Rather than fixating on the clothing or obsessing over the figure, the French fashion photographer Marwane Pallas places a special emphasis on the external objects within the frame. Props within the scene that would normally serve a supporting role are given equivalent degrees of attention to the standard “centerspieces” of the fashion photos.
One of Pallas’ signature methods of redirecting the viewer’s attention is simple: place an object in the center of the frame. Ripe grapefruit slices, heads of red cabbage, and coat buttons steal the composition, sometimes placed within the actual photographed scenes and in other moments superimposed on top of the already shot photograph. This approach causes all other details within the image to be considered in context with the central object, forcing a harmony (or intentional disharmony) to occur.
As deliberate as they may seem, the introduction of objects in Pallas’ images are something of an instinctual reaction to his immediate surroundings: “The objects are both very random and dictated by scarcity,” Pallas tells Creators. “My approach is very economical; I do not prepare shootings in advance. I look into everyday objects that I could use as companion for a picture in the same way kids do: stripping them of their domestic uses of purposes and anything else I can’t learn from them with my eyes, focusing on the colors and shapes.”
“I try to make connections, to look for surrealist yet simple visual metaphors,” the photographer adds. “An orange split in two becomes an open chest. My afternoon snack becomes the prop for my next shot. And so on.”
The button on the other hand, came about more as a solution to Instagram’s strict limitations than a search for aesthetic connection: “I only started using buttons as a way to avoid Instagram’s censorship on my nudes (and because of the play on words). They were never really meant to be canon!” Pallas explains.
Beyond the employment of external objects, Pallas’ practice is also unique in his use of self-portraiture as a tool within fashion photography, a stylistic mechanism usually separate from the genre. The reason primarily relates to the convenience and freedom it allows: “I shoot self-portraits because I enjoy the independence; I don’t always want to rely on others,” tells Pallas. “Shooting self-portraits gives me the luxury to fail and grow on my own.”