Luma R. Brieuc is a professional photographer and henna-artist based in Montreal, Quebec. For the past decade, she has been capturing the unexpected with her camera and her keen eye and adorning bodies with her beautiful henna.

How did you get into photography?
artist photoI started to shoot photography about the same time as I was getting into henna, around the end of 2000. An old friend who was into photography introduced me to it. Photography plays two major roles for me. The first one is to show my henna artwork in an innovative way that is true to my personal vision. The other one is to enable me to explore my creativity in a way that no other medium does. For me, shooting photos is total rush! There's nothing like being in the middle of the action, sensing that something is about to happen and seizing the essence of that fleeting moment.

What was your first experience with the art of henna?
It was also back in 2000. I was browsing through a second hand bookstore and came upon a book on traditional henna art filled with finely detailed henna patterns. When I saw all those beautiful designs I was instantly hooked and I knew I just had to learn this artform. So I started researching and experimenting with henna and very quickly I discovered I had a natural talent for it. After a while, I wanted to go further than just doing henna on hands and feet like it is done traditionally. I started creating bigger, but still very intricate design that were meant to cover larger parts of the body. To me it was a much more exciting way of creating with henna.

What kind of art were you doing before photography & henna?
I spent almost 10 years studying voice, piano and guitar. At the time, I was thinking of pursuing a musical career as a singer-songwriter. I've always had a passion for music, but my love/hate relationship to it often left me feeling restless and unfulfilled. It's not until I started to explore my artistic expression through henna and photography which are much more visual, that I started to feel creatively whole and more in tune (no pun intended!) with who I was as an artist.

Your photos have such a quality of intimacy about them. What is the experience and relationship like between you and your models?
When I begin to create a henna design on a model, it's always a special experience because for the art of henna to come to life it necessarily needs the body, particularly the skin as its canvas. So there is an immediate intimacy that is created by the art form itself and even though I don't always know the person who is posing for me very well, a mutual connection and trust is quickly established. I also chose carefully who will wear which henna design that I want to create and photograph. The model has to be a "good match" for my henna.

What are your greatest inspirations as a photographer and henna-artist?
When it comes to photography, I love the work of the old masters such as Boubat, Cartier-Bresson, Helen Levitt, Imogen Cunningham, just to name a few. I greatly admire the capacity they had to remain open through their mind, their heart and their spirit to the daily life that surrounded them. As for henna, I get inspired by so many things; a piece of haute couture clothing, a design on a funky t-shirt, the interlaced patterns on a wrought iron gate, etc. The key is to remain open to the creative flow.

What are the values you seek to deepen and share in your work?
Intention. Having a clear intention always gives us a clear direction. It helps us to focus and leads to the path that needs to be taken in order to create what we intended in the first place.
Openness. Living with openness often feels like a risky and scary thing, but not doing so keeps us from being truly authentic. It keeps at bay inspiration, light, love. It cuts us off from the subtleties that often bring us a new perspective and keep us moving forward to discover a new place within ourselves.