“Walk in the Beauty!” (“Marche dans la beauté”) is an amorous correspondence between the two photographers Flore-Aël Surun and Pierre-Yves Brunaud.
A member of the Tendance Floue collective, Flore-Aël Surun has long worked in engaged documentary photography and focused on peace activists around the world. As for Pierre-Yves Brunaud, whose work is represented by the cooperative Picturetank, he focuses on space, territories and “inhabited architecture.”
The first installment of this three-part conversation with the authors looks at the ideas and motivations behind this joint project, while the following two parts will focus on each photographer’s specific approach and path.
Q: Could you each describe your way of working?
Flore-Aël Surun (FAS): Pierre-Yves explores, elaborates a direction. He works over time. I am much more spontaneous, quick and instinctive.

I work in documentary photography, the human, whereas Pierre-Yves’ approach is more oriented towards space, territory, urbanism. We felt, looking at both series successively, that you can clearly see the different distances in our gazes, which reflect our respective backgrounds.

What I find incredible in our photographic story is that, despite our radically different approaches and personal paths, we have found a point of convergence and a common language in our relationship to nature, the body and sensuality.
Q: How did “Walk in the Beauty!” come about?
FAS: This joint project was not at all premeditated. We both share a certain taste for nature, landscapes, tranquility. We are both very contemplative.
One day, we had planned to go rambling in the mountains, and quite naturally, two photographers out on a walk take pictures! There are incredible landscapes in Nepal, but I very rarely take pictures of landscapes empty of people, so I asked Pierre-Yves to pose for me, in silhouette. Then it was my turn to enter his pictures.
There are a lot of male photographers who gaze at – or who have gazed at – women, whereas a female photographer looking at the male body is rarer. Similarly, generally when we see female intimacy, we rarely see the corresponding male intimacy. So I found it very beautiful to be able to create this exchange, this play of mirrors.
Q: How did this work develop over time?
Pierre-Yves Brunaud (PYB): As Flore-Aël has said, this work was born, and is still developing today, naturally. It has grown with our relationship and at times offers us moments of learning and mutual discovery. We are learning to let each other act, to trust one another in our alternate roles of photographer and model. The richness of these exchanges and questioning has indeed nourished the development of this joint work.
FAS: We don’t see this project as being finished at all. We are in the process of writing a photographic story together. It’s a love story: we find ourselves in places that correspond to us both and where we feel at one. We are seeking a kind of osmosis with nature and, to me, the fact of being naked amidst the elements and in proximity with trees is almost a ritual.
Q: What “meaning” might be attributed to this choice of nudity in the photos?
PYB: We try as much as possible to root ourselves in the landscape, to be at one with nature, to blend into it. It’s a powerful experience to try to enter into resonance with the natural elements, the rounded shape of a rock, the smell of bark, the dampness of the earth, or the deafening sound of a waterfall are all sensations that inspire a feeling, a position, or a movement.
Inversely, when you go round to the other side of the lens, something else happens in the construction of the shot, in the gaze you focus on the person you love and who you want to show in a favorable light, with this ever-present feeling of the power that nature exerts on our perceptions.
Q: We can indeed sense what you are describing, this particular attention to matter, to nature’s different textures, to the light filtering through the branches, or reflected on stone … We thus sense the attempt to bring out and make us feel these very strong elements around you … And we wonder where you are exactly?
FAS: I mentioned Nepal earlier because that’s where the first shots were taken. We didn’t feel it necessary to say any more about the places we worked in, however. The idea for us is that the viewer can identify, can project him/herself into them. That is how we might manage to elicit an emotion in people.
PYB: Our respective frames make the places as such unreal, removing them from their physical identities to concentrate on nature itself, on the man and woman’s relationship in interaction with its elements. If we gave too much of a description, we would risk undermining the poetic side we want to bring out in this work, whereas we precisely want people to be able to look at these pictures as a more universal experience.
The feedback we’ve received has also encouraged us in the latest shots to try to work more on the action or the movement of the person photographed in the frame and less on the pose. That allows us to tell the start of a story and for viewers to appropriate this more easily to read the picture and to imagine, based on their own experiences.
Thank you for your time, Flore-Aël and Pierre-Yves!
– Leica Internet Team
See more of Flore-Aël  and Pierre-Yves work. Read the interview in French here.