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London photographer Alva Bernadine uses visual misdirection to create a quality in his art that is foreign yet familiar. The photos featured here are from two different series, Sleep and Succubus. Bernadine describes the origins of Sleep this way, “A model told me she was having dreams about me, which would normally be a good thing, right? Only this one thought I might be a serial killer. I sat her down to talk about it.” Succubus gets it’s title from a female demon who seduces men in their sleep and the dream/nightmare that ensues. Bernadine was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work.

Do you conceive of your images before you begin shooting or do you leave some of the design to chance?

I generally think up ideas before the shoot and particularly the previous evening. I go through my sketch books to find ideas I have not executed yet or something I already tried but did not quite come off. I always go into a shoot with 3-5 ideas and begin with those. I often don’t complete them all but I know where to start. Often while I am shooting a different angle to my idea might occur to me or a completely new idea but I don’t turn up without an idea in my head waiting for the muse to take me. I have been asked where i get my ideas from so often that I made a video explaining my thought process.

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Do you feel any connection to the psychological underpinnings of early Surrealism?

One of my first influences was Rene Magritte and a little later Salvador Dali. I felt that I could not try to replicate the original surrealism because it would just appear out of date. I mixed up all my influences including surrealism, fashion, reportage and advertising photography to create my own style and since my work was not always surreal, I called it “Bernadinism,” which was the title I gave to the manifesto I wrote to clarify my thoughts about my work to myself.

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What contemporary photographers are you excited by?

I don’t follow any contemporary photographers as such but a couple of people whose work I like to see whenever I stumble across them are Sølve Sundsbø, who is continually inventive in a very classic way, and Kirsty Mitchell and her exquisitely costumed and beautifully executed fairy stories.

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What’s your next project?

At present I am doing more pictures for my Succubus series, which is manipulated female figures I first started doing long before the advent of Photoshop. A succubus is a female demon that has sex with men in their sleep. When Photoshop came along everybody thought I used it, so I thought I might as well, as it gave me more latitude.

I am also doing a project on forniphilia or human furniture which is a branch of BDSM.

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