Armony Dailly is a young, self-taught photographer from the Parisian suburbs in France. Her work explores what it’s like to be female, and the friendships that thrive throughout those early years of womanhood. When I first stumbled upon Armony’s work, I was instantly drawn to the authenticity of the intimacy within each shot, and the sense of fun and curiosity. Her images often bear witness to personal memories and moments in the midst of being made, and it’s such a delicate skill to be able to capture those without it being intrusive or contrived. I was thrilled to be able to chat to Armony about her work and how she wishes to use it to empower women.
Could you tell me a bit about your background, and what sparked your interest in photography?
I recently turned 24 years old, and I live in the Paris suburbs in France. I’m a self-taught photographer and I also study cinema at university. When I think about it, photography has always been a very important and obvious part of my life. I grew up with a mom who always had a camera in her hands to shoot or film my sisters and I. So for me, photography is a very familiar and reassuring tool. When I grew up I bought a DSLR, but I wasn’t satisfied with my photos. Then I discovered the work of film photographers such as Nan Goldin, Petra Collins, Ashley Armitage and Olivia Bee, and I thought to myself: “I need to have a film camera.” Since then my passion has grown bigger, like an addiction.
Your work explores women in social and intimate situations such as in your series ‘Girlfriends are the new power couple’ and ‘Coming of Age’. Are these your friends? And how do you approach photographing them in this way?
My work focuses on redefining my vision of the contemporary ideologies of femininity, the intimacy of women’s groups and the female body. I think it’s very important to show the daily intimate situations of a girl’s/woman’s life to break the fantasies that exist about it, because still nowadays women are criticised unfairly, and censored simply because it has to conform to society’s standards.
I’m used to taking photos of my girlfriends because I know them very well, and with them there’s a spontaneity and a really good aura. I don’t judge them or transform them. I try to observe them as much as possible and be very discreet. So when someone does something I like I just take a photo very quickly. Or other times when the light is incredibly beautiful for example, I ask them to pose or just to stay focused on what they’re doing, so I can take my time. Both series’ you mentioned are real visual love letters to my friends, they’re like my sisters and my soulmates.
Do you have an image that is of particular importance to you, and can you tell me the story behind it?
I do have a lot of images that are very important to me, because all of them are a very important memory and of an atmosphere I liked in my life, but I think this one (Girls drinking at a fountain) is one of my favourites. This was one of the first photos I took with my film camera. My friends and I were walking in the streets of Paris. This night was very simple but so dreamy. They were thirsty and wanted to drink at the same time. After receiving the development of my photos I discovered the beautiful accident with the light behind, like they came from outer space.
You also shoot self-portraits. What do you enjoy about the process of creating these, or do you prefer to photograph other people?
I don’t really feel comfortable with taking selfies, putting my phone in front of my face and being serious, but I like shooting self-portraits. Even though it’s hard with a film camera, I try as much as possible to shoot some; it’s like an autopsy. I try to find myself sincerely. I started when I wondered why I was so rude about my body. I couldn’t live with being so complex and toxic about what I looked like. So I started taking photos of my stretch marks, my menstruation, my flesh and rolls. All the time it was a relief and a step forward to accept me. But I prefer much more to photograph other people because it’s something I enjoy most – it’s more spontaneous and technically simpler and exciting!
What are your goals for your work as you move forward? Do you have any projects that you’re working on or plan to work on?
One of my photos will be exhibited at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece for two weeks in February. I would like to try a contest to enter a big photo school, but it’s very hard to succeed. I also would like to extend my choices of models, and photograph girls I don’t know or know briefly to work more on the diversity of women’s bodies. And I hope soon to make a little ‘zine dedicated to the photos I took of my girlfriends alongside some poems I wrote.