Community, Women behind the camera

Blurring realities with Carlijn Jacobs

Carlijn Jacobs is a renowned photographer and director based in Paris, known for her distinctive flair and vibrant style. She tells unique stories through her sharp visual imagery, blending observations of mass culture with her artistic influences ranging from Surrealism to Camp. Carlijn’s creative journey began at 14, taking pictures of flowers in her garden. Over the past decade, she has worked for several magazines, including AnOther, i-D, and Dazed, and had her exhibition Sleeping Beauty shown at Foam in 2023. On top of countless fashion campaigns, Carlijn has also released an eponymous photobook. And notably photographed Beyoncé’s Renaissance album artwork.

The voice in her work feels intuitive and unusually real despite touching upon the absurd. A face peeking through a wine glass filled with goldfish and an eyeball superimposed on glossy red lips—the visual paradox in her compositions plays with the viewer’s sense of reality. Her work’s blurred lines, geometric shapes, and playful textures sit in the mind as she transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary. During our conversation, we discussed her creative process, inspirations, and methodologies as she navigates the intersection of commerce and art with remarkable finesse.

How long have you been a photographer?

I have been photographing since a very early age. I bought my first camera when I was around 14 years old. On a professional level, it’s been about ten years now.

How did you get started with photography?

I grew up in a tiny village with little to do. I began by photographing flowers in the garden and then moved on to photographing my best friend in the dresses she was making. When I attended the Art Academy in Rotterdam at 19, I started to take photography more seriously and really dived into it.

Who/what are you inspired by?

I am inspired by many things; I have an obsession with the avant-garde, the space age, geometric shapes, glass art, architecture, books, the interplay of light, colors, cinema, culture, and more. I love the work of Lauren Greenfield, Pierre Cardin, Yasuhiro Wakabayashi, Alejandro Jodorowsky, among many others.

How would you describe your work?

My work is very intuitive. It reflects the state of mind I’m in at the time of creation. Overall, it has a theatrical and eccentric nature, rich with colors and storylines. There’s a returning theme of transforming subjects.

Tell us about a unique photo of yours and how you created the creative concept for it.

Six years ago, I walked around Kyoto. It was evening, and suddenly, a taxi stopped with those lace curtains they always have. I see a white face behind the curtains, and suddenly, the door opens, and a geisha runs away quickly to her destination. It was such a special moment and the very first time I saw a geisha in real life. It went so fast that it felt like a dream. All these years later, I recreated the ‘dream’ from how it was in my mind.

How do you balance your unique, creative approach when you do more commercial projects?

I like to be closely involved with commercial projects. I try to push the conventions, making the projects reflect more of “me.” In the end, it’s all about balancing brand identity and my own style.

What is essential when you are on a photoshoot?

Music! Good vibes are everything. And preparation!

How does Capture One come into your workflow?

It’s [Capture One] such a helpful program to organize your day and structure your work. It’s an important software to play around with light and see instant results.

See more of Carlijn’s work on her Instagram and website. 


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