish, of watching my film come to life in my hands it’s a slow and meditative and honestly feels like a rebellious act in a society that is centered around being fast and instant. I enjoy that I can’t see any of my images instantly I like taking the time to develop my film, it takes true patience. I also believe you have a deeper connection, and appreciation for something when you do it by hand.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?
My struggles with my own mental health are probably my biggest source of inspiration and an integral part of my work. I’ve had depression for nearly my entire life and self-portraiture has allowed me to explore that in ways nothing else has. It can be extremely challenging when I’m not feeling well, which is a lot of the time, but it can also be really rewarding to be able to create something from that pain. My relationships are also a huge inspiration to me, a lot of my closest friends are also artists or photographers and it’s really special to collaborate with them. Traveling is also very inspiring to me, I love to discover new places to shoot.
Do you have any rituals or routines that help you maintain a creative energy flowing?
I’m not a huge morning person so I usually start my day quite slowly. I have celery juice every morning and cigarette. It’s a time to clear my head and focus on whatever I’m doing that day, whether it’s shooting, scanning, printing, or sending emails. My celery juice is the only thing I have to do daily, besides that I try to practice yoga a few times a week which I find very grounding. There are definitely times where I feel much more inspired than other times in my life. As an artist, I don’t think we necessarily have control of our creative energy at all times, I’ve also discovered my energy is really affected by the seasons. At home in my studio it is easier to feel more lethargic, especially in the winter when it’s colder and gets dark earlier and I have less daylight to shoot with. I definitely shoot less in the winter months but try to do more printing and use that time to reflect on past work and future work so that when spring and summer come I’m ready and more focused.
Does intuition play an important part in your process? Or is it something for you that comes more from the mind than from the gut?
Intuition is a huge part of my work. Usually when I shoot I have some idea in my mind and the moment I start shooting it evolves immediately through my intuition. Obviously there is a technical aspect to photography that comes from the mind but even in that sometimes some of my favorite images are “mistakes”. I try not to have expectations or hope when shooting, because the second you start to hope you are not being present you’re wanting something outside yourself outside of the present moment. One of the most important parts of my work is being fully present. It can be challenging to get out of my own head when shooting sometimes, but all of my favorite images have ben made when I can fully surrender to my intuition.
Any ideas you are looking forward to explore in the future (new techniques, tools, approaches, etc)?
I’m just finished a series of taking daily self-portraits during the last confinement in France and am working on making that into a book. It’s the longest period of time I’ve taken daily images, 46 days, and shot 79 rolls of film all developed by hand at home of course, so it’s a lot to go through. I also really believe in sitting with my work, it takes time to understand my photographs, sometimes an images is initially my favorite and then a few weeks or months later I look at the same roll and discover a image I prefer or had previously overlooked.
Could you name a few of your favourite artists / makers / creators?
My favorite artists are my friends. My best friend, Kayten Schmidt is a very talented artist and she also takes some self-portraits. Katie Silvester is also a dear friend and very talented artist. I love being able to collaborate with my friends it’s always really special to work with people you feel completely yourself and safe with.
Any current reading / listening / watching recommendation you’d like to share?
I love reading, especially non-fiction, I’m currently reading a collection of essays called, “No One Asked For This” by Cazzie David who is absolutely hilarious and very relatable.