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Prize-winning photographer Allyssa Heuze on her collaboration with 13 Bonaparte.

Within the space of one week, emerging photographer Allyssa Heuze won the prestigious Wallpaper Prize at Hyères Festival in France and launched a new series in collaboration with Parisian label 13 Bonaparte. Here, she muses on her approach (don’t shoot straight) and offers advice to other young photographers.

Tell me about the narrative behind your new series for 13 Bonaparte.
13 Bonaparte really likes to collaborate with young photographers for its Le Denim campaigns. They gave me carte blanche, so I could really do what I wanted and try to balance our two different universes. I recreated an empty apartment because any new collection is also kind of a new beginning. I’m always looking to play with what is usually considered mundane. So, the set is very minimal—just a carpet and a table and chair—but there’s also that fun sense of nostalgia that you get whenever you start something new.

Is it inspired by your own move from the Philippines to Paris?
I moved to France five years ago for photography school. I’d been in the Philippines my whole life, so moving to Paris was pretty tough in the beginning. The people here don’t have the same temperament as Filipinos and the climate… it’s so gray. I was only 18 when I moved but now I’ve adapted to the French ways.

  • Words:
    John Clifford Burns
  • Photography:
    Allyssa Heuze

You’ve just won the Wallpaper Prize for photography at Hyères Festival. Are you reflecting on your work? I’m thinking a lot about what I want to do in my personal projects as I’ve been focusing more on editorials and fashion lately. The project I submitted to Hyères is my personal work. It’s about sex and the different ways of representing a subject that’s taboo and not that easy to talk about.

Is sex easier to photograph than talk about?
I wanted to use lots of metaphors and playful humor, so sex is not directly mentioned. It’s really a play with the viewer. And that’s how I think, even when shooting fashion. I really like playing around with subjects—the things that we experience every day and think we already know. I’m trying to keep a naïve, playful mindset in all of my projects.

Do you think you can ever be taught to be a good photographer or does it require something more instinctive?
I don’t think school is necessary, but it does really help your work. You’re surrounded by other creatives and that gives you the motivation to really produce. Your latest image is always what represents you, so you must keep going.

Do you like having your own photograph taken?
No, not at all.

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