Although she’s been living in the U.S. since the tender age of 16, French-born photographer Virginie Carolina imbues her work with a distinctly Gallic sense of passion. “I photograph with my heart,” says Virginie, who comes to The Day with more than 20 years of photography experience.
Growing up near the small town of Coulommiers—home, she admits, to a delicious but stinky cheese of the same name—Virginie traces her interest in visual documentation to her father, an avid photographer who bought the young artist her first camera, and a school trip to England when she was 12. Rather than run around with her friends going shopping, the nascent artist spent the whole time shooting the way light filtered through cathedral architecture. “I was amazed that I was able to not only capture the way the buildings looked,” she remembers, “but how I felt when I was in them.”
Virginie’s life took an entirely different course when she went to live in Northern California as a high school exchange student and decided to stay, studying art history and photography at UC Berkeley. Relocating to New York to pursue graduate work at the International Center for Photography, she studied with renowned portrait photographer Amy Arbus before deciding to leave academia for first-hand work experience.
After assisting commercial and fine art photographers like Rodney Smith and Howard Schatz for a few years, Virginie broke into the wedding industry through an assignment with Julie Skarratt. “It was like a flashbulb went off,” she remembers. “Bringing families together, photographing people during one of the most important days of their life—it just makes my heart sing.”
Ironically, it was through Virginie’s wedding work that she reconnected over the Internet with a childhood friend from Coulommiers named Nicolas, a painter and physical education expert. They now live in Brooklyn with their daughter, Inès.
In addition to shooting for The Day, Virginie runs her own commercial studio with a diverse range of clients, including companies like Apple, Citibank and BMW and publications like Elle (France), New York and Saveur.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.... I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”