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Work / Photography

Estelle Hanania bridges the gap between fashion and documentary photography

“I started to become interested in cameras when I was in college,” says Paris-born photographer Estelle Hanania. “My friends and I would go into town, put on special outfits and photograph ourselves. Then we’d develop and print our black and white images.”

This energy which can often only be achieved through photographing real people with genuine relationships can still be seen today in Estelle’s sophisticated photography. She approaches projects with an open mind, creating both personal and commercial projects, marrying the two so that they coexist in a coherent way. This accomplished style has seen her work featured in the likes of Vogue, Another Magazine, POP, The New York Times and Buffalo Zine.

It was Estelle’s series for Void that initially caught our attention. Void, launched last week (23 November) by 1Granary is aimed at enabling young fashion brands to live side-by-side with major fashion houses. For Void London, seven stylists and seven photographers interpreted the work of seven fashion designers.

Estelle was commissioned by 1Granary’s founder and editor, Olya Kuryshchuk who gave her complete creative freedom to work with young designer, Stefan Cooke. Estelle fabricated a narrative that revolves around babysitting to draw the attention away from the clothes, incorporating them into the story in a much more subtle way. Children with blue faces wearing Stefan’s designs, styled by Gary David Moore, stare directly into the lens creating a series that is altogether captivating.

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Estelle Hanania, Gary David Moore and Stefan Cooke for Void, 1Granary

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Estelle Hanania, Gary David Moore and Stefan Cooke for Void, 1Granary

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Estelle Hanania, Gary David Moore and Stefan Cooke for Void, 1Granary

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Estelle Hanania, Gary David Moore and Stefan Cooke for Void, 1Granary

A deeper delve into Estelle’s work on her personal website doesn’t disappoint. The included series have the same considered quality as her story for Void. Her work has the slick finish we’ve come to expect from a lot of fashion photography, which coupled with the hint of narrative that Estelle always includes creates intrigue and depth. A particular highlight is her personal project, Speak to me.

Speak to me documents Seth, a young American ventriloquist who Estelle met at a ventriloquists convention in the US (which she was attending with her good friend, choreographer Gisele Vienne). Seth attends the convention every year, having received his first dummy for his 11th birthday, and Estelle found herself “so moved by his story and his personality that I got kind of obsessed with the idea of coming back to meet him and his mother again. Two years later I came back to the States and photographed him in his hometown.” The project was published in Memoire Universelle but is still in progress. While on her visit to Seth’s home, Estelle also took videos of him which she is hoping to turn into a documentary.

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Estelle Hanania, Benoit Béthume: Speak to me

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Estelle Hanania, Benoit Béthume: Speak to me

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Estelle Hanania, Benoit Béthume: Speak to me

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Estelle Hanania, Benoit Béthume: Speak to me

In her series, Dilone’s Family, which was shot for M le Monde magazine, Estelle and stylist Anna Schiffel photographed model Dilone and her gigantic Dominican family in their hometown in Long Island. “Dione was on the verge of becoming a supermodel,” she recalls, “and she was so welcoming, so nice to us, even inviting us into her house during one of her sister’s birthdays.”

Jacquemes Land is another project that bridges the gap between a fashion editorial and a documentary photography project. The shoot was commissioned by Pop Magazine and Estelle was approached by stylist Charlotte Collet to capture the story. The pair visited Charlotte’s hometown in the south of France where Charlotte organised a cast of children and teenagers from the village. They mixed the Jacquemes collection, les santons de Provence, and some traditional dress from the area. “From there, we just wandered around the village,” she explains, allowing the children to dictate the direction of the story.

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Estelle Hanania, Anna Schiffel: Dilon’s Family

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Estelle Hanania, Anna Schiffel: Dilon’s Family

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Estelle Hanania, Anna Schiffel: Dilon’s Family

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Estelle Hanania, Charlotte Collet: Jacquemes Land

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Estelle Hanania, Charlotte Collet: Jacquemes Land

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Estelle Hanania, Charlotte Collet: Jacquemes Land