While his mother baked “absurd but very beautiful” pastries all day in her house, Paris-based photographer Hubert Crabières was out working in the photo lab next door. Here in Dijon, the capital city of Burgundy, is where he developed prints and created his new series for fashion and photography magazine Edicola.
With a loose creative brief and a theme centred on the family, Hubert gathered his team: Riccardo Linarello, creative director of Edicola, as well as his close companions Jake and Boris, plus his little brother and friends who were to model. “I wanted to photograph a family reunion around a sweet meal,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I imagined the poses, the situations or images according to what I knew was possible in Dijon. And after speaking with Riccardo, we really wanted this family to be celebrating something, without defining what it was about.”
The outcome is fantastic and indeed a celebration. Printed scarves are tossed in the air, while life-sized and cup-sized cut-outs are placed in such a manner that it forces you take another look; hands are held at the table surrounded by a Dali-esque feast, but they seem to be missing their bodies; and vibrant colours fill the frame with a harsh flash and bold iridescence – the more you look at them, the more you start to wonder what is going on.
Another shot sees a deflated body laying on a stairway: “I also wanted to give a cartoon-like element with almost liquid bodies as if they were disconnected from their environment,” he says. Hubert explains that when he’s composing his imagery – like the deflated body – his process begins with several sketches, which he does every time he’s about to prepare for a shoot. Then, he goes by a “general rule”, whereby he must have a list of what he wants to photograph noted down.
“For example, before the shoot I know exactly what kind of effect I would like to create or what feeling this or that idea is based on,” he explains. He then acknowledges that perhaps some of his concepts might be too out-there: “In fact, I have no idea at the time of the shoot about how feasible it will be. It is this kind of unease between an idea and the way it resists its staging that defines my work so much. This is one of the reasons why I work with almost no effects in post-production.”
This style of instantaneous snapshot imagery can be seen throughout his portfolio, with his recent commissions for Leje and Vogue Italia, as well as his collection personal projects, following in the same vein. “To realise an idea, you have to find something immediately and on the spot. You work with what is around you,” he says, clarifying his urge to photograph with the unknown. “This tension, this form of instability or imbalance gives a decisive impetus to the process.”