Demure or outrageous, each picture has a story that the photographer’s eye senses and draws out. In Patrice Berchery’s case, dream and fantasy are brought in, creating not just a style but a whole way of being. With him, women’s bodies as much as their attire, accessories and adornments engage in a fundamental – or even existential – dialogue to create his looks and icons: models or sitters who personalise their femininity, animality and tenderness. Beauty always challenges and provokes. Just as I am, will you love me?
When I remember my father giving me my first Kodak I think of God giving Peter the keys to heaven. Paradise, with all its temptations, wonders, mysteries and forbidden fruit. Then came my travels in the Middle East, where women nourish our fantasies because they are out of bounds. I was an enchanted young Westerner in the land of Scheherazade. The scent of harems floated in the air. They were building houses like the palaces in Arabian Nights. Some architecture firms asked me to photograph their buildings and held exhibitions to promote their work in situ. That’s how I became a professional photographer. Eastern fantasies have influenced me ever since.
The contracts have come quite naturally. In no particular order I can think of Playboy, Kaporal, La Fée Maraboutée, Didier Parakian, Reiko, Beau Monde Agency and Publicis. My life is organised around my travels scouting for unusual settings for photo shoots or reporting. In between I have settled in Marseille for the sake of its multicultural lifestyle. Right now I have a 250m2 space at La Friche Belle de Mai to show my photos. They are always about the bodies of women who know how to be bewitching, disturbing, provocative or comical. I shoot them as urban goddesses clad in the accoutrements of seduction and conquest. But they are also water nymphs, fountain fairies and enchantresses dwelling in lakes, gorgons emerging from the sands or from underground rivers. My books, exhibitions, reportages and fashion and advertising photos all reflect this mad desire for femininity. The exhibitions keep coming: at the Carré des Halles in Paris, the Docks des Suds in Marseille and the Institut International de la Mode, for example. Until 2014 I was at the International Fashion Photography Festival in Cannes every year.
1969: My father gives me my first Kodak
1980: I discover the Middle East and its fantasised women
1991: My first contracts
2010: Participation in the International Fashion Photography Festival in Cannes
Par Gérard Martin
Photographie de Marian Adreani
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