Once described as the "Willy Wonka of science," Nelly Ben Hayoun is a force of nature. Whether she's creating dark matter in her kitchen sink, or organizing NASA employees into an orchestra, she doesn't let anything get in her way.
To mark her We Can Do It Campaign, Nelly introduced us to a set of creatives who reflect her can-do attitude.
After a three-month trip to the US, photographer Laura Ben Hayoun experienced her hometown, Paris, in a whole new way. In the US she learned how to deal with the unfamiliarity of unknown places, and wanted to rediscover her own city in the same way.
One night, she decided to take her camera and photograph the people at the Boulevard de Clichy, a street that had been around the corner from where she has lived for years.
“This boulevard is at the border of the sex shops and the girls of Pigalle and the fancy borough Montmartre. A lot of tourists pass through it, while regulars occupy the benches. I liked this ‘interzone’; the boulevard is a crossing through invisible territories.”
“As a girl at night, I felt uncomfortable with all the whispers coming out from the benches and the fights happening all the time.” Although the boulevard scared her at first, after visiting it more often, Laura started to crave it in a way, wondering what crazy story she would find next.
Even though the residents of the boulevard are similar during the day, for Laura the night was the time to photograph it. “The night fascinates me, it makes bodies act differently,” she explains. “You hear voices but you don’t really understand what you see.”
In France, people don’t usually like having their picture taken without permission, but in some way, armed with her big reflex camera and cobra flash, Laura managed to make the Boulevard her territory. “I was there so often, some regulars had heard of me. Some of them even asked to have their photo taken; they were proud to be photographed.”