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Audrey Marquis

10 March 2021

Despite starting out less than a year ago, Audrey Marquis has already amassed a sizable following due to her ethereal and surreal photography. We speak to her to find out what she looks for in a scene, and why houses and empty streets feature so prominently in her work.

What is your backstory?

I'm 29 years old and I am Franco-Canadian, but I live in Germany at the moment. I work as a translator, mostly translating from German into French. I studied Communication and Business back in Montreal and before that I studied music, which is also my main hobby besides photography.

How did you first start out in photography?

I always loved taking pictures, but it was always with the sole purpose of creating memories without caring about the aesthetic side. It was when I travelled to India in 2020, and saw all those wonderful sceneries, crazy colours and interesting people, that I started taking an interest in editing my pictures so that they convey the beauty I was seeing to the viewer. I also started to post those pictures on Instagram to show my family and friends what I was doing in India and at the same time to interact with photographers on the platform and get feedback on my pictures as to how I could improve.

I received advice on composition and framing, etc. and from that moment on I started to put those tips into execution when shooting (with my phone at that time). It was also at that time that I went to the Holi festival while in India, which is a paradise for photographers, and clicked for the first time photos I thought had something special about them. That's when I got the photography bug and decided to get my very first camera in May 2020. As COVID-19 lockdown had already started at that time, I learned about my camera and photography by practicing in my neighbourhood and shooting the few available subjects: houses and empty streets.

What are your sources of inspiration?

I wouldn't say I draw inspiration from anything specific, but probably from everything unconsciously, be it the things I see on TV or on the internet. But I would say the inspiration really comes from my pictures themselves. I often just shoot without anything specific in mind and start editing it and playing with colours, and the inspiration comes from the picture coming to life and seeing the potential it has.

I think the reason I love shooting in low light so much is the possibilities it offers during the editing process. I feel like there are much more colours in the night than in the day and it is that which enables a "magical" look. Indeed, in night shots, the sky can be turned pink or orange (for example), and it could still feel natural, which is rarely the case for shots taken in sunlight. Lights are also a key element in my pictures as I love the mysterious and magical touch they add, and obviously, lights will be found at night.

What subjects do you like to shoot?

I love shooting "entire scenes" rather than focussing on a specific object or person, as I feel I can create a little "world" out of it. I think it's pretty obvious by looking at my Instagram feed lately that I love featuring little original houses in those scenes as I feel they really help to give a magical touch. I also love to add a person in the frame to make the story more lively or complete. However, I really enjoyed shooting in the streets or subway stations of bigger cities when the lockdown wasn't so strict, and I will definitely get back to it once it's possible.

Are you an impulsive or planned shooter?

I would say both. Most of the time I just go explore without anything specific in mind and get inspired by the things I see. The weather also has an influence on when and what I shoot as I love doing it during snowstorms or when it's very foggy, so that cannot be planned. Sometimes, I love going back to some spots I kept in mind and shoot them again when the weather is moodier, or I realise during editing that another angle or time of the day would have worked better.

Can you take us through how you typically edit your photos?

I edit my pictures in photoshop and sometimes do final adjustments in Lightroom. A big part of the process is focussed on getting a very colourful result and creating a combination of tones that will make the scene look like it came out of a movie or transport the viewer in a fantasy world. To do so, I often use many adjustment layers and apply colour individually to different parts of the picture through layer masks. Afterwards I edit the sources of light in the picture using the same process, either amplifying or reducing it, and sometimes also adjusting their colours. I also sometimes work with overlays.

Before and after editing
Before and after editing

Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring photographers?

Practice as often as possible and try different things. Learn from the mistakes you make to get better. If you are shooting at night, try different settings so you can later see on the computer what settings were better in that situation. When I started shooting night scenes, I had never shot manual before, because I had just got my first camera, and although I had learned the theory about exposure and learned how my camera worked, it took a lot of practice to apply that seemingly simple theory to real life and I am still in the learning process. At first, you might have no idea where to start with the settings and it's normal – it's by trying and making errors that you will learn.

How has Covid-19 affected your photography?

As I started photography at the very beginning of the outbreak, it didn't affect any established "process". However, I believe it had a big impact on how my style developed. I used to love clicking people and their emotions, but as this wasn't possible anymore, I had to find beauty in non-living things and try to find a way to convey emotions through it, which was very hard at the beginning, because I wouldn't see emotions in it. That's when I started to work very hard on editing to try to make my pictures more meaningful and got me to the style I have today. However, when lockdown is over, I would definitely like to click people again and adjust my style accordingly.

What are your thoughts on Instagram as a photography platform?

I have only been active on Instagram for less than a year so it's hard for me to judge about the changes in the algorithm that I hear about, but I would say the platform is very crowded and it is hard to stand out for a photographer.

What are some of your hobbies outside of photography?

All my hobbies are and have always been about art, so I'm pretty sure floating in this artistic world permanently has an influence on what I create. Those hobbies include music, drawing, painting, making clothes, playing with graphic design, restoring old furniture, or making wooden decorations.

Thank you for speaking to us Audrey. Any final comments?

Thank you so much for your interest in my art - all the support really means a lot to me and motivates me to do better and keep creating!

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