“I’m interested in people who are not afraid to be who they are even though it may involve suffering,” Estelle Hanania tells me. “The individuals who carve themselves into a character that they didn’t necessarily anticipate being.” The French photographer has sought out unexpected and hidden stories about creative outsiders and outliers. With a practice located at the border of several territories – fashion, art, theatre, craft and documentary – her work plays with bodies, performance and perception to find a space between reality and fiction. Her images elicit wonder, care, humour and a sublime form of beauty that feels simultaneously human and from another realm.
Hanania grew up with her twin sister in Noisy-Le-Sac, an eastern suburb of Paris. She invested her free time in various creative practices, from drawing to modelling clay, finding joy in every endeavour. “Everything creative was important to my life,’ she explains. Yet, even as a teen, she was desperate to break free and feed her imagination. “There was a specific atmosphere in the suburbs — a different vibe. I felt like I was on the outskirts of real life – a waiting room.” This longing to escape and discover continues to be the lifeblood of her professional practice.