Sonia Sieff has earned a reputation as one of the most gifted photographers in the world. It was no small achievement. The daughter of two photographers, including the legendary portrait artist Jeanloup Sieff, she has experienced the blessing and the curse of following in the footsteps of a famous parent. “I don’t know if I would have been a photographer if my parents were not in the business,” she tells Maxim. “But the only thing I know is that photography is a real passion and something I want to do every day.”
Her current release, Les Françaises, a photo book of elegant nudes, was the result of three years of work, often in collaboration with Sieff's personal friends, many of whom were models for her shoots. "For this book, I decided to take pictures of my friends," Sieff explains. "I surrounded myself with women who are very inspiring, who I think are pretty but are not pretty in a model-like way. Some are models, but they are interesting; they have relief. By relief, I mean they have a story to tell; they are independent women, free women. I was very inspired by their words, who they were, what they had achieved."
Sieff's photography spans art and fashion, advertising, portraits, and, of course, nudes. Many photographers specialize in just one of these fields, but Sieff believes the lines between categories are naturally blurred. "I work in art, fashion, news," the 38-year-old Parisian says. "But there's a link between those three or four photography areas. It's always linked to human beings. Many great photographers, we do not go in only one direction. If you're good with portraiture, you're able to do good fashion. If you like fashion, you like bodies. If you like bodies, you like nudes. Everything is really linked to each other."
Sieff is also a champion of female photographers, a healthier industry for the models, and the shift toward authenticity in sensual art. "You can sometimes tell if things are real or not. The girls are not retouched [in Les Françaises]. That was important to me. We didn't retouch the bodies at all." Already a creative giant in the industry, Sieff is now working to reform it in a way that celebrates the women in front of the camera, instead of exploiting them. "Things are changing," she says. "We're not supposed to play the same game. We're here to help make [the models] feel good."