Spirit and Sensibilities- Formento +Formento

BJ and Richeille Formento are the husband-wife of photographers who met a decade ago. Richeille styles and directs, while BJ lights and photographs. Together they have an enthralling ability to absorb the spirit of a time and place. Exuding an eerie sensuality combined with a narrative cinematic sensibility, the ambiguous nature of the characters and scenarios remind us of David Lynch and Hopper-esque landscapes.

Luxury Splash of Art: Both of you have been known to be a powerful couple of art photographers. What made you decide to work together?

Formento +Formento: It was in January 2005 when all the planets aligned for us. Richeille booked me to shoot a few campaigns for her company while she was in Miami. We instantly connected, and recognised we must have made a pact in a previous lifetime to meet up once more! Within 3 weeks, I packed up my Brooklyn apartment and moved to London. Within 3 months we were married. The rest, as they say, is history.

LSA: Two different personalities became one spirit of the time and place. How did this start? How did it progress over time?

F+F: In 2006 we moved back to New York City; London was so romantic and charming but for me, NYC was where we were to start our commercial company “eye candy images”. Ironically, in 2008, the great depression forced us to put all our energy into personal work. We acquired a 1969 Airstream RV, and a Land Rover, and drove cross-country for 2 years. From this body of work titled “Circumstance: America down on bruised knees” our art career blossomed. Funny how life works out sometimes.

LSA: Your photography presents the past but remains modern. We can observe – darkness, loneliness, sensuality, expression, and emotions… but the main character is a woman. What is the story behind this and why?

F+F: Girl-centric? Honestly, now we just find the male model to be too boring, no offence to species, but we just feel the woman has more complexity to express the aforementioned.

LSA: Style of your work. What makes you unique and differentiates you from others?

F+F: I always tell young artists at our workshops: Show me the mystery, show me what the image feels (not what it looks like). Our work evokes an open-ended story, we invite the viewer to project their baggage if you will. Art is Ambiguity.

LSA: We notice that your artwork has a desaturated colour. Why did you choose that kind of photography?

F+F: It just feels right, the act of photographing is the music but the work in the “darkroom”, postproduction, is the orchestra. We are just homesick for other times and places. Nostalgic for the beautiful styling and the vernacular. 

LSA: Travel – both of you have visited many countries. What is your favourite place and how has it impacted your work?

F+F: Japan is our spiritual place. If you have ever been there, then you know why. There is no other country on this planet like Japan.

LSA: Where does the inspiration come from to create all collections? Which one was the best–loved?

F+F: Inspiration comes from life’s challenges, their ups, and downs. You mentioned “darkness, loneliness, sensuality, expression, emotions”. These are things everybody experiences in their lifetime; a lot come from the darkness. We are so grateful that we can live a creative life. Our best project is the one we are currently working on!

LSA: Which photoshoot was the most difficult and why?

F+F: They all have their challenges. But She is Cuba, was probably the most difficult, because of communism and all the red tape that comes along with that. We were held at customs for over 12 hours, and tailed by secret police the whole time we were there. There was an all-out APB put on us for shooting a nude short film at an abandoned theatre where Hemingway used to perform. And we had to hide the film in places where the sun doesn’t shine!

LSA: Can you tell us something that you didn’t have a chance to say?

F+F: “May God deny you peace but give glory”.

LSA: What are your plans?

F+F: Currently, we are on the road living out of an RV after a decade! And for the first time, Richeille is in front of the lens. It only took 17 years to convince her that she has always been the muse! www.formento2.com

Interview By Filip Adamczewski

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