[Originally posted on October 2008]
Estelle Hanania is a French born and Paris based photographer, while pursuing her graduate degree at the School of Fine Arts in Paris, she freelanced as an art director for Ogilvy, a post she left after graduation in order to pursue a career behind the lens. A month after receiving her degree, Hanania won the photo prize at the 2006 Hyères Festival. Since then, her photographs have appeared in Vice, The Wire, Exit, Sang Bleu and Capricious, among others, and she has been commissioned by fashion brands including Maison Martin Margiela, Opening Ceremony, Issey Miyake and Zucca. In 2008, Hanania began her collaboration with Christophe Brunnquell on photo-performance projects under the name Hanania & Brunnquell.
Was it always your dream to pursue a career as a photographer?
I’ve been taking pictures since i’m in “collège”, we (my sister and a few friends) took part in a small black and white photo workshop during lunch time. After high school I was in a graphic design school where i studied art direction, and only after this i really focused on photography when i was in Paris Fine Arts school.
Who is your role model? Or the most interesting woman you met?
I don’t really have one role model, my models are any people who do things in a passionate way.
Where do you get your inspiration from? (things / person / place….)
Documentaries is an artistic form that inspires me a lot; reality has a stronger impact on me and when it is directed by an inspired person that can be amazingly strong. Inspiration though can come from people I saw in the street, I’m very attentive to the people around me and I focus on faces, sometimes i just can’t stop looking at someone in the bus or subway that i find inspiring for some reason.
What was the collaboration you enjoyed the most?
Well, each time I’m working in collaboration with someone, it’s a special moment and these moments can’t compete. I enjoyed being in Switzerland with 11 men of the Silvesterchläus group, and i also enjoyed being alone with Hoichi Okamoto, very lonesome puppeteer in the japanese countryside. Also loved working with artist such as Christophe Brunnquell for Sang Bleu magazine, that was very interesting and fun too.
It looks as though your work may be inspired by movies. If so could you name a few?
Yes I can be inspired by movies and documentaries. I saw “Streetwise” from Martin Bell recently, it haunts me since then. There are also some filmmakers that are great source of inspiration, Tarkovksi and all his movies, or Jan Svankmajer , a tcheque film director who did for example “Otesanek” and “Faust” which are incredibly surrealistic. One of my latest favorite discovery is “Deep End” from Jerzy Skolimowski a tragic love story which takes place in the 70’s in public baths and slowly slips from reality to a surreal atmosphere.
What are your favorite fanzines and magazines?
I like Maurizio Cattelan editorial projects a lot, like Permanent food, because it forces you to look somewhere else than what you’re told to. 032C is definitly a reference. I like Sang Bleu magazine a lot too. I used to read Issue Magazine, but unfortunatly it stopped a few years ago.
Is there a medium / technique that you haven’t tried yet that you’d like to experiment in the future?
Yes! I’d like to paint small naïve paintings, describing very genuine scenes of everyday life…
What are your favorite places in Paris that you’d recommend to visit?
Well what i love to do is to sit in the bus 86 from Bastille to Saint-Germain des prés, and just look to throught the window.I love the road.
What is the most interesting place you’ve ever travelled to?
Japan by bus ! I’ve seen both the countryside and cities like Tokyo, Nagano and it was a timeless trip.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured / interviewed here?
2 people, is that possible? Because I can’t choose… A friend of mine, the photographer Camille Vivier, with an extremely personal way of taking pictures with a great eye both in the fashion and in the art world. And my twin sister, Marion Hanania, who is both an inspired shoe designer and a very talented and sensitive illustrator.