Alma’s world is one of colour, motion, eccentricity, and fun. Drawing on themes such as gender performance, identity, and escapism, the London-based photographer blends multiple photography and production techniques to create larger than life works that feel like the modern-day love child of pop art and surrealism.
Tell us a bit about yourself – where did you study, where are you based, when did you start photography, why etc.
I’m a photographer based in London, originally from France.
I did my BA in Photography at LCC, UAL; my masters in Fashion Film and Photography at Paris College of Art; and my second masters in Fashion Photography at LCF, UAL.
I also attended the School of Visual Arts in New York for a semester during my bachelor’s degree, as part of an exchange programme. I loved New York; During my bachelor’s, I studied conceptual photography and studying in New York introduced me to fashion and fashion photography for the first time.
What are your current influences?
My influences are the photographers Tim Walker, Annie Leibovitz, Nadia lee Cohen, and also painters like Egon Schiele, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol.
Music on the whole influences me, I was introduced to Mika in 2007 when he released the album Life in Cartoon Motion and that was so colourful and creative. I saw him live at a festival a few years later, and I was like – oh my god he’s even better in real life. His music is amazing, I love it.
You are now based in London but have studied and worked in Paris and New York – what draws you to London and how is the creative scene different here?
Initially I moved to London because I wanted to study at an English university. My parents also told me that the creative industry is great here. I found Paris to be very classical in a sense. I felt like you had to know people in order to make it there. However, I only stayed there for 9/10 months so maybe that wasn’t enough.
I decided to come back to London, because I felt like London was way more open-minded and creative. People are free to do whatever they want here.
I found New York was really fast paced, and quite tiring. But I did a couple of photoshoots with the people I’d met in New York and that was a great experience.
Here, in London, I have friends who are also creatives. I feel like there’s no competition here, everyone is very nice and supportive – most the people I’ve met anyways, especially students at LCF who are incredibly supportive of one another.
Your current work has a very distinctive visual style – how did this develop?
I started using more colour in my work just before the lockdown in 2020; before that, I was creating very sombre black and white photos. During lockdown, I felt really trapped in my house, so I did a lot of self-portraitures.
‘I’m my only subject so I’m just going to photograph myself’.
I started to replace and change the backgrounds of my photos to escape reality. People really loved this so I just decided to go in that direction. I dug out my fisheye right after lockdown and thought that adding this effect to my photos was cool as well.
As artists we always need to evolve so I’m thinking of what’s the next step especially as I feel like I see a lot of fish eye and similar edits to mine around now.
As artists we always need to evolve, and in a way, I feel like now my style is everywhere – everyone does those edits with fish eye so I’m thinking of what’s the next step. Maybe it’s about mixing a few things together.
You held a solo virtual exhibition called ‘Bubble Wrapped’ with The Holy Art late last year – how did this differ to in-person exhibitions, what did you like about the experience, and what will you take forward?
That experience was a bit tricky – in the sense that since I didn’t meet anyone, I feel like the attendance was lower, and I also didn’t hear much back from attendees. I think it was a bit sad that I couldn’t meet or interact with anyone since it was all online. However I take all opportunities as they come, and it was still a great experience, and I’m grateful to the gallery for inviting me.
I am planning another exhibition, I just need to find a gallery – it would be a project with my mum who is a painter. I would re-create her paintings via photography, and she would re-create my photography as paintings.
She is also definitely an influence upon my work, I grew up around her paintings and she would get us to paint in the afternoons and draw a lot, she has so many art books all around the house for me to flick through as a kid.
Which creatives outside photography do you admire?
Can I say brands? I love Gucci and Moschino’s creative direction, it’s amazing – the clothes and the shows and the campaigns they make. Especially Moschino – Jeremy Scott understood the vision of Moschino so well. His work is amazing, so good.
I like to read smaller books, fiction, novels etc. I’m currently reading Just Kids by Patti Smith – there’s photography and more. It’s self – written and I really love the way she writes.
Does music impact your process – how so?
I do listen to music all the time, I wake up to music, I live with music, I feel like for me, it’s my adrenaline. If I feel tired, I can put on some music and it wakes me up.
I grew up with music as a child; I used to go to bed and put on a tape – I had Elton John and Elvis Presley songs. I was listening to that kind of music before falling asleep. Music probably influences my work in the way that there’s a lot of movement, a lot of colours. And now working with musicians, I feel like they’re becoming just as much my industry as fashion in a sense. With music you can have a lot more fun, you can collaborate with the singer, and they want to be loud – it’s like yes! It’s that sense of loudness that I love with them.
Who would be your dream musician to shoot?
Mika! I would love to work with Angele as well, a Belgian singer.
What have you been proud of? What do you aspire to within your career?
I’m proud of my Adidas campaign in 2019. That same year I shot for Daily Paper, in South Africa. The most recent one I’m proud of is Remi Wolfe. She’s a singer based in LA. They couldn’t fly me out, so I had to direct the shoot from here in London, which was a great experience. It introduced me to directing a photoshoot from a distance. I’m proud that I could direct a shoot from so far away using technology.
I won the Positive Youth Foundation Prize in 2020 and that brought me a lot. I was published in the BBC from that. I was like ‘oh my god what’s happening’ I had so many people come to me, so many articles, in all different languages, people writing essays about me for uni. I couldn’t believe what was happening. So many things came from this.
I take work as it comes, I collaborate with people. I’m hoping to be happy in life and in my work. I’d like to become a bit more successful in the sense that I would like to shoot for billboards or large campaigns. I would love to work for Gucci or Moschino. I love LOVE magazine, and POP, of course Elle and other fashion magazines.