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Models and photographers

3 films
I'll move forwards, backwards, look into the viewfinder, step aside. It's not that it won't do, it's just that I'm looking. It's a slow pace.
- Bettina Rheims
DK2R Team

Of course, there are photos that we "take", sometimes on the sly. But when we evoke the photographer's relationship with their model, whether portraiture, fashion, or press, we'll talk of what the model is "willing to give". 
Between the taking and the giving, therefore, lies the alchemy of a very special relationship.
A picture-building partnership where, though the photographer is the architect, a lot depends on what the model understands of their own role. 
The photographer can "direct" (as one directs an actor) or follow. And, depending on the case, they can also coax, reassure, negotiate, suggest, put an arm around... or sometimes destabilize to bring out the picture.
As in all human relationships, there's a chemistry that either works or it doesn't. Each has their method, their way of working together, which has little to do with the technique and the framing, which then sublimate the intensity of an emotion.
This circuit brings together films where the photographers evoke this unique link to one another.

Films on the theme

Support and experiment

This film will lead you to the studio of Bettina Rheims and – rare indeed – you will witness a photo shoot that is part of her Héroïnes series. A series for which she asked women of "unconventional beauty” to sit upon a stone and said “This is your stone. This is all you have left in the world..."

From the model's makeup to the arrival on set, Bettina supports and reassures. She gives warning of what she's looking for, that it won't necessarily be easy. She keeps in vocal contact with her model.

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A dialogue between the set and the shot

This film will take you to a session of erotic shots by Frédéric Fontenoy, meticulously executed in the 1930s' aesthetic.

In the only room in which he photographs, we see the scenery coming together, the models getting ready and coming into play. Behind his camera in the bedroom, Frédéric Fontenoy composes his picture in minute detail and directs the poses, but facing the image everyone speaks up.

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Senegalese method sublimates model

This film will introduce you to the unique world of Mama Casset's African Photo studio, located in the medina in Dakar. 

His sensitivity and his search for the perfect pose focused all the brilliance of Senegalese society from the 1940s to the 1980s. His models testify and reveal his method, the power of his gaze.

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Further exploration

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To read

• BETTINA RHEIMS: CO - directed by Patrick Remy ; 2017 Taschen ; multilingual

GENDER STUDIES - artist: Bettina Rheims ; 2014 ; Steidl Verlag 

• BETTINA RHEIMS HÉROÏNES - exhibition catalogue at Jérôme de Noirmont Gallery ; Jérôme de Noirmont ; 2006

• MODERN LOVERS - artist: Bettina Rheims ; 1998 ; Edition Braus

INSIDE - artist: Frédéric Fontenoy ; authors: Véronique Bergen, Laurent de Sutter and Ludovic de Vita ;  2016 ; Alkama ; printer: Escourbiac ; French, English, Chinese

PHOTOGRAPHIES 2006-2011 - artist: Frédéric Fontenoy ; authors: Jacques Henric, Lionel Dax ; 2011 ; editor: Alkama ; French and English

• THE MODEL WIFE - author: Arthur Ollman ; 1999 ; Little, Brown and Company

L’AFRIQUE PAR ELLE-MÊME - by Anne Marie Bouttiaux, Alain d’Hooghe, Pascal Martin Saint Leon ; 2003 ; Musée royal d’Afrique centrale de Tervuren et Revue Noire edition ; in French

• MAMA CASSET - authors: Pascal Martin Saint Leon and Jean Loup Pivin ; 2012 ; La Fabrica

MAMA CASSET ET LES PRÉCURSEURS DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE AU SÉNÉGAL - 1994 ; Revue Noire editions ; in French