Sony ambassador Julien Mauve’s latest project, Greetings from Mars, uses a series of images to tell a story
Photography by Julien Mauve.
Julien Mauve uses sequences of photographs to express meaning and tell stories. His Greetings from Mars project reflects on society’s obsession with holiday snaps and selfies, against the backdrop of a near future in which tourism has moved off-world to Mars. We speak to Julien and find out why he chooses to present his work in series.
Wex Photo Video: What got you into photography?
Julien Mauve: Artistic expression and communication, mainly, and then a desire to perfect my technique. I’ve been into photography for a very long time, but have been doing it on a more professional basis since my first project in 2012. Before then, it was more of a hobby. I did my first exhibition in that same year. It’s a pleasant way to express myself and motivates me to continue on this path. I’m always looking to develop an idea through imagery. I’ve been doing that for four years, through series with around ten photographs.
W: What attracts you to space exploration as a subject?
JM: I’ve been fascinated by space since I was young, so it’s a way of revisiting my childhood. I used to read books and encyclopedias on the subject and made essays about it at school. It’s a way of going back to that feeling through the creation of very personal photos. I only work for myself; I don’t do commissions or work for a company. For me, it’s something personal. It’s about doing things that reflect me.
W: To what extent do you think a cleverly conceived message can alter our perception of an image?
JM: Some pictures may be less powerful than others when viewed separately, but what matters is the overall result. I take pictures and put them together in order to tell a story. You can view my projects aesthetically, but if you look closer, they raise questions about our way of life; how new technologies are shaping our lives and the future of mankind.
W: There’s a clear narrative within your Greetings from Mars series. Can you explain the idea behind it?
JM: The idea was to picture a couple visiting Mars and acting as contemporary tourists, photographing themselves within the landscape and taking selfies. I looked closely at similar photos on Instagram and tried to replicate the behaviour. I love the fact that the astronauts’ helmets mask the person. It could be anyone in the suits. We’re all actors in this modern society — selfies are often seen as egocentric, but they are simply a way of staging our life and telling our story.
W: Do you follow a specific process when creating a series?
JM: It depends on the project; some are more spontaneous — you just jump in the car and go. For others, there’s a lot of reflection. I had to plan Greetings from Mars extensively: When? Where? How? I also had to organise insurance, and find suitable costumes and locations. There’s also a lot of thinking afterwards, about the narrative behind the series, the story I want to tell.
W: How has being a Sony Ambassador helped your photography?
JM: I’m really proud to represent Sony. As I travel a lot, I need equipment that’s light, and the size of the image is important to me as well. My A7R Mark II is light, the quality and file size of the images is great and the electronic viewfinder is very comfortable too. In terms of partnership, Sony leaves a lot of room for creativity and provides me with a lot of support. In turn, this pushes me to create inspirational and original projects.
W: It's easy to think of photography as single, unrelated images. What’s the advantage of producing a series of photographs?
JM: Working in series is quite common for professional photographers. Nevertheless, a large part of photography — particularly on social media — consists of posting single images. Creating a series of images is an interesting exercise. I like it because it allows me to create more interesting narratives. When done properly, it’s a powerful way to communicate a message and trigger emotions.