Artist Interview - Sandrine Dulermo & Michael Labica

Feature Story

Sandrine Dulermo and Michael Labica sparked off their creative collaboration at a photo lab in 2001 — and they haven’t looked back since. Dulermo, aged only 13 and with photography “running through her veins”, used to skip school to shoot her little brothers with her Zenit camera. At 18, her first perfume campaign was followed by her first solo exhibition. Labica, a former student at Louis-Lumière in Paris, was first enticed by cinema, later becoming entrenched as a creative in numerous advertising agencies.

The duo favours the “phantasm”, which a camera can summon under full light or shadows. For more than 10 years they have been experimenting to reach a certain perspective, to be able to show a deep appreciation and concern for what is or could be beautiful. They strive to make each feeling palpable, playing pranks on each other by sabotaging props to avoid “mundane positions”. They practise photography as craftsmen, but within a research laboratory, challenging the usual perspectives, continually experimenting and finding new techniques and skills.

London, United Kingdom 

Does working with a partner inspire a spirit of rivalry, cooperation — or both?

Working together has always been an association of an identical spiritual direction as far as our aspirations and inspirations go. Sometimes we do not share the same ideas on the way of producing an image; but we have never been in outright opposition to each other. However, that does not mean that the atmosphere between us or in the studio is always tranquil!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working alongside a partner?

The most important advantage of working with a partner who has the same way of thinking is the possibility of developing an idea more deeply. The right partnership lowers stress levels and gives the needed confidence to launch a creative project, which can involve anything from sketching, finding references, building story-boards, booking stylists, make-up, lighting, design… and the list goes on.

How closely do you work with your partner? Do you bounce every idea off him/her or wait for them to give you a verdict on a “finished” product?

Sometimes one of us comes up with an entire project and together we make it happen. We usually make independent suggestions and work together on the strongest one.

Do you have frequent disagreements and if so how are they resolved? Do you just press on regardless of criticism or do you normally end up with a compromise?

Sharing feelings or ideas on things like lighting or sets can sometimes result in fights — but for good reasons: for they usually showcase our passion for photography. We do of course often end up with compromises due to mutual respect.