Kimbra Audrey is a self portrait photographer based in Paris, France.
"Her images are poetic, sincere and huntingly beautiful". We had the privilege of asking Kimbra more about her and her work. Interview below.
Images by Kimbra Audrey
What star sign are you?
I’m a libra! In my moon and rising, so truly a libra through and through. I am always seeking balance.
Where is home?
Home is in Paris! I moved from NYC two years ago after living there for 8 years. Paris is my favorite city in the world and it’s where I have felt the most connected thus far in my life.
What does a typical day at work and also a day off consist of?
I’m always working. I try to shoot everyday, but even when I’m not shooting I’m always thinking of my work. It’s all consuming. I develop and print all my work at home and it is a very slow process. I’m constantly surrounded and immersed in my photography. Even moments in life when I’m trying not consciously thinking of my photography an organic moment can influence me in ways I may not even realize in that moment. I believe that everything is connected. I also love to travel and be alone, in nature or with animals.
Are you self taught ?
I studied black and white 35mm film photography in High School. However, I shoot pretty much exclusively 120mm and polaroid film now, which I learned entirely on my own. I also develop color as well as black and white at home, which I never studied anywhere. So the majority of the methods I use now are all self-taught. I love science, I love learning, I love experimenting and it has been really rewarding to teach myself so much about film.
What was your up bringing like?
My upbringing was extremely untraditional and tumultuous to say the least. I didn’t grow up in a loving, supportive family so I had to learn and seek that out for myself as an adult. I will say that I am truly grateful for my upbringing as unconventional as it was because it has lead me to become the woman that I am today. I believe that everything happens for a reason and all my lessons in life, even the dark and messy ones, have taught me skills I use in my daily life now.
How did photography become one of your main tools for expression?
I was literally exploding with emotion, and I had no outlet. I had so much anger, rage and sadness inside me, dying to be articulated and released. I began taking self-portraits while I was still working full-time as a model and just needed an escape, I needed to create images of how I actually saw myself and how I actually felt. It quickly became addiction, it finally gave me the power to simultaneously release and contain all these feelings I had, that had previously never had an appropriate channel. I had tried many other artistic mediums before, and been taking photos for years, but once I began taking self-portraits it was like I could finally say everything I had been trying to say my entire life. I could finally be myself, feel myself, and show myself they way I actually saw myself.
Do you only shoot self portraits ?
Right now self-portraits are my primary focus, it is what I find the most fulfilling. I certainly do take pictures of other things, and I love to shoot my friends when I feel inspired to do so. However, I see all my work as self-portraits, even if it’s technically not a photo of myself, all the work I create is an expression of myself or what I see in another person, place or thing.
Your pictures are very honest. I read that you do not retouch your pictures. This is something we truly believe in and love about your work. What inspired you?
After modeling for so long, I couldn’t recognize myself. Nearly every image that was taken of me for ten years was retouched and to battle that I began taking self-portraits. My being was craving honesty, and I had this burning desire to make authentic images of myself, for myself, and no other purpose than that. Retouching goes against all of my ethics, it’s dishonest, and I find beauty and power in the way I am naturally. It makes me very sad that we live in a society that is so superficial and transfixed on this idea of perfection.
How do you choose the people you work / collaborate with?
I’m extremely selective about who I choose to work with because my work at it’s core is so personal and sensitive. I love to collaborate with my friends, it’s such a special thing to take self-portraits with people that I love, it can be awkward and silly, but also beautiful and giving each other the space to be free, comfortable and natural is so powerful and so important. I also only work with brands that are in alignment with my ideals and morals. For example I could never wok with a company that wanted me to retouch my images, because I wouldn’t be being true to myself. I would rather have less work, that is truly meaningful, than an abundance of work that is dishonest.
Favorite place in the world and why?
That is something that is constantly changing. I’m still discovering so much of the world that I can’t definitively say where my favorite place is, and a place I may have loved ten years ago, I may not even like today. I also believe that you can be happy anywhere as long as you are at peace with yourself. However, the place that I have been most drawn to this year is Sedona, AZ. I felt an extremely deep connection to the land and relationships I formed with people their completely changed my life and perspective.
What do you do for self care?
I meditate daily and I’m also vegan. As someone who has struggled a lot with my physical health, I take self-care extremely seriously. I go to acupuncture regularly and I always use natural medicine before western medicine. I pride myself on being independent however I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it. The support I’ve received in this past year from friends and mentors has opened my eyes to being vulnerable and learning to take better care of myself. I also suffer from depression and have to constantly battle that but my greatest relief for that has been my self-portraiture. It is completely cathartic for me to articulate my emotions in my work.
Currently listening to ?
Lana del Rey is one of my favorite artists. I also play piano and love to play alone in my apartment, it’s very relaxing for me.
What is happiness to you?
The friends and the relationships I have add to my happiness but I have learned that I can only be happy with others when I am happy alone with myself. I lived life for a long time with the ideal that material goods contributed to my happiness but I now know that’s not true for me. I am happy when I connect with others and can make a positive impact in peoples lives but the roots of my happiness all begin within me. I am happy with animals, when I connected to earth and in nature. I am happy in solitude.
What inspired you to shoot mostly nudes?
Honesty. I also wanted to be as far removed from “fashion photography” as humanly possible. The simplest way to do that was to not shoot any clothing, so when I began taking self-portraits I started shooting nude. It was also an exploration into myself, being nude gives me the ability to express strength and vulnerability simultaneously. I have nothing to hide, and give myself fully to my own work. I also don’t want my work to ever be misconstrued as traditional fashion photography in the modern sense. After working as a model fro nearly ten years, I became extremely turned off by how superficial all the ideals and values are in that industry. I strive to create honest, raw, and authentic images, and have found that nudity is a powerful tool in articulating that.
Do you only shoot film?
Yes, I only shoot film, I don’t even own a digital camera. I have no judgment for people that do choose to use digital photography, however, it’s simply not in alignment with who I am. My work is based on honesty and film is something real, physical and tangible, while digital photography is a synthetic medium. My work is about the entire process, not simply taking a photograph, but developing my film and printing my film, it’s all cathartic and extremely important to me. I’m also very slow, and my work is slow, I don’t have instant gratification when I’m shooting and that makes my work so much more special to me.
What photographers have influenced your work.
I certainly have profound respect and close friendships with a lot of photographers but none influence my work. To influence means, the power or capacity of causing an effect, and I believe that each human is solely responsible for their own power. We all have the power to create our own reality, and that is what I am showing in my work. My life experiences certainly influence all of my self-portraits. Some photographers that I admire are Marianna Rothen, Katie Silvester and Kayten Schmidt, they are all friends of mine and I truly adore them and their work but their work doesn’t influence mine in anyway.