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A Treat for the Imagination: Thibault Delhom’s Photographic Images

By Jenni Miller

Paris-based artist Thibault Delhom puts all of his digital tools to imaginative use—from his camera, a Canon 5D Mark II, to Adobe Photoshop CC, which he uses to retouch and compose his wondrous images. Simultaneously timeless and completely modern, Delhom’s photographic creations defy easy categorization, and that’s just how he likes it.

“Though my work is not devoid of meaning, I’m not trying to transmit any message in particular,” he says. “I prefer to leave some part to the imagination of the observer.”

Delhom’s haunting series Asphyxie (left) showcases models painted in smeared white paint, wearing great gauzy creations reminiscent of ribcages, while the series False Freedom transforms its subject into a lonely astronaut.

TECHNOLOGY FRONT AND CENTER

Digitally manipulating photographs is second nature to Delhom. “Technology is at the heart of my creative process,” he says. “Photoshop allows me to get my images closest to the way I want them. I’m part of the digital generation, which considers photographs more like images. However, when I shoot, I do optimize the setup and studio lighting, and make adjustments in the camera, in order to avoid unnecessary editing being needed during post-production.”

Delhom also thrives on creative collaboration with his models (often encouraging them to bring their own clothing and props for inspiration), makeup artists, stylists, designers, and other artists. “Muriel Nisse created the masks in Apoptose, a recent series I did for Adobe Stock,” he says, “and her assistant and makeup artist Caroline Boyer also worked on the series.” He also credits stylist Tara Ziegfelt, “a marvelous stylist who has helped me a lot in finding and collaborating with [designers] like Geoffrey Mingot and Jackie Tadéoni.”

Images from Delhom’s recent series Apoptose are available on Adobe Stock, where Delhom is a premium contributor.

Additionally, Thibault collaborates with assistants and photographers Antoine Bedos on lighting and Fred Barlet on set design. As a self-professed digital native, he also scopes out prospective collaborative talent and fellow artists on various online networks.

A SHIFT TOWARD PHOTOGRAPHY

As a teenager, Delhom really enjoyed drawing, and that led him to study graphic design—he says he has “always been oriented toward visual and graphic constructions.” This course of study led him to internships at agencies, where, he says, he learned even more than he learned at school; however, he wasn’t always inspired by the agencies’ focus on advertising.

Images from Delhom’s Nescius series

Being around photographers led Delhom to pick up a camera. He explains, “It was after several internships in retouching and photo studios that I started practicing photography myself.” When he decided that he wanted to purse photography more seriously, he realized that, first, he “needed to learn”—so he enrolled in a photography school. And although photography has become a passion, it has not eclipsed all other interests.

“Photography became a passion progressively over time,” he says. “I have periods of varying lengths of time during which I may favor another practice, such as music…. I’ve always felt the need to try different media that can complement one another; that helps me not get tired of one particular thing. But it’s true that I most often return to photography. That’s where I feel most comfortable for the moment.”

Delhom began composing music in 2014, and several of his 2017 musical creations accompany photos from his Nescius series.

A SPECTRUM OF INFLUENCES

The artist credits a wide variety of experiences and media as inspiration, from Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to the French science-fiction favorite Ravage (Ashes, Ashes) by René Barjavel. He also cites cinema as an influence, such as classics like Metropolis by Fritz Lang and 12 Angry Men by Sidney Lumet, and the dreamy Leos Carax arthouse favorite Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on the Bridge). Like these imaginative and occasionally confrontational books and movies, Delhom’s work is meant to make audiences think—even to make them slightly uncomfortable. Delhom notes, “My work has been described as ‘not made to please,’ but as sincere—spontaneous and thoughtful at the same time, and existing in a world outside of time, where curves serve as language.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean Delhom isn’t in demand—far from it. In addition to his work for Adobe Stock, agencies, galleries, and individual clients, he’s participated in European exhibitions and has published work in several magazines, as well as in the collection Design Origin: France, published by Victionary and available around the world.

See more of Delhom’s work on his portfolio site, on Behance, and on Adobe Stock.