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Interview: Photographer Amandine Grulois (Belgium)

Briefly introduce yourself to our readers.

Hiii, my name is Amandine Grulois, just turned 30 and from Ghent.

Graduated as a social worker and therapist. I loveto travel and discover the world in the most unsafe and untouched places there are. Started working as a phototherapist since 2 years; something that grew very naturally from a trauma, more about this later.

Although my work is deeply personal, it is also accessible, addressing human nature and allowing the viewer to enter my world and reflect on their own bodies and mindsets. A daily reminder, shared with the world via Instagram, to reflect on freedom, nudity, being and having.The result is addressed not only to those interested in photography and art, perhaps even more so to those who encounter eating disorders, self-love, psychological disorders and are interested in seeing themselves or loved ones from a different point of view.

How and when did you start photography?

Photography has always been a part of my life. In my childhood I was always taking pictures, as well as during my recovery and admission within anorexia clinic I always had a camera within reach.

What does photography mean to you?

I use photography as a form of therapy for myself and others. Four years of my life I struggled with depression and an eating disorder without any self-love at allll. I was finally able to recover my first eating disorder and depression after a long stay in a French clinic. Now we are seven years on and by exercising a lot and taking lots of pictures as a way to communicate how I felt, I was able to recover from a second depression/eating disorder last year....

What do you find sets your work apart from others?

I am an Aquarius; an Aquarius is eccentric, unpredictable, social and is a free spirit with lots of leeway. These characteristics flow forth and can be found throughout my work. I am a phototherapist and my project "god is a naked soul" is a transformative experience that uses the power of nude photography to change the perspective about the body & self-love and begin to address it differently! My work to capture your natural beauty and empower people! Personal sessions are open to all women, men, x, couples, introverts, extroverts,.... at any stage of life who are looking for self-love, self-confidence, body image support or just a simple celebration of themselves!

The main goal of my project "God is a naked soul" is to put an end to certain stigmas such as "the perfect" body, psychological disorders, eating disorders in our society by sharing inspiring stories and portraying the real people behind the labels. This can be done in a sensual, slightly harder, artistic,... way. As a model you are the author of your whole story and shoot.

I am not interested in the body as an object of desire, but a place of neutrality. It's not about what your body looks like, but what it can do for you. By recognizing what the body is capable of, rather than what it looks like, we can find unexpected pleasures in both viewing and possessing it. I want my work to be like a mood that passes through you, and if the work makes you feel empowered, seen, heard or whatever, that's a big win for me....

I think it is high time to share my story through art and photography, because I think talking can help us recover something of what has been lost. I see our mental health as a scale and we should try to do things that help us find our balance every day. It's okay to be off sometimes, it can indicate a need for rest, a break, some more self-love or many other things that can positively strengthen you. I believe in the power of change. No negative thought is final nor is a destination, we are constantly evolving

"I'm photographing your strengths, and you're releasing your own personal power"!

Where do you get inspiration from?

The person sitting in front of me gives me inspiration at the time of the shoot. Before the shoot, I like to get to know the person in question to a deeper level. We chat around a coffee, tea to get to know each other better and as soon as the person comes in I feel them very hard. Through the introductory conversation words often come to mind, and around these key words I work. So no two shoots are the same. I always start from a story, a soul and I draw this through the photos. My inspiration; THE MODEL! fo sure :)

Do you think about what you want on the photo beforehand?

No, what I do to ask the models in question; is to create a mood board in which I see who they are as a person. Quickly I notice which way I want to go; are we going the sensual way, or just the slightly artistic, daring way. It all actually lies in hanging the person in front of my lens. So I can't plan much in advance, I mostly let the moment depend on it and flowin''''

Do you edit your photos and what do you do about them?

Because I want to break the fcking taboos; I absolutely want to work without Photoshop. The more pure, the better. I like to put stretch marks, fat rolls, pimples, and pretty wrinkles in the picture. I do use Lightroom to bring out the mood and soul of the person in question. I like to go in the more artistic direction, not the typical portraits. I invite the model to see herself through the eyes of the other person. Instead of dissecting your own photos and digitally correcting every inch of ourselves, let's wisely leave Photoshop aside and post photos with real smiles, stretch marks, wild hair and freckles,riiight?

Where do you prefer, Location or studio?

I very much like to use the creativity of the person sitting in front of me :) If the person has an artistic disposition and likes to go in that direction, I am very happy to go create in the studio. When the person has something wild and natural, then my preference goes to nature. It just all depends very hard on the person sitting in front of me. Does the person want to get out of their comfort zone or not? Or does that person in question just want to go for something intimate and cocooning? I always gauge this in advance of the shoot. So it doesn't depend on the nature of the person but rather what they want to create.

What are your future plans or what can we expect from you soon?

My 2022 goal was to be able to hold an exhibition and shout the vulnerable stories and taboos of my models together on the rooftops! Every story is important and it can help people feel less alone in their struggles. My first exhibition of my own was a reality. In 1 day I got more than 250 people from all over Belgium & France together. Several exhibitions (also abroad) are already scheduled for 2023. I am now in Franz Gustav in Ghent with 6 pictures and strong stories for 3 months. click the qr code on the picture to know the story behind the model on the picture.

I am working on a photobook, preparing several exhibitions and would love to get my work throughout Belgium and France, to work with familiar faces and thanks to the familiar faces break taboos even more. Dreams are allowed, right?

What do you look for in the models you work with?

Purity. Genuineness. Emotion. A real soul. A vulnerable, strong woman, men, x

What do you think of our magazine?

Inspiring, intriguing and fucking awesome!

Do you have another message to the modeling world?

Always be yourself, embrace your imperfection and be kind to yourself :) Finding ways to like, accept, love or even feel positive about your body can be challenging in the world we live in today, but we can all try to be a little kinder to ourselves and each other, right? Being loving and kind is how we nourish, care for and move our bodies. It is about the language we use out loud, online and in our heads - to ourselves and others. - amandine.grulois - Amandine Grulois

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