French photographer Camille Gharbi (@camille.gharbi) started her career in architecture for some time before dropping it all to pursue her passion for photography. What was once a hobby turned into her career, pursuing personal projects and working in architectural photography. Gharbi has worked with the press and media since beginning her new career. Her motivation stems from using photography as a means to express herself. "We live in a harsh world. Through photography and the arts, we can change the way people see the world." Gharbi's inspiration comes from researching and documenting social issues and using photography as a way to express these things artistically, not just in a journalistic way.
I don't try to reflect on reality as it is, I rather try to question it.
Her vision in her work is to challenge the viewer to look at the subject of the photo in a different way in order to give different perspectives and thoughts. Her motivation and artistic style have shown themselves in her first photo book Faire Face or Facing Up. In this book, she showcases stories of domestic violence in a three-part series. Gharbi began working on this project in 2018 in order to raise awareness on this topic and to raise empathy between people. "Numbers aren't enough for reality to hit and for stories to touch you!" She used photography as a means to discuss this issue, to touch others, and reveal the severity of this issue.
Gharbi discussed each series, its inspiration, implementation, and final product. In the first series, Proofs of Love, the photos were taken in a studio with bright colors and light. The objects captured were related to case studies on domestic violence cases in 2016/2017, where unfortunately many led to homicides. Gharbi wanted to represent these photos in a non-violent way. She aimed to get people to think about the subjects to get them more involved. Also, she wanted to find a non-violent manner to share these stories, instead of adding more aggression and violence to them.
In the second series, There's No Such Thing as Monsters, Gharbi took the time to share another side of the story, the perpetrators. Gharbi spent time in jails in France where people were arrested and serving sentences for domestic violence. She took portraits of them and interviewed perpetrators of domestic abuse who were receiving therapy and trying to strive for change in themselves. Gharbi wanted to shed light on resiliency and taking a positive turn even after such horrific events. Abusers can work towards a new life and seek change just as how victims do. The goal was not to victimize the perpetrator but to simply show a new perspective that our society does not discuss. She talks about related social issues such as abusers themselves who were once victims of abuse, substance addicts, and growing up not being allowed to express their feelings in a healthy manner. Gharbi asked about their childhood, their life, and how events lead them to where they are today.
"The topic of perpetrators themselves and how to work over violence is not often discussed. In the media people think they should just go to jail and that's it, but however even though they should, they should also work on changing their habits and achieving change and a new life."
The last series of Faire Face, A Room of One's Own, were portraits of victims of abuse rooms. Gharbi took the time to visit a shelter in Paris that supports women in reaching impendence, starting a new life, and rebuilding themselves. Gharbi decided to take pictures of their rooms because someone's room tells a lot about the person, it is intimate as it's your personal space. Virginia Woolf's essay, A Room of One's Own, was the main inspiration for this series, where she used metaphors to reflect upon the social injustices of women. Each girl was asked a series of questions in relation to their photo. They shared their stories, advice for someone who also experienced the violence they did, and their dreams for the future.
Camille Gharbi and her work Faire Face have touched many lives. "I received feedback from many men saying they recognized themselves in some aspects of the series." Her work on documenting social issues in her unique artistic way allowed her to offer the world with a new perspective on domestic abuse. This expression of art is in itself an inspiration.