Photos + Words by Marion Berrin

Interview by Kacie McGeary

4min read

My name is Marion Berrin. I think our family name used to be Berrini, because we are of Italian descent. We lost the final ‘i’ somewhere, but I have no idea when or why we like to hold on to this idea.

I grew up in the South of France, close to Marseilles. The main thing I remember about my childhood is the constant presence of light. You see, the South of France has a peculiar light. It’s bright with hard shadows. But I never realised it until I moved away. It is what I miss the most from there, apart of my mum’s food.

I was raised with one big brother who left home when I was still small. I had to deal with the loneliness of his absence, and since we lived in a small village, I was bored a lot. But I was a dreamer, and I tried to escape by building stories in my head. My curiosity saved me, really. And that same curiosity is the basic element of my work today.

I first saw my Canon 135mm at my birth (although I only remember it from the out of focus images my dad took). It’s been a part of my life ever since, and throughout my adolescence, I remember him loading film and making us pose. He later gifted it to me, but even then, I had no idea that it would become my best friend.

I went on to study English, American literature and politics at university, but the school I attended gave very few liberties of thinking. So I moved to Paris to study photography, cinema and arts at L’Ecole du Louvre. It was something I had wanted to do at 18, but couldn’t.

From there, I tried a lot of different jobs in the fields of contemporary art, photography as an archivist and photography as an agent. But I came to the conclusion that they weren’t for me, and decided to work for myself instead of promoting other people. This is what led to my first paid commission.

At first, photography was a way to mark and document things on a personal level. But it became much more. It became my therapy, my mental tai-chi practice. I tend to say I tried to conceptualise it at that point. I tested myself and shot a lot of images, but I published almost nothing. My edits were cruel. But I think that you need to try a lot of different things in order to find yourself. It is a long and very personal process with doubts, questions and even more questions. But it’s a way of looking at things in a different way.

So now, it’s not just about taking photographs. It’s about creating images and showing my vision of something. It’s about making something and testing myself. Even now, when I am busy with commissions, I try to get out of the brief. I try to shoot images like I would if there wasn’t one. It is my way of still feeling free while working for clients. It’s how I continue to discover.

The goal of my work is to evoke rather than describe. It comes from a quote by Cy Twombly. Ever since I read it, I’ve kept it in my mind. It works pretty well with my practice, and it is a bit presumptuous, but I like that. I just want to make people feel something—be it a happy emotion, a sense of peacefulness or something else.

Creating images is where I am at ease. It is my language. The underlying words of my work are my own. They are a blatant story of my life. I hope that you see them and feel at ease and quiet. I hope they evoke something within you.

Marion Berrin is a self-taught French film photographer based in Paris. She has been part of exhibitions in Portland, Maine, Hyères, Dusseldorf and Paris, and has collaborated with M le Monde, Marie Claire France and AnOther Magazine. Her work has also been published by 0fr, alongside illustrator Aleksi Cavaillez, for Bon Voyage ‘Le Bel Ennui’.

To see more of Marion’s work, click here.

Related Articles