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James Perolls’ tale of sisterhood

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The photographer’s collaboration with illustrator Tallulah Fontaine and stylist Yeon You is a fictional story about two sisters in late-80s California, and the love, tension and grief that they share

“As a man, I’ll never be able to experience the bond that women have with one another, but I’ve always been drawn to creating stories about female characters,” says James Perolls. “Ever since I was a child, I’ve always felt closer with women than I have with men, and this comes through in most of my work.”

Sunnyside is the photographer’s first publication, a collaboration with illustrator Tallulah Fontaine and stylist Yeon You, Perolls’ close friend and colleague. Perolls is a self-taught photographer who has made his mark over the last two years through fashion commissions for big names including Vogue Italia, Gucciand New York Magazine. His first output of personal work takes on his signature warm and playful style, setting itself in late-80s California and telling the story of two sisters as they grieve the loss of their parents.

© James Perolls
© Tallulah Fontaine
© James Perolls

Interestingly, this storyline is not explained in the book, and it is only through Peroll’s moving, sun-drenched photographs, Fontaine’s gentle illustrations, and You’s epochal styling that we are given an indication of a narrative. As such, the book is more about what the imagery says about the love, tension and grief that is shared by the two characters.

© James Perolls

“It’s a perfect fit having illustrations that show the sisters’ relationship and adds elements that are linked to their thoughts and dreams,” says Perolls. “It wouldn’t have been the same had I tried to create them as photographs.”

Particularly with his fashion photography, Perolls usually shoots in anonymous outdoor spaces, divorced from any allusions to time or place. “I wanted to take my story-telling to a more intimate and familiar level by creating a narrative in a home environment,” says Perolls. “It is a story of human strength, affection and frailty.”

© Tallulah Fontaine

“Taking photos has always felt very therapeutic for me, regardless of whether it’s a personal project or commercial job,” Perolls continues, explaining that he has suffered from anxiety throughout his life. “The process of connecting with someone, gaining their trust and getting them to open up in front of the camera, to be themselves or to play a role as a character, is one of the best feelings for me.”

© James Perolls
Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.


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