Jean and Élysée’s collaboration began when they decided to celebrate their relationship and marriage in a significant way. They’ve spent years capturing iterations of how love may arise. Their approach evinces attention to the dialogue with those they photograph. Breaking the tradition of romanticizing subjects in exotic cultures, going beyond the surface to truthfully connecting people on a meaningful, emotional level.

In the artists’ spirit, love is the active nurturing of growth. If we live kindly toward each other, humankind will be united with fewer social issues. This project value our fundamental similarities: loving-kindness happens when we clasp hands with other nations and cultures.

JÉ T’AIME, the collaborative name, is in reference to “je t’aime”, a french phrase that evokes the love Jean and Élysée have for each other, and to others. JÉ, is an amalgam of the couple’s initials. “J” is for Jean and É is for Élysée.

We asked strangers to close their eyes and imagine what they love most.

Love is the invisible forcefield that binds us all.

Love Lives Inside explores the intimacy of people imagining love. The photographs capture the inside realms of emotion when subjects turn their gaze inward to reveal a part of themselves. These portraits were made visible because they emanate from the darkness, as if they were spiritually lit from within to take the form of love for the world to see and to connect emotionally. As performers, strangers around the world joint effort to form an interwoven fabric of love.

In each frame, the person in the portrait communicates the internal depths and vast capacity for love. Yet, it is also the creative, outward manifestation of that same love. Viewers are invited to imagine and interpret the subject’s thoughts, as an observer (and receiver) looking in from the outside. This power of imagination, letting our mind wander, and creating meanings is one of the reasons this set of work has an unique atmospheric feeling and magical possibilities.

Close your eyes.
Open your heart.

The modern world is losing sight of what love is. The warmth and complexity of human interaction are being replaced with binary signals and narcissistic displays of power and wealth, making it harder for us to experience true love. Yet, simple acts of kindness bring us back to the power of love. And where there is love, there is life, creativity, and possibility. Humankind has the unique ability to cultivate kindness, to imagine a better world—a world where people can close their eyes and bring love into focus.

Eyes Closed Portrait of a Bhutanese Monk: Black and White Portrait Photography by Jean Tran and Élysée Lang
Eyes Closed Portrait of a Guajajara: Black and White Portrait Photography by Jean Tran and Élysée Lang
Eyes Closed Portrait of a Nepalese Sadhu: Black and White Portrait Photography by Jean Tran and Élysée Lang

This body of work play with a photographic problem: the illusion of photography revealing inside someone’s soul. For most, photographic seeing is believing. In the work of Jean & Élysée, they acknowledge the “gap of truth”. The visible is the surface — the interpretations made by the viewers — is different than what the subjects are actually imagining. For photography to acknowledge there’s a difference between what we are looking at and refers to, is an interesting element.

Awards
Applied Arts

Multiple Award-Winner, 2021. Canada

World Press Photo

Shortlist, 2021. Worldwide

Communication Arts

Shortlist, 2021. United States