Interview: Henrik Purienne

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Henrik Purienne has turned what most can only count as a holiday or guilt-ridden sick day into an enviable career. Mirage, the magazine he founded, featuring shoots by Sasha Eisenman, Jason Lee Perry and Jonathan Leder, is devoted to dewy-skinned, leggy, blonde, tanned girls and not much else.  It invites readers into a summer fantasy, free from insects, overwrought mums and slogan-vested reprobates. At a glance, the magazine could be snubbed for being dated or in bad taste – it’s marketed as “swimwear and jetset hedonism”, after all – but it has authenticity, emotion and undeniable class. “My images are just an extension of my world,” Henrik says.

This summer, he has released PurienneThe book is a collection of his favourite images from the past four years spent in Paris and South Africa. Most were taken whilst lounging around with his model mates but some were taken while shooting for American Apparel, presumably quite similar experiences. Paper Journal has an exclusive copy of Purienne to give away courtesy of Prestel Publishing, scroll down for more details. We spoke to the man of few words about his new book and more.

What made you decide to make the book, Henrik?

I like books.

How does it differ to Mirage?

I guess its more personal. Some images are a little more trashy or real, rather than ‘idealistic’.

When did you first start taking photographs?

I must have been about five or six years old. I had a rich aunt with a fancy flat little Kodak camera. I would steal it from her handbag and shoot my friends while she was having tea with my mom.

How much of your decision to become a photographer was driven by the opportunity to leer at pretty girls?

It never really came to mind. Still…

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You’re pretty good at making girls looking sexy without trying. What do you know about girls that they don’t know about themselves?

I know who they really are.

What makes a woman sexy?

Knowing who she is, or not caring who she wants to be.

What do you find the biggest turn off?

Insecurity masked as confidence, and blind ambition.

What is the difference between perving and appreciating?

Appreciating is the result of being in a position where you don’t have to perv.

How do you draw the line between sexy and contrived, particularly with your commercial work?

I pretend I’m just shooting it for my own amusement.

What do you say to killjoys who think your work shines a nostalgic light on the objectification of women?

Everything is subjective.

Do you think people take photography too seriously?

People take most things too seriously. We are just bags of flesh and bone in space.

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We have an exclusive copy of Purienne to giveaway to one lucky Paper Journal reader, courtesy of Prestel Publishing. Head over to our Facebook page for the competition details!