Lewis Brillet is a 27 year-old freelance photographer from Lymington, a town in the South West of England, currently based in Paris. Also working as a part-time chef, his project Homebound explores the notion of home, what it represents to him and to his family.
Can you give us some background information about how you got into photography?
I was exposed to a mixture of art and photography growing up, as my dad is an art dealer/collector. I would look through different catalogues and books whilst also visiting a lot of exhibitions. I was curious in documenting anything around me, not surprisingly my family and environment being some of my earliest subjects. It was only until much later on that I started to think more critically about what I was shooting and how I wanted to form more developed projects that would have something to communicate.
Cinema has had an on-going influence on me as a photographer. Films such as Dark Days (Marc Singer) and the Jaques Tati’s films may not be a direct influence on my work stylistically, but the breadth of humility, honesty and intimacy the characters and stories carry continue to impact me.
Introduce us to your series Homebound, what does home represent to you? Was this subject a way of building stronger mental foundations to compose your own definition?
It’s one of the key questions that I asked myself throughout the whole process. I still don’t have a clear answer to what home means to me. I created Homebound to reform some sense of home for myself.
“Documenting what was happening around me at the time was a way for me to cope with the reality of what had happened”.
In the past going home usually invoked a sort of refuge, but the instability of my mental health that ensued after losing Tuan, has deeply affected this feeling of refuge.
I feel as though on our journey to formulate memories in our new surroundings, we would constantly be impelled to scrutinise the associations of this place, making it harder to advance forward without regret and pain. Homebound explores my family’s experiences, at a time where critical questions emerged more than ever, one of them being, what does home represent to you?
Your series is tinged with strong emotional feelings, what role did photography play in your mental rebuilding?
Documenting what was happening around me at the time was a way for me to cope with the reality of what had happened. Photography became a form of escape, while at the same time forced me to confront things. As I mentioned before we each had a way of trying to cope with the influx of grief of which we had never experienced. Photography and writing gradually allowed me to open up to myself at first, and then gradually as a means express to others what I was having difficulty with communicating verbally.
How did you create the project, did it come naturally or did you consciously begin to document your story?
I didn’t set out to create a project in this way, but as things developed I decided to share more of our story with others. I felt it important for me to overcome the apprehension I felt in sharing such personal experiences. Furthermore it allowed me to feel some kind of progress in my life, even when things seemed as though they were going in circles. In the beginning making photographs was a personal activity I would catch myself doing somewhat automatically. As I began to collect images over time and I was in more of a stable mind frame, I started to form a clearer idea of what I felt I wanted to show to the viewer.
Can you tell us a bit about this place and the characters that your photographs portray?
It was something I was cautious of throughout the project; the apprehension that came from documenting my family members during a period of self-reflection and solemnity was a hard decision to make. Bringing out the complexities and personalities of each individual solely through visual representation is a daunting concept, especially when trying to translate the significance of precise moments or emotion. I tried to focus on the unique relationship I have with each of them and aimed to show that connection through the portraits I made of them. I also tried to incorporate their responses to the environment; experiencing such a monumental event happen in this place raised further questions into our ideas of home.
After taking a step back on Homebound, what did it bring to you today? How did it impact your family?
Personally, I would say the fact of having something to focus on and develop throughout the difficult times has had a residual impact on me and continues to help me relay my emotions. Our sense of home is constantly tested yet we try to maintain the idea that it can become a solid base and healthy environment for us to grow together in. I have realised that despite the pain and regret that I may attribute to this place; it remains a point of contact where my family have chosen to live and where we can reunite. On the other hand, I can’t say I have reached any important resolution in the process of making this work, as I still have a long way to go to really help myself.
What are your current projects? Are you working on a specific body of work?
I have recently started a project about the area in which I live in now, Saint-Ouen, located in the suburbs of Paris. I’m interested in how these places surrounding Paris have been under huge development in recent years. These changes seem to be happening at such a rapid pace I thought it would be a shame for me not to document my surroundings both from the perspective of an outsider and the eyes of a new local. This project is still very much in its early days so I’d love to put more time into it. Otherwise I have been assisting photographers more in Paris, and shooting more in fashion.
Enjoy Lewis’ work on his website.