| | | WHY I BECAME A PHOTOGRAPHER | | |
My maman, Margit Levy, was an amazing photographer. She was a most wonderful, loving, full of life, and exceptionally beautiful woman. There’s nothing that she loved more (well apart from champagne and Chateau Margaux and of course her three children) than to pick up her camera and photograph people.
This year it’ll be 25 years since the tragic accident which took her away from me, my brothers and her grandchildren. She never met my husband David nor was she there when I became a maman too. Not a day goes by without me thinking of her. I miss her terribly and I know I always will.
But life works in mysterious ways. Seemingly out of the blue, after a fifteen year career in human rights with the United Nations, I decided to become a photographer too…
1. | Photographer on a film set |
Maman was one of the first French female photographers on a film set.
I LOVE these photos she took in 1957 on the set of the film ‘Chaque Jour a son Secret’ with Jean Marais and Francoise Fabian where she worked with film set photographer Roger Corbeau.
And these, taken in 1960 on the film set of ‘Marche ou Creve’ directed by Georges Lautner with Bernard Blier and Juliette Mayniel.
2. | Paris |
Maman was quintessentially French and she loved loved loved Paris!
In her early twenties she fell in love with my father, Clive Morris, got married and moved to Darlington, where I was born a few years later. I can’t quite imagine my glamorous parisian maman living in Darlington I have to say! My parents divorced when I was very young and we then moved back to Paris where I lived until I was 18.
Growing up, it was always my middle brother, Paul, who was into photography. He would spend hours developing photos in the lab he had helped set up. She bought me my first proper camera when I was 18 and I’ve been taking photos ever since. I used to love going through the contact sheets (remember those?) whenever she’d done a photo shoot. She always managed to get her clients to relax in front of her camera (often with the help of champagne!) and the results were always spectacular (and very French!).
She also loved capturing street life in Paris, especially when she lived in Montmartre.
3. | Mother & daughter |
I LOVED my maman and I have missed her every single day of these last 25 years. But I am thankful to have had such a wonderful maman, who was so full of love and made me into who I am today.
She was so proud (I’m sure all mums are!), especially when I started to work for the United Nations in human rights. She was always a good listener. I remember one of the last phone calls I had with her. I was working for the UN in Rwanda and had just been promoted. I was overwhelmed and didn’t think I was good enough for the job. She listened (I think….) but at the end of the conversation she just asked ‘have you seen the gorillas yet???’. Hmm, I’m not sure she really had been listening… But guess what? When I returned to Rwanda after the accident, the first thing I did was go and see the gorillas (and they were absolutely awesome!).
4. | From Photos Margit to me |
Just when I’d almost given up hope on the man-front, I met my husband David, fell in love and moved back to England (I was working for the UN in New York at the time). And then, the strangest thing happened. Less than 48 hours after meeting David, three things came to me when I was on my journey back to NY. 1. I was going to marry David; 2. I was coming home to England and 3. I was going to be a photographer. It felt like three pieces of a puzzle coming together.
I had been taking photos ever since I got my first camera but I had never thought of doing it professionally. Never. It just came to me on that day. I left the UN (oh, and moved to England and married David!) and then qualified with the British Institute of Professional Photography.
I have now been a professional photographer for fifteen years and I’ve loved every minute of it. I would like to think that maman is looking over my shoulder whenever I am behind my camera and that she is proud of the photos I capture.
Merci Maman. Je t’aime.