Parisian photographer Laurent Benaïm is not someone who sees his camera as a paintbrush depicting pretty pictures and more so a means to bottling an emotion. “I have no criteria for aesthetic selection, only the expression of human desire interests me,” he once opined.
This capture of emotion, in this case, human desire, is something that he carries over into the production of his images too. His works are beautifully developed using the Victorian printing process of gum dichromate. Often using multiple layers, the process captures light in a painterly fashion. The light-sensitive dichromates in the photography process itself end up giving the images a living quality themselves.
This naturalistic process is key to Benaïm’s overall artistic aim. “I’ve always been fascinated by sex, the diversity of practices, the will and perseverance of people to realize their fantasies,” Benaïm explains. “These moments of pleasure captivate me in all their forms: the beautiful, the ugly. I have no criteria for aesthetic selection, only the expression of human desire interests me.”
His approach. therefore, brings a fitting naturalistic sense to transgressive sides of eroticism. The images, despite being behind the norm, are not rendered gaudy or shocking, but simply expressive renditions of the human condition and the whole spectrum it stretches over.
In order to express this spectrum, Benaïm insists that his models run the show. He invites amateurs into his studio and leaves it up to them to display their own desires, while he snaps the uncommon scenes that unfurl thereafter. He has been doing this in his Montreuil studio since 1999, and now the masses flock to him.
The very best of these shoots have not been rendered in their beautiful gum dichromate brilliance in the Taschen book simply titled Laurent Benaïm. Compiled and edited by Dian Hanson, this book offers up the finest collection of Benaïm’s work to date, filled with insight, history, and, of course, the erotic works themselves.
You can find out more about the book and purchase a copy by clicking here.