lou escobar captures dreamy motel scenes
The Parisian photographer is inspired by lonely drives and late-night dining across the US and France.
Photo by Lou Escobar.
For Parisian photographer Lou Escobar, photography started as a way to kill time while waiting for a work visa in the US. “With my vintage camera, I first began photographing homeless people in San Francisco, going to the CVS to develop the photos, and giving them their portraits,” she says.
Not long after this, her friend called her and asked to buy her photos for a campaign in Paris. Four years later, Escobar is focused on her photography and filmmaking full-time. “I realized after this, that everything I was doing was making sense and I had to follow this path,” she explains.
The 32-year-old photographer had the urge to travel at an early age. Growing up a “hyperactive little girl” in Saclas, a “very small town” near Paris, she first started by exploring Europe with her Spanish father and French-Algerian mother.
“I remember as a child, I always had thoughts of traveling and discovering the world,” Escobar says. "This was my only projection of me in the future.”
Now based in Paris, when speaking about her childhood, she makes a point to say that Escobar is her real last name. She calls her high school and college experience “normal” and “nothing special,” and describes Saclas as “a bit creepy”.
Many of her images were taken in both the US and France, after traveling between the two for years. But their sultry, cinematic quality is inspired by her experience of America from TV and movies while growing up.
“I always had those images in my head, creepy motel, diners, and US décor,” she says. “For me, it was so natural when I moved to the US to use this background to tell stories.”
Her work has a clear sexual element to it, depicting orgy scenes and late motel nights, but she’s less interested in exploring sexuality through photos than she is in encouraging each character to be “more powerful.” “I don't want to have limits while I'm creating my stories,” she says.
Though fairly new to photography, Escobar has already gained a steady following on her social media. Something, she says, is a place she will never show her personal life. “For me, sharing ‘selfies’ and trying to show that you have the best life is a bit like a sickness,” she says. “If you start this, it can make you crazy, and I actually am.”
In her initial comments after starting her Instagram account, she noticed people were mistaking her work as a male photographer’s and congratulating her with “you rock dude” and “great job man." Because of this, she decided to add in her bio that she is a “girl photographer.”
“It was important that people knew about my gender,” she explains. “I felt better, and it was like fighting against a cliché. I was proud to tell my followers that I’m a girl.”
Also a filmmaker, which is something she wants to explore further this year, her work is very much character-driven. She’s particular about planning the location, styling, and casting. Her favorite compliment of all time seems to be that her photos “look like a movie.”
But as soon as she’s taken the photo, “it’s over” for her. “I’m not really into them anymore,” she says. “I always think that I can do better and am thinking about my upcoming projects. Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist.”
These upcoming projects, it seems, will largely be based in Japan, a place where she says she has the same feeling she first had in the US.
“I just want to do more,” she says. “I want to keep pushing myself, exploring new ideas, traveling more and just letting people dream when they are looking at my images.”