Laurent Elie Badessi is a French photographer and artist based in New York City. Badessi frequently uses symbolism, mythology, and historical references in his work. His photographs often addresses subtle and relevant questions on social, political and cultural issues, such as the relationship with nudity, religion, the environment, war or the fragility of life.
Badessi was first interested in painting and filmmaking, but at the age of fifteen, he chose photography as his chief form of artistic expression. While studying language and communication sciences with a focus on journalism and advertising at the Université des Lettres in Avignon, he experimented with photography. He spent hours taking photos of people and started to draw attention to his work by winning prestigious photography contests such as the Guy Laroche Drakkar Prize.
Badessi became fascinated with the interaction that develops between the photographer and the sitter during a photo session, as well as the psychological impact of the photography medium on the sitter. In order to deepen his study of these two observations, he decided to move to Paris in the mid-1980s and enrolled in a class of photography at the Université de Paris VIII. For his M.A. thesis, he created a project entitled “Ethnological Fashion Photography” whose focus was to study the impact of photography on a relatively unexplored terrain, using clothing as the main communication tool with his subjects. Using the method of “La photographie négociées” (Negotiated Photography) introduced to him by photographer/teacher Michel Séméniako, Badessi, spent several months over the course of two years (1987–1988), in Niger, Africa, taking photographs and studying the impact of the medium on isolated tribes, that had never or very rarely been exposed to photography. He was able to finance this project thanks to the prominent “Bourse de l’aventure” prize that he won (1988), which was funded by several sponsors including Fuji Color, VSD magazine, and France Inter.
Soon, Badessi’s well-polished and unique images started to be seen frequently in photography magazines and exhibitions. It did not take long before he was hired to create images for advertising high-end fashion brands and perfumes. Thanks to these commercial assignments, Badessi has a steady income at an early age and was able to pursue his artistic quest and further explore the photography medium around the world.
To expend his career, Badessi moved to the United States in the early 1990s. Dividing his time between commercial and personal work, he began focusing on artistic nudes, which he had already experimented with during his early stages behind the camera. Since nude work requires the deepest degree of trust between the photographer and the sitter, he felt that this phase was necessary to further evaluate the psychological impact of photography on people. In addition to his primary focus, Badessi was also interested in the relationship that builds between the photographer and the model during a nude photo-session.
See more at Laurent Badessi’s official website.
All images © Laurent Elie Badessi.