Duration: I’ve been a freelance photographer since 2013, but it’s only really felt like a full-time job for the past four years. I suffered a motorcycle accident in 2016 that left me bedridden and out of commission for six months. After that, I thought of quitting photography altogether, but I couldn’t shake the urge to tell stories in a visual way; I wrote an article on my experience for elite daily. Since that moment, my career has made more sense.
Location: I split my time between New York City and Paris.
Education: BA degrees in economics and political science from The American University of Paris (AUP); MA in international affairs from AUP, Paris, France.
Career path: As a kid, I wanted to be a chef, so I spent hours in the kitchen watching my mom and grandmother cook while taking mental notes. I’ve lived in a variety of different places and got used to moving around from an early age, so it comes as no surprise that I shoot food and travel now!
After graduating from university, I thought I’d enter the finance world and put my economics degree to use. I quickly realized that the field just wasn’t for me. Thinking about my other degree in political science, I ended up doing a master’s in international affairs at AUP, where I took a class with Paris CNN senior correspondent Jim Bitterman. This opened me up to the world of video, and I spent most of my time learning how to shoot and edit. I led the university photography club and was heavily involved in student media projects where I produced publications, magazines and was editor of the sports section of our newspaper at my university.
I wrote my thesis on Auroville, an alternative community in the south of India where I spent a lot of time looking into their innovative economic system based on spirituality and sustainability. I also took photos and produced videos on the side whenever I had the chance. I realized that photography was my true passion and I wanted to make a living from that.
After wrapping up my thesis, I helped my mother produce a PDF of our family recipes. After working on it for a year and meeting a publisher at a book fair, this family project turned into my first cookbook with Hachette in 2013. We actually re-shot the book for a second edition in 2016! This was my biggest professional gig at the time, and when I got my paycheck, I decided to buy a one-way ticket to Thailand. After traveling in South East Asia for six months—taking in the food, culture and sights—I became interested in travel and food photography. Now, I primarily focus on creating food, travel and lifestyle images.
Artistic influences: I love immersing myself in every country I visit. It’s the best way to get a hold of the collective consciousness of a place and begin to understand its culture and history. I’ve admired a lot of photographers that take a stand for social issues like Yann Arthus-Bertrand and the amazing photojournalist Reza Deghati. In travel and food photography, I really like the work of the talented duo Crookes & Jackson, Christopher Testani, Stephen DeVries and Adrian Mueller, Sean Tucker for street photography and Chris Orwig for his incredible portrait work.
Favorite projects: The Indian cookbooks I shot with my mother’s recipes were really big points in my career. They got me started and I was extremely proud to keep the family recipes alive. Other major projects included shooting a campaign a few years ago in Southeast Asia for JW Marriott where we produced short video chef portraits in some incredible locations. That was a blast to discover new cities and see how each chef was influenced by her or his specific surroundings!
In 2018, I spent three months rediscovering my Basque roots—I was born and raised in the southwest of France in Biarritz, which is part of the Basque Country—while shooting a cookbook. I produced it, finding chefs, farmers and producers during the summer season—which is by far the most hectic periods of the year there—to participate. I was proud of the final result, given the fact that I was thrown into the project headfirst, last minute and on my own! While I got very little sleep over those three months, I met some incredibly talented and passionate individuals who have inspired me to take my craft to the next level and with whom I’ve kept a close bond with since.
One of the most surreal projects I’ve taken part in so far was a 51-day cruise from Rome to Shanghai covering the inaugural voyage of a cruise ship. While onboard, I produced weekly video and photo content for the company’s social media and marketing. That project was an incredible lesson in how to get things done in nonoptimal situations and under tight deadlines—also, the ship can get a little rocky at times!
I’m currently developing my YouTube channel that focuses on the process rather than on the final result. I strive to be more intentional and take my time conceptualizing shoots and new projects. Currently, I am planning a new photo and video series taking an anthropological look at food from around the world, departing from just the sheer pleasure of eating and cooking. I want to tell the history of particular locations through their rapport to food and what similar foods mean to certain cultures and how they’ve evolved differently across history. One thing I’m fascinated about is the exchange between different cultures over time, how some cultures brought certain ingredients to other parts of the world—Peruvians bringing tomatoes to Italy, or the Portuguese bringing chilies to India.
Approach: A lot of photographers have a certain sensitivity and penchant for telling stories. I’m no different. As a kid, I was reserved and quiet, so I was a natural observer in many ways. I love taking the “hero shot” in my commissioned travel work—be it landscape, food or people that represent a certain place. But I also love taking in those little moments of transition, the “in-between moments” that we don’t necessarily think of, but end up giving so much depth, texture and energy to a trip. These moments are usually full of nostalgia and charged with emotion, and sometimes can be random but incredibly eye catching. Focusing on these moments has enabled me to create more layers to my work over the years.
Philosophy: Most people think that being a photographer means being a technical wizard. Although technical knowledge definitely comes in handy, I feel that a photographer’s main goal is to tell stories that convey particular emotions to the viewer.
Earlier in my career, I spent my time chasing stories, which got me into that motorcycle accident. More recently, I’ve found that being intentional in what I shoot and why I shoot it a particular way ultimately creates a deeper connection with my subject matter. The idea is to bring intentionality in my life and work, doing projects I believe in with people who have similar life values.
Anything else? I love everything about Formula One racing: it’s fast, it’s the pinnacle of motorsports and its international setting blends so many cultures together at each event. It’s also at the forefront of developing greener energy for road vehicles of today and tomorrow. I would love to shoot Formula One and follow the whole circus along the season while still being able to work on travel projects along the way, telling stories from the road.
Puxan is represented by Wonderful Machine.