Anne Laure Camilleri is a Paris-based photographer and journalist whose special interests include art, cultural preservation, sustainable livelihoods and traditional crafts in rural communities. As a Selvedge contributor, Anne combines her interests into features that are intricate and culturally nuanced.
Selvedge magazine celebrates the art of fine textiles and acknowledges their significance as a part of everyone’s story in every context, from the Industrial Revolution to the computer age.
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1. How did you first get into photography & writing as careers, particularly in the realm of textiles?
I have been doing features about traditional crafts for many years, with the idea of capturing traditional processes for various handicrafts. My first glimpse into handmade textiles happened during two immersive travels in Laos. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the traditional designs and thought Lao textiles were quite intriguing. I wanted to know how they were made and more importantly, what they meant to the Lao culture.
When I began to work as a photojournalist, I wanted to merge my passion for textiles with photography. The angles of my features have often been about the ways raw, natural fibers are handspun, woven and dyed to become fine and sophisticated textiles in different parts of the world. It is my way of exploring and understanding cultures better, by getting to meet artisans and designers in France and overseas.
2. What is the most important thing you have learnt over the course of your career?
To keep an open mind, be daring, flexible, adapt to the conditions. Try to be invisible and find unusual angles first as a photographer then as a writer.
3. What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?
Each feature is like a fresh start. I can rely on my experience, but a new story means new people and different conditions. It’s my job to fit in, plan ahead of time, often from a long distance which makes things more challenging. Once on site, I don’t like to be pushy with the people who welcome me in their studios, workshops, or manufactures, so I’ve learned to adapt to their work rhythm and not get frustrated, yet to get what I need for the story. In addition, carrying heavy gear all day long can be physically tough.
As a contributor for Selvedge Magazine, I’m mostly interviewing most people with zoom calls, meaning I don’t meet people in person and don’t see nor feel the textiles. It makes it more difficult to write the story, but I adapt!
4. When you’re not taking photos or writing, what do you like to do in your free time?
I read, see an exhibition or a movie. The books I read are often in continuation of the features I did, when I feel I want to explore the subject further for my own personal knowledge.
5. Do you have a particular favourite issue of Selvedge?
I have many favorites, as I am both a contributor and a fan of Selvedge magazine. I loved working on the Abaca fiber article for the #108 issue and on the Bartsi Textiles of Ethiopia for the #100 issue. Recently, I enjoyed writing an exhibition review about the Elsa Schiaparelli exhibit in Paris, for the next issue of Selvedge.
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Thank you Anne for your thoughtful insight into the world of textiles. It is fascinating to get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes planning you do to accommodate others in your work, particularly in your efforts to be invisible.