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The Work Of Amelie Berton

The Work Of Amelie Berton - We spoke to fine art portraiture photographer Amelie Berton about herself and her work.

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Amelie Berton is a fine art portrait photographer based in Brussels. Here, we find out more about her work and what inspires her. 

a space between breaths

'A space between breaths' © Amelie Berton

Tell us a bit about yourself - how did you get into photography?

When I moved to Spain when I was 20, my interest started growing and I started to pay more attention to the pictures I was taking and to study the technical aspects. Slowly photography has taken more space in my life, I was spending more and more time taking pictures, editing them, studying technical aspects but also more philosophical aspects (I love reading contemporary photography essays and critiques).

I started only a few years ago with more creative portraits, when I discovered staged portraits. I realized photography is not necessarily a reflection of real life. It can also be used much more as a painting, as to say in a very free way. I am no reporter so I can invent a story or reveal my subject mind in a more colorful and personal way.

the fresh wound of a nightmare

'The fresh wound of a nightmare' © Amelie Berton

Is it a job for you or a passionate hobby?

Well I would say it is both, as I work a part-time administrative job, plus a full time photography one. Full-time as when you want to make a living out of your passion you do not count worked hours, especially when during your free time you love taking pictures or editing them! I also teach many private lessons and workshops. I really love to share my passion and to show people how great and fun photography can be.

I also shoot weddings, I always feel it's amazing to share such private moments with people you meet only once in your life. It is always rewarding when people tell you how happy they are.

Family pictures, as a rule I think, get priceless as time passes by. When you look at them 20 years after they always bring sweet memories.

So I feel very lucky!

A winter bird

'A winter bird' © Amelie Berton

What draws you to portrait work?

Very hard to say exactly what draws me so much to portrait. I must confess I have been taking almost only portraits since the very beginning, even adding human figures into my few landscapes. I only realized this maybe 2 years ago as it was something very natural to me and I have never thought about it earlier.

I guess I have to attribute this to my mom. I remember spending hours as a child looking through family albums she had put together. Staring at those familiar faces, yet quite changed years after the photograph was taken was very heartwarming to me. My very first motivation in photography was to leave a trace of past moments.

 

Your style involves nature a lot. What are you trying to say through your images?

I spent almost 10 years in Spain (Madrid and Southern Spain). Landscapes there are very different from where I live now, in Brussels. Here I have a huge forest nearby and the very first time I went exploring the place I felt very inspired. Maybe because it was different, and also very close from what I was used to see in France when I was a child.

I love flowers and trees, they are beautiful, they have their own life.

Nature is for me a very quiet place, somewhere out of time. You can take your time thinking far from the fast-paced cities. Nature is an amazing source of colours, shapes and textures.

I am a city girl so I love peace that nature offers me.

Fire Music

'Fire music' © Amelie Berton

Do the images involve a lot of post processing?

When I shoot a wedding or portrait session I hardly edit the pictures. I add light as I love very bright pictures, sometimes I add some touch of color, some quick skin retouch when needed for a close up but I always try to keep it very light.

In my personal work it's just the opposite. I try to do as much as possible in camera, but at the end I just love the possibilities photoshop offers. I love to play with crazy colors, surreal motion and textures. I love to control every tiny detail of light. So yes it depends on every image, I would say between 2h and 40h when I get stuck on an idea I keep on trying to translate exactly what I have in mind. Sometimes I fail, but it is a good way to improve your editing skills. Some photographers criticize photoshop a lot, but me, I am guilty, I love photoshop. Not to fix my mistakes, but to change completely my original frame.

 

Can you talk us through how you conceive an idea and then bring it to life?

Most of the time I just have an image in mind and I try to achieve this result. It can also be a feeling I want to translate into a picture. So I describe what I have in mind, sometimes I sketch it not to forget but I am terrible at drawing so I describe as detailed as possible.

Creativity is like a muscle and the more you train it the more ideas you will have.

To bring my ideas to life I always try to really think about my photo sessions beforehand. The light, the posing, the mood I want.

As I work with models I find it very important to explain to the model what I want, to be able to communicate with them my ideas. Telling them how to pose, what the feeling is that I'm trying to portray. They feel more trust in my work and more self-confident when they are directed.

To love and to be loved in return

'To Love and be loved in return' © Amelie Berton

Do you have a favourite image and why is it special to you?

I have a few favorites- for very different reasons.

If I had to choose one, it would be a self-portrait “to love and to be loved in return”. 

I love this picture as it is red, and red is my colour. It is very intense and always shows intense feelings from love to hatred.

At the beginning I was very reluctant to shoot myself, I hated any picture of myself. The fact is I always have many ideas but I don't always have a model to experiment with. Also with a model you can feel a pressure for a good result that you do not have with yourself. So I started slowly to use myself and shoot self-portraits.

It makes me feel very proud to overcome this fear. It has helped a lot to be more empathic when working with models. Most photographers hate to be in front of the camera although we always ask people to trust us and to let us take their portrait.

Also I love to see myself as someone else, my self-portraits are not necessarily autobiographical.

In and out of woods

'In and out of woods' © Amelie Berton

If you could give 3 top tips to a portrait and fine art photography novice, what would they be?

1. Challenge yourself- you can only learn if you step out of your comfort zone.

2. Do not be afraid of criticism. Most of the people who do not like your work will just ignore it so you will receive more nice feedback than nasty. 

3. Always order proof prints when preparing an exhibition – you want your work to be as good as possible.

 

See more of Amelie's work on her website

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