These days, ex-model Poppy De Villeneuve’s feels more comfortable behind the lens. No wonder, seeing as her dad’s the photographer who discovered Twiggy. We talk to her about her new collaborative photography project, ‘Dusk Until Dawn’.
Do you consider yourself a film director or a photographer?
These days I’ve been mostly directing. Photography is a huge part of the way I get to that, I take pictures and they inform the work I’m doing as a director. So I think both.
Which do you prefer?
Photography has its own power in that it holds a moment in time. With film you can create a story in long format. It’s like a photograph is a distilled story and a film is something that you get more time with it, you have more room to breathe with it as a viewer.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever photographed?
I spent a lot of time photographing inmates in Louisiana. I don’t know if it was weird, but it was definitely complicated in that working out how you feel about these people is pretty complex.
Weren’t you intimidated?
They were pretty gracious with me. Maybe I was just lucky! I don’t feel intimidated by the things that I can see. I feel intimidated by the things I can’t see. With photography and film I find it less intimidating because I’m connected to whatever the experience is.
Some photographers find it annoying that anyone with a smartphone considers themselves a photographer? Do you agree?
It’s the way our world works. You can photograph anything around you, and I find that really interesting. For me it’s really important to pull the audience in as well, so photography is a collaboration with them. I did a video with The Vaccines with Instagram, and it was just so great that we made the story with other people’s images.
How would you describe your new project ‘Dusk Until Dawn’?
It’s a project that captures the unseen side of the UK during the lowlight hours. We have different categories over the five weeks, from ‘my location’ to ‘my inspiration’, and the audience is encouraged to enter the competition so that they’ll have the chance to win an HTC cameraphone and to go to the Northern Lights.
You’re the daughter of Justin De Villeneuve, the photographer who discovered Twiggy. Was there any pressure to go into the family business?
When you have a parent who does something, you are like ‘I’m not going to do that’. But I realised that photography’s my way of communicating, and you know what, if that’s the way I do it then I must have inherited some good genes!
How do you get your subjects to relax?
I try and find a way that’s going to make them feel like I’m representing them in a way that they feel comfortable with. My aim isn’t to take advantage of someone, it’s for it to be collaboration. That’s why I like film so much, also, because film is so much about collaboration with the other people.
Do you remember the first photo that made an impact on you?
The Richard Avedon book The American West. I just remember seeing his pictures, so simple on a white background, and thinking that you really see the characters. That’s one of the main reasons I became a photographer – just to see people tell a story in just that one image.
To enter the competition, tweet @htc_uk with #duskuntildawn with your photographs and runs till the end of August.
Words: Zing Tsjeng