PROFILE

Aline Deschamps

A woman dancing on a beach in Lebanon with a group of people under large, striped umbrellas behind her.

Canon Ambassador Aline Deschamps took this image of a migrant domestic worker from Sierra Leone dancing on the beach in Beirut, Lebanon, as part of her series I Am Not Your Animal. Aiming to shatter stereotypes through her work, Aline highlights qualities in the people she photographs that might otherwise go unnoticed. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens at 1/6400 sec, f/2.8 and ISO250. © Aline Deschamps

Canon Ambassador Aline Deschamps is a French-Thai photographer whose work mainly focuses on issues relating to identity, including gender, migration, exile and cultural heritage. Using creative digital techniques, she challenges established perceptions and encourages us to see familiar subjects in new ways.

Aline was born in Paris but was raised in Bangkok until she was six years old, before returning to live in the French capital. She studied in Paris, gaining a master's degree in international relations at Pantheon-Sorbonne University and a postgraduate diploma in digital media arts at École Professionnelle Supérieure d'Arts Graphiques (EPSAA).
Aline's passion for photography first developed when she was a teenager. She became a Young Ambassador for the children's charity UNICEF and held her first exhibition, Regards sur l'Enfance (Views on Childhood), in 2009 while she was still at high school. She later took part in group events, including Djerbahood, an open-sky museum project featuring the work of more than 150 street artists in Tunisia, for which she was the official photographer.

Since then, her work has been shown widely, both in print and online, in publications such as The New York Times, Le Monde, Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post.

Aline says she grew interested in experimenting with digital techniques while on her course at EPSAA. "It really opened my eyes to another world," she says. "I learned about creative digital technologies, including augmented reality, TouchDesigner and animation. These tools showed me it was possible to tell stories in many new ways."
A headshot of Canon Ambassador Aline Deschamps.
Location: Beirut, Lebanon

Specialist areas: Documentary, photojournalism

Favourite kit:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
A man in a white t-shirt holds orange flowers over his face in front of a brown backdrop. The image is superimposed over another shot of the same flowers.

An image from Aline's Marvelous Manhood series, which visually translates men's social testimonies in order to help break gender stereotypes. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM) at 45mm, 1/125 sec, f/9 and ISO200. © Aline Deschamps

A man with bleached blond hair holding blue flowers and crying, posed in front of a pink backdrop. The image is superimposed over another shot of the same flowers.

Aline describes her Marvelous Manhood series as "an invitation to demystify masculinity". This image of a young model named Zéphyrin has the caption: "Sometimes I cry, mostly during movies." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens at 1/125 sec, f/14 and ISO100. © Aline Deschamps

One of Aline's recent personal projects is Les Grands Hommes (The Great Men), which grew out of her voluntary work with refugees in Paris. Here she presents her subjects in a radically original manner: in a position of power and dignity, inspired by the French official presidential portrait. Another of her projects is Marvelous Manhood, a series of portraits that explores and subverts the contemporary construction of masculinity by showing men embracing their sensibility and vulnerability.

However, Aline says the project which has impacted her the most – and been the most challenging – is her latest, I Am Not Your Animal. This series of documentary images showcases the daily lives of migrant domestic workers who originally came from Sierra Leone and are now stranded in Beirut, Lebanon.
A male sunbather in a baseball cap watches a woman on a swing at a beach playground.

A migrant domestic worker from Sierra Leone playing on the swings on a beach in Beirut, Lebanon. "At first, the women could be a bit defensive, but once they saw that I was coming back to visit them, and that I really wanted to document their lives, it was amazing," says Aline. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens at 1/3200 sec, f/4.5 and ISO250. © Aline Deschamps

"For this project I had to be very involved with the women, which was emotionally demanding because they were obviously in incredibly difficult situations," she says. "Their everyday life was a real struggle to survive, and they had been badly abused and neglected. But once I began to return to meet them, they started to trust me. The relationship was like a friendship, and it helped the women regain trust towards others and eventually return home."

I Am Not Your Animal combines the two social and artistic ambitions that ultimately drive all of Aline's work. "I aim for my projects to challenge the common perceptions of my subjects and have a positive social impact, as well as being aesthetically beautiful or poetic," she says. "If I can do that, then my goal has been achieved."
Why do you use different creative techniques to present your images?

"Documentary work is about showing reality, but there are so many ways to do it. Using different creative techniques is just a choice on how you want to tell your story, and this artistic approach can raise different questions and lead to different emotions for the audience. That is what interests me. I try to adapt my techniques according to what I want to say and the emotions I wish to provide."


What inspired you to explore contemporary masculinity in your project Marvelous Manhood?

"My generation has a lot of discussions about gender, and my male friends tell me about the weight of gender stereotypes and the impact toxic masculinity has had on them. So for me, it was important to highlight this subject. Displaying more diverse representations of masculinity is not only a necessity for men, it also stands among the current challenges of feminism."


Is there any advice you'd give to other female documentary photographers?

"Don't be scared to really focus on your work and express your own sensibility – it can push you forward to show the world from a female perspective. There are a lot of things that men can't see or capture. For example, in my recent series on women migrant domestic workers, I don't think a man could have captured the things I did, because he wouldn't have been accepted in this circle – the women wouldn't have felt comfortable. So see it as a strength, and take advantage of being a woman to tell stories in your own personal way."

One thing I know

Aline Deschamps


"My main advice as a documentary photographer is to try to build a meaningful relationship with the people you're photographing. When you work on a long project, for a few weeks or months, you develop a relationship where the subject can share with you stories they would not otherwise reveal. And these stories can help you to build a new narrative, one that's much more original and creative. I feel that these meaningful relationships are at the core of strong visual storytelling."

Instagram: @alinedeloscampos

Twitter: @alineldeschamps

Website: www.alinedeschamps.com

Skrevet af David Clark


Aline Deschamps' kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Aline Deschamps' kitbag containing Canon cameras and lenses.

Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Designed to perform in every situation, the EOS 5D Mark IV is a thoroughly accomplished all-rounder. "I love how easy it is to switch from shooting photos to videos and vice versa," Aline says. "I don't need a team around me to do it, so it enables me to be very autonomous and work on my own. Also, the autofocus is very practical, and the fast tracking of subjects is extremely valuable."

Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

A standard lens that can be relied on for superb performance in any field of photography. "The quality of the image and the background blur you get with a narrow depth of field is just incredible," says Aline.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The successor to the lens that Alina uses has a reputation among professional photographers for being the go-to zoom, thanks to its sharp optics and its ability to be used in almost any environment. Aline says: "I love this lens. It allows me to be more versatile, which is especially important if I'm working in a confined space."

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