Do you think if we could see underwater, We would open our eyes? Would we open our eyes and explore the unknown Or would we just float, float close enough to the surface, where we could find a reflection of ourselves? And then stare and stare, And maybe even forget we can only breath the sky. Or would we reach for the light, when we would realise we've been hiding in the dark. Or should we trust the current with our sight? And flow and flow forever. Till we can truly see. I wonder.
Without having any intention to create something on this short trip to Mexico, the amount of beauty surrounding us made it really hard to resist :) So we gave in and let nature speak.
Hope you enjoy!
Just to be clear, all of these images are 100% real. 0% photoshop.
There’s something special about Islands. The vibe, the air, the people… It’s a feeling that gets to me every single time when ‘I have arrived’. Although every Island is somehow different, the energy remains the same. It doesn’t have anything to do with the beautiful nature in particular. It’s more about the vibration I sense.
No borders, no time.
Islands are limited but they’re united. People, animals, nature, they all work together. With their own set of conditions, life can evolve differently. There are no fake/invented borders. They are surrounded by the border of life. Our Ocean. People living on Islands just sit back and watch life. They watch life without having the feeling that the big dictator ‘Time’ is watching with them. Time is a concept. When the sun rises, a new day begins. When it sets, a new night begins. It’s as simple as that.
I always think it’s beautiful, yet painful seeing tourists forgetting time. A one-week escape from their busy lives. Taking of their watches, not scheduling every minute of the day. You can literally see a physical change. The realization that the sun doesn’t live by the clock and you don’t need to either, can change your entire perception.
That’s why I love Islands, they have the capacity to remind us what it’s like to just breathe. And to hear nothing but the waves and the wind.
A mix of images, in front and behind the lens, taken in Zanzibar.
''A short journey through the dreams and nightmares of the Belgian model Marisa Papen.'
"There I was.
Born out of stone.
Carved by wind and sand.
Part of a blazing world.
But the wind formed waves.
Bringing blood and broken shards.
Crushing me, pulling me under.
There I was.
Lost, hopeless, alone.
Ripped open by the wind and stone
I was once made of.
My origin - now my enemy.
Struggling to keep afloat.
Trying harder, pushing, never enough.
But I will not break.
I will not cave in.
I am strong - like the stone I was made of.
Let the waves comes in."
At the beginning of 2016 I decided that one of my projects this year would be to create a Calendar. 12 beautiful, sensual images in a dreamy set-up…
This idea soon became less appealing, somehow it just seemed too easy… One afternoon of shooting with a great photographer and it would be a wrap. Selling it for 50bucks - Cha-ching!! (If a few thousand people would find it worth spending their money on of course;) )
I wanted a project that would take over my mind. Something that would inspire me. Something where my creativity could flow lavishly and where I’d have the opportunity to collaborate with different artists from all around the world. But most importantly, something for a good cause.
Since I’ve always been very drawn to the Ocean and the Ocean has been giving me so much life, love and energy, I decided I wanted to create awareness about what I’ve seen the last couple of years... The plastic-problem so called… A simple walk on any beach, anywhere, and the plastic waste spectacle is present. Even the most utopian places are not immune anymore.
We’ve been touching nature with reckless force and soon we have to pay the price. All sea animals, from the biggest to the microscopic organisms are breathing toxic seawater infused with chemicals from plastic decomposition. Since we, as humans, eat fish that have eaten other fish, which have eaten toxin-saturated plastics, we are eating our own waste… You’d ask yourself, how senseless could we be? Poisoning ourselves… Poisoning other animals… Poisoning the world… Things have got to change. Right now. By buying this Calendar you will save the Ocean a little bit. A fair amount goes to Mission Blue, an initiative of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.) to ignite public support for the protection of Hope Spots—special places that are vital to the health of the ocean, the blue heart of our planet. As I assumed people didn’t want to put a picture of a bleeding entangled sea lion, turtle or dolphin on their wall… I tried to show some of the issues in a ‘subtle’, sometimes surreal way. I hope I somehow succeeded in this :)…
THESE IMAGES ARE NOT THE ACTUAL CALENDAR-IMAGES These are outtakes, created throughout the last year by different photographers (caption).
Just before Summer started. Charleroi-Biarritz. Flo picked me up at the airport wearing fancy shades, as only a real chillinmaster would. It was the first time we met but we got a long straight away. Our minds were riding the same wave.
We only had a 15minute car-ride ahead before we would arrive. Flo explained me a little bit more about ‘the suite’ and his idea behind the whole concept. I was stoked, couldn’t wait to get there. There it was; Hidden somewhere in the forrest of La Douce Biarritz. A getaway, half shaded, half sunbathed, uphill surrounded by oaks and pinetrees. I had arrived, escaped for a week.
At that time I didn’t even know a bigger surprise was ahead.
Maybe I should tell you a little bit more about the chillinmaster-idea before I unpack the big surprise…
So, Somewhere in March I got an email from Flo with the proposal of spending some time at his family home. He was inviting all different kinds of artists during the Summer to live the chillinmaster-lifestyle. He wanted to offer a place for creation. A place without limitations and full of exploration. He wouldn’t tell me who was also going to stay at his place while I was there so I had no idea what to expect. His e-mail was quite point-on though, because straight away I said, yes!
Now back to my big surprise… Flo unlocked the door and gave me a little tour. It felt like home! Then I met Emily. Just as I didn’t know what to expect, she didn’t know either. Emily never really photographed nude, swimwear she had done a bunch but nude… Not really… We opened a bottle of rosé and decided we would just explore the city, have fun and shoot whenever we felt like it. No plan! Somehow I already know this isn’t going to sound like a big surprise anymore, so I’m just going to stop trying to build up to this climax. The baseline is, besides (in my opinion) creating some great images, in only 5 days a true friendship was made here. One that will last for a long long time…
Lightly, slightly, I touch. I perceive, I sense, I localize,
Discretely I embrace my surface. A river of inner sensations starts flowing within. The internal state of my body changes, An eternal dance of resonance.
Intensity multiplies but everything feels more subtle. I close my eyes to become me in a state of unity. I grow conscious. My palms touch my mind. And from touch they go to carry. Guided by a higher vibration, I embrace my spirit. Photography by Nicolas Guérin
The day after Ryan and I created these images together he did an interview with ARC. When this came out Ryan texted me and told me I should have a read if I had the time. I started straight away. His words made me smile. They even transferred me. I was back there, in that room, on that bed...
At first I was going to write down some of my own reflections, or a poem, or something else. But I wanna share his words here with you instead. So here they are...
IS THERE AN IMAGE THAT YOU ARE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN RECENTLY AND WOULD LIKE TO TELL THE STORY? It would be the shoot with Marisa yesterday for sure. She has an Instagram vibe that isn’t very similar to my own work but I just have this radar for people who I think are putting out something personal, who are working on something more than attention and money or reasons that I can see, that something inside them is driving them to be who they are putting out. I had that vibe from her without even talking, just from the internet, and we finally met up. I knew it was coming. I didn’t know how but I just knew. We shot really beautiful stuff and over dinner it just happened. We both got to share some really personal things that had just happened. It’s not my place to share any of her stuff but it just led to that People learn tips and tricks for taking emotional photos, but the incredible emotional art was there just being one foot away from each other. She said ‘You want to capture this, don’t you?’ and I answered ‘I do.’ She said ‘It’s fine, you can shoot anything.’ I didn’t take many photos of the most meaningful part of the whole shoot. I think I only took eight. Over an hour and a half it was very much as though the thing was really happening. We had that experience together and it was extremely relevant and honest and intimate. We were almost sharing the same physical space.
AND THESE WERE THE IMAGES THAT YOU MENTIONED BEFORE? Yes, it was all about expression and the energy of what was happening. We were both laying down together on our sides, facing each other.
GOING BACK TO THE PROCESS BEHIND THIS, IS THE CAMERA VERY CLOSE TO YOU THEN, AS THOUGH YOU WERE WEARING GLASSES OR..? It was right to my side. I just had it right next to me and it was a great balance. There was an hour and a half of beautiful moments. I just photographed the few times when I knew it was right. I didn’t change a single thing. I focused very quickly and snapped it and put the camera immediately behind my back until the next time.
There’s no signs on this road I chose to travel. A path without directions. A path without dead-ends. Many ways to turn, many miles ahead. Over and over new land reveals itself. I touch it and it touches me. Vividly.
Intrigued by this endless road, I’ll continue to wonder. Through the eyes of a child, holding a map for the very first time.
So, Today I would like to share some personal thoughts with you. It’s not often I share my opinion, because I believe everyone is entitled to their own. In this case I feel different about that. Not only because it’s a controversial subject, but I wanted to let you guys know where I stand on this matter. I always said that I would never, ever wanted to express myself under the image of ‘Playmate’. Personally I can’t stand the fact that women are being objectified. Or even worse... That some women put themselves in that position. We are not toys that aim to please. On the contrary… I believe we, as women are capable of creating extraordinary things: we bring life to this world, literally! That in its own way is already the purest form of art. And then we haven’t even been talking about the gracious intoxicating form of our bodies. The smooth dynamics of a female body has been an inspiration for artists thoughout history of mankind. How is it possible we as women aren’t aware of this supernatural power we possess? How is it possible that women, no matter what culture or age, have been property of… Men…? I mean, even here in Belgium, it wasn’t possible for a woman to have an independent bank account up until 1978… Lots to say about this but it’s not 1978 anymore.
So, this is my story…
Ever since I’ve been doing what I’m doing, freely expressing myself in artistic nudity, a bunch of ‘naked/erotic’ magazines reached out to me to be featured. I always declined because of their superficial, unilateral vision. For me being sexy isn’t about wearing red lipstick and a pushup bra. It’s about being your true, natural self… And not to be afraid to show this.
I never thought my story in their context would be a match. In this case, Playboy NL offered me total freedom of content when they heard I went to Thailand. For me this was an opportunity to show a different angle on nudity to a broad public.
Jasper and I shot these images during our 3-week jungle travel. Whenever we had some time in between and we were inspired by our surroundings, we just goofed off with the camera. Instinctive wandering, nothing planned out… And that exactly reflects my opinion of attraction, spontaneity, excitement, intimacy… It’s not something you play, it’s something you are.
Island Mornings. To wake up here is not a challenge, not a struggle to get out of bed. Effortless I got pulled up, feeling light as a feather. Every sound, every smell goes in crescendo. Sensations swindle my rationality. I don't overthink, I feel. I don't plan, I experience.
Every morning, I am caught by this natural Wave. Part of that everlasting ritual, I am floating, overtaken by sound and aroma, airdriven like a kyte.
You can find me there every morning, blanket draped around my shoulders like a cape, absorbing every element. Fearless as a child.
How can you desire for someone else, if you can't comprehend the need for loving yourself? In my opinion it is impossible without an intimate relationship between spirit and body. Defining yourself within your body means finding balance within sexuality as well... To explore your boundaries as a human being, it also embraces the search for your wildest fantasies. Both mentally and physically, we crave to love. Nothing to be afraid, nothing to feel ashamed.
Dare to discover your own complexity. Love starts with .. You. Every aspect of .. You.
Breaking Dawn. As the birds fly off on a morning hunting expedition, I’m slowly being pulled out of my blissful sleep.
A hypnosis by the natural elements of this local Thai village fuels my senses. Brings me to the point of ’no turning back’ to the sleeping world. Instead I’m awakening in this dazzling dreamworld, almost dancing every step of the way. Empowered by the humming energy of the Jungle landscape in front of me. I come alive.
Just a perfect morning...
In this production, Damian Karsznia and I have made it our goal to give you a glimpse of that perfect morning, and capture that experience as authentic as possible.
Sometimes the world becomes a grey mass, incomprehensibly plain, like the walls are closing in on me. I’m diving without oxigen, slowly sufficating. as if a giant jungle snake outbests me with every breath I take. I need to let this go, close myself off into my sanctuary.
Finding your colors back, it is not always an easy given. Selfreflection and vivid imagination are part of my ritual. They purify the soul of the contradiction between black and white. Where first divided in clear camps, light and dark. Now unfolded into limitless color combinations
And so the world becomes your final canvas, ready to be painted into an everchanging Masterpiece.
Who am I? A product of evolution, or a predestined creation The Lead in a bigger story, or just an insignificant pawn A biological package drifting in a chaotic existence or a subject choosing to understand, feel and love your World…
I’m aware of my core-instincts Accepted the animal that lives inside. I Nurture it, feed it, balance and love it.
My mother, I call her, the Earth itself. She is everywhere, within everything that's surrounding us. The Harmony between every natural Element.
I am drawn to you, Ocean, watch over me. Carry me on when I need comfort. Molded by your tides, guide me into your blissful Flow.
And you, Land, make me strongwilled and timeless. Sculpture my mind and body into your shaped entity. Water and Rock, salt and sand forever intertwined, A symfony of elements. Dance with me as lovers would, Kiss me as lovers should. I am Yours.
Last month, actually when I just arrived back in LA after my Palm Springs adventure, I met up with Kesler Tran. Because we are both living on the other sides of LA, we gathered at a parking lot, somewhere in Canoga Park. I figured after having surrendered the Palm Springs-heat, my body was immune now for 100+ degree temperatures. It seemed I was 100% wrong there. It was so crazy hot that when I tried standing up when Kesler arrived, the heat even made me dizzy. We said ‘Hi’ real quick and then both straight decided to run into a fried chicken place. To get some chicken but even more to get some airco. After our winner winner chicken diner (lunch actually) and a short chat, we decided to take a 3-hour drive into the desert. Kesler told me about some black-reddish grind that looked absolutely insane just before the sun would go down. He did not exaggerate at all. It was so beautiful that I even didn’t care to roll around in it. And I’m glad I did. I was superstoked when Kesler showed me the pictures afterwards. Hope you like them as much as I do!
Palm Springs… I did 3 well-focused attempts to write down my thoughts/feelings about these series... But I had to come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the exact right words to even describe 10% of this whole Palm Springs Sensation... You got me there Palm Springs… Big time! Really! So here’s what I’m doing, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking. And I believe they say quite enough… Enjoy!
I must admit, I’ve always been a storm chaser. The addiction for that magnetic pull of electricity, air bursting with oxygen. Suddenly breathing seems so different. I can feel my lungs screaming for more. Was I breathing all this time? I must have been.
We inhale, we exhale. We live. At least we think we do. I believe we’re just wined up, lick clocks... By society, and even more important, by ourselves.
Storms unwind me. They offer me clarity.
I need my storms.
That’s why, when no storm is around, I create my own dust devil. I make the wind go clockwise for a while, just till I hear myself breathing again. Till I feel enlightened...
"Men come for Mars, women come from Venus" In literature, this is just one in a million verses that describe a fundamental gender-distincition.
Guys love football, Girls love ballet and play with dolls. Again one in a billion assumptions about basically dividing our society in a male and female camp. Everybody knows them, so they must be true, right? Follow the rules, never question them...
An artificial lie if you ask me.
Even our clothes we're supposed to use to express ourselves, sometimes feel to me as if they were fabric masks, rather to shut off your personality than enforce it. Strip them off and tear them apart, and what do you get? Human bodies, the single greatest invention of all time. Nowhere to hide, nothing to hide from.Only bodies, no male our female discrimination.
I love my body, I love myself.I figured you can only start to love another if you can look yourself in the mirror every day, and truly see and understand the person that's looking right back. With your own flaws and skills, just as anyone else, and to use those things the create Beauty. Not only for yourself, but for and inspired by your loved ones.
And that’s what it’s all about right? Giving and spreading love everywhere you can. Life is to short not to.
Just a month ago, Eric called me up to do a shoot in Brussels. The city was melting due to a heatwave that was heading over Belgium. I don't know what it was but when I arrived I immediately felt a boiling atmosphere that got a hold of the people.Everybody felt sunny and hypnotized by the rythem of the summer..
When I arrived at Erics shooting location, we all felt this amazing vibe and started to shoot for 4hours in a row, without even looking at the clock. Hope you guys like the results, we know we had a lot of fun making them.