This Artist Is Changing Our Perceptions Of Traditional Portraiture And The Youthful Ego With Her Paper Techniques

We all want to preserve some part of ourselves, to capture a moment, an emotion or just ourselves, in our youth, in all our glory. UK photographer and artist, Alma Haser, plays with this concept to expand our perception on traditional portrait photography.


Beautiful portraits of people, all dressed in soft pastels or playful patterned outfits, are transformed – they bloom, literally – by the simple technique of paper folding. Futuristic and distorted at first glance perhaps, on closer inspection there is an other-worldly beauty to the photos that create a sense of serenity, of accepted melancholy and thought-provoking preservation.

Alma’s portraiture has been nominated for numerous award and it isn’t hard to see why. She manipulates the mundane and with it, the ego, and she intertwines the man-made with the natural. Like humans, nature bears wildly differing spawn, the harsh bristles of cacti, the soft scents of a rose and the pure greenery of a fern. We see all these in Alma’s art work, growing out of the subject’s head, or even just replacing it, filling in rosy cheeks with rosy flowerbeds or creating bizarre, yet believable, head-covering hats. “I am not a conventional photographer”, she explained when we caught up with her, “sometimes I would say I am more of an artist, because the photograph seems like the least important element at times”


Her portraits are striking, they are meticulous and thoughtful – they are not hard on the eye unless you choose them to be – they are not taxing on the mind unless you desire to examine the multi-faceted meaning behind them. They are soft yet strong and muted yet bright – a perfect example of two skills, paper craft and photography, coming together to create something totally new.

We spoke to Alma, who’s beautiful new pop-up book, Cosmic Surgery Book, features sci-fi futuristic cosmetic surgery twists and is available to buy now.


The Plus: What inspired the Eureka Effect series?
Alma Haser:
The project first came about when art director and friend Gemma Fletcher came to me wanting to collaborate on a project using collage.
In the back of our minds the series would always be about the process of brainstorming. That was our starting point.
Thoughts and ideas come and go from our minds. We forget things and often remember again when we enter a dream like state. In The Eureka Effect we explore this idea; the here and there of a brainstorming mind. I used flowers and foliage to represent the new growth of an idea, which seeps its way out of the subjects as if they where just coming across a ‘Eureka moment’.


TP: How did you get into paper folding?
I do normally use folding but have started to branch out. This series is actually produced by multiple images, which have cut and collaged together using a technique of re-photographing, and scanning. I always want to see how I can adapt the photographs I take, weather that is painting on them, folding, crumpling, ripping, cutting I have tried it all. It is my form of Photoshop. I prefer to use my hands and do most things off screen.

TP: Which is your favourite image from the series? Why?
I think it would have to be the one of the girl in then red with the red flower on top. It’s probably the least complicated but works so well.


TP: Can you talk us through your use of colour in the series?
I think I went for a muted tone because to me this series is about the limbo of our minds, and that seems to be a very light and bright space (in my mind ha.)
So it made sense for the colours to be blown out and slightly muted.

TP: Who are the people who feature in the images?
Both models are friends of friends. I have a good connection of people I go to for projects I want to do, and I tend to look for people who have an interesting look. Emily was so perfect, pail and angelic, I had actually photographed her for my Cosmic Surgery series and then thought she’d be perfect for this. Waleed was a friend of a friend I had photographed for the Twins project. He just had a really unusual look, and very good fashion sense.

TP: Sum up the series in three words.
The in-between moments.


TP: How do you want people to feel when viewing the series?
I’m not sure, I think it is quite a fun series and would hopeful be enjoyed by everyone, but I’m not sure how I want them to feel when viewing them. I tend to make work for myself, so I think if I enjoy them someone else out there must too.

TP: What’s next for you?
Well I have actually just arrived back to my hometown in the Black Forest. I am staying here for 3 weeks and plan to start a new project on Masks, but we will see, this place is quite magical and I may just get lost in the woods.