by Natalie Liechti in New Photography on Friday 6 July 2007

Having recently hosted a successful solo exhibition, UK photographer Poppy de Villeneuve takes time to reflect on everything from murderers to roller-discos. How did the concept behind The Strangers exhibition come about? ‘It’s a project I’ve been doing for the last three years. I visited the Louisiana State Penitentiary and was struck by the place. It’s unlike anywhere else. I talked to the men held in the prison and although most were murderers or robbers, they showed me everything but. I think photography is one of the best mediums to reveal things about people and the way we are’. What initially inspired you to pick up a camera and what continues to motivate you? ‘I originally picked up a camera at Chelsea Art School. I’ve never been academic but have always had a strong sense of things visually and being dyslexic, I always struggled at school to output the mad-shuffle of ideas and thoughts in my mind. I live in New York now and that’s created another shift in ideas. At the moment New York is inspiring. I walked through Central Park yesterday and went to the roller-disco, and everyone there was being themselves, totally involved in the moment. They didn’t seem worried about what anybody else thought, they were just skating. It’s very inspiring when people are totally at ease with being themselves, whoever they may be’.