"I am the guy that flies around the world photographing the rich, beautiful and famous people" With those words photographer Perou introduced himself at the beginning of each episode of "Dirty, Sexy things" (you can still catch it on Channel 4 OD if you missed it) and those were the words that first came to my mind when the people from Levi’s told me about their Curve ID events involving a photo shoot with Perou and a chance to interview him. After a few seconds of meeting him, I could have extended that definition to much more: Perou is also a rather approachable and easy to talk to guy from Newick, Sussex, who owns a farm where he lives with his wife and kids and has a genuine interest in people. What makes him such a talented photographer is his ability to bring all that into iconic photographs.
“You have to try on the jeans and then I’ll take a photo of you or two… if you want” he says with a smile knowing that no one in their right mind will refuse a chance to get a photo taken by his expert eye. But how was it for him, the idea of working with normal people, when his day by day glamorous endeavours are full of models and celebrities?
"I was a bit scared at the beginning of the idea of doing public photo shoots but the photos we already took in Italy look amazing and it’s been so far a wonderful experience. Yes I am used to working with professional models, but these Levi’s jeans make girls look great and girls that look great feel sexy and therefore look beautiful which makes it so easy for me. To be honest the jeans have helped me a lot in this process. My wife never used to wear jeans but she got a pair of Curve ID and now she wears them all the time… she even wears them to bed! which make things a bit complicated for me, but she looks amazing."
How did you get involved with this campaign and what attracted you most to the project?
"I think this project and I were really meant for each other. I am interested in real people and I love this concept of jeans that can make women feel sexy and comfortable with the way they look… it is a democratized appeal and it’s great. The idea is to make women look fantastic and make them realise they don’t need to be celebrities or models to feel good with themselves. I usually get asked on interviews who I would like to photograph, and I always say "people". Each person makes the experience."
Tell me about your project of photographing homeless kids.
"The whole idea comes from talking to homeless people and finding out how they feel invisible, so I’m planning to make them visible. I want to photograph them as whole people, part of society: in the same way as I might photograph a celebrity or an actor for a magazine"
After being part in several TV shows (Make me a Supermodel; Dirty, Sexy things) and directing videos and commercials, which of your jobs do you find yourself more comfortable with?
"Definitely photographing. Directing is something I do more because I have to, but doing photos is what I enjoy the most"
What makes a Perou photograph?
"I always say I’m more interested in the content than anything else: function over form. What I bring into my photographs is beauty but it is internal more than external. I’ve worked with incredibly attractive models who were standing in front of me and I couldn’t see them as being as beautiful as the normal people that usually don’t stand in front of a camera. Even during these photo shoots for Levi’s, a lot of people have told me they were afraid to be photographed in jeans but afterwards they felt great and I could see that. I’m simply taking a photograph of how beautiful they feel"
Last but not least, do you have a Sketchbook and what’s on it?
"I do have a Sketchbook. It’s a Moleskine I take everywhere and where I sketch all my ideas for photo shoots. I usually show my clients what I drew and everybody looks at it like “what the hell is that?” I am actually terrible at drawing but that’s why I take photos, because I can’t draw”
Find out more about Perou’s iconic photographs here: http://www.perou.co.uk/
Words: Mariana Moyano Menta