Zeitgeist: Clémentine Schneidermann

Each year the CR editorial team pick a number of photographers who have had a breakthrough year for our Zeitgeist series. Here, Clémentine Schneidermann’s captivating work walks the line between fashion photography and social documentary

The streets of Paris are lined with visual ­inspiration. For centuries, the city has served as muse for a wealth of seminal artists, filmmakers and photographers, and it continues to attract camera-wielding tourists vying to capture its enigmatic charm. Yet Paris-born photographer Clémentine Schneidermann found her calling several hundred miles away, on the other side of the Channel, in a quiet pocket of South Wales.

In 2015, while working on her PhD at the University of South Wales in Newport, Schneidermann was commissioned to photograph communities living in the area. Working with stylist and creative director Charlotte James, who would go on to be a repeat collaborator, the pair boldly defied preconceived notions of the Valleys, an area of the country that has struggled to shake off its reputation as the heartland of post-industrial melancholy.

The fruits of their labour came in the form of It’s Called Ffasiwn, a captivating series that beautifully straddles fashion and documentary photography. Casting aside stereo­typical images of soot and sorrow, Schneidermann and James took the opportunity to reframe the narrative, and brought the local children on board to help.