Photographing Flowers: Jacques Bourboulon

(Last Updated On May 25, 2022)

by C. Madaio

Jacques Bourboulon was born in 1946 in Vautorte (Northwestern), France. Had he not narrowly escaped death when he was 12, the world would not have seen his stunning landscape and glamour pictures because it was his near-death experience that led him to a photographic career earning him accolades and enormous satisfaction. He points to a scar on his head and explains, in heavy French-accented English, how an accident he had when he was 12 caused him to slip into a three-month coma. It was a miracle he survived as his doctors said that 99 percent of people with such head injuries usually die or become a vegetable.

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 8)

Although photography was of greater interest to Bourboulon, after graduating from school he decided to travel to New York and earn a living for a while playing the organ in the neighborhood church. However, upon returning to France in 1967, he returned to his first love, photography (although he continues to stay interested in music to this day). As he’d stated:

When I was 19 or 20, I decided that I couldn’t make a career in music. At about that time I saw a picture ‘The Apple and the Peas’ taken by Sam Haskins with a Pentax. It was a very memorable picture and I promptly went out to buy my first camera. …. For the first ten years I was very poor. I spent every penny I had on films, products and chemicals to produce photos.

…and from a 2010 Interview:

Without any knowledge of photography, he simply reads the instruction manual. “I’ve never taken a course, never been an assistant. But when one begins to immerse oneself in the photo world, one must be prepared to die for it. It’s a passion which can cost dearly; and it’s necessary to keep on doing it and doing it.”

Bourboulon’s big break came when he was given the opportunity to try fashion photography. His “eye” was so good it was featured in leading French fashion magazines like Vogue. That also earned him the chance to work for renowned couturiers (specialized fashion designers) such as Dior, Feraud and Carven.

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 56)

After several years, he found this work too restrictive and sometime around 1974 began doing erotic/nude photography with young women and girls. This subject was, as always, his first love, an avocation that began during his teens with him taking photos of classmates. With respect to leaving fashion photography, he stated an interview with Rebel (circa 2004/2005), “…Fashion was a world too closed-up, too ‘codified’ for me. I needed space to dedicate (myself) to erotic photography”.

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 6)

He’s had numerous models, but one of his earliest and most famous was Eva Ionesco¹ – daughter of Irina Ionesco (who’s had several portfolios of Eva published herself). Eva, as photographed by Jacques Bourboulon, has been published in a number of books and magazine pictorials. The more significant of these (with or without Eva) were: A Portfolio of Eva (Ionesco) published in 1981—Eva is approximately 14 in this portfolio; Coquines, published in 1982; Attitudes, published in 1984; 17 by Stevenson, published in 1985; and Mélodies, published in 1987.

Although Eva Ionesco was the most well-known of his models, she wasn’t the only one—a list that includes Alicia, Jutta, Valerie, Lea, Vera, Carita, Maria, Suzanna, etc.

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 12)

Jacques Bourboulon always preferred non-professional models; as he himself describes in an interview with Zoom on what he looks for in a model:

As far as the young girls, my affinity for them is how I choose them. It is also possible that the act of working with young girls lets me express myself more easily. First, I must say that I detest [professional] models, not as women but because it’s their profession. There’s nothing of naturalness, of freshness; they have a way of expressing themselves, of moving about, without any freshness whatsoever. I watch myself that I don’t push the girls I work with to become like that. …

…[I select] only those girls who are from school, who are hired, and then whom return to school. I work with all these girls, not only one time, but for years. I know them, I know their parents, they receive me, it’s a continual contact. The first that I’d discovered; it was 7 years ago. She was 12 years old, 19 now. She’s continued to come see me at Ibiza, not forcibly to take photos; there was never any ambiguity.

With respect to continuing photo sessions: “I explain to them what I do, I show them the photos. They are at times astonished, but two months after they’ve received the photos, I write them, and when they re-see them, everything becomes simpler.”

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 58)

Most appropriately, he also states about his erotic photography: “I enjoy it. I love it and it [helps] cultivate happiness,” he says. “For me I photograph flowers and I photograph girls. I photograph girls like I photograph flowers because they are both beautiful.”

And, quoting from an interview in another magazine, “He prefers young girls he finds by chance on a voyage, a night out, or crossing the street.”

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 10)

As far as technique is concerned, he uses (from another interview) primarily:
“…a Pentax,” (later a Contax RTS) an 85mm lens, and Kodachrome 25 (later Agfachrome RS)…. 5 months a year in Ibiza, in an old farm of the 13th century, lost (hidden) in the back-country that he has rents and has lovingly restored (almost stone by stone) …. Ibiza, which he loves profoundly because of climate, the superb lighting, and the possibility of taking different photos. He passes almost twelve months of the year there—the sea and the mountains in sight, the ease of access (next to Paris), and it’s not too expensive!

Bourboulon took most of his glamour photography during this period (the next 12 years) in Ibiza (Spain); which became his natural studio.

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 5)

In 1980 he published his first book, Des Corps Naturels. He has since published another 20 books (6 in Japan) of which 400,000 copies have been sold worldwide. For the next 30+ years, he also produced calendars, (Pentax 1987, BASF 1988, 1992, etc), postcards, posters, illustrations, photos for publicity and over 160 exhibitions around the world.

Around 1985, having received hundreds of letters from amateur photographers familiar with his work through his publications, exhibitions and books, Bourboulon decided to dedicate part of his time to the public with a passion for photography. For the big international photographic shows, he organizes conferences, workshops, diaporamas and exhibitions in Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland, Cyprus, Cologne, Brussels, Stockholm, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona etc. His public appeal draws crowds and the photographic magazines regularly publish his work. These workshops continue to this day.

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 9)

In the late ’80s, Bourboulon, preoccupied more and more with perfection, turned toward landscapes. As he stated in a 1996 interview in Chasseur d’Images (French photo magazine):

“I didn’t choose to become a landscape photographer; it is the landscapes themselves that drew me in. In fact, I feel now the same emotions towards nature that give me the same feelings as in my past career. Three years have passed in which I’ve traveled through the world looking for unique scenics…on foot, in a vehicle, on small roads, under the rain, sun or under the last rays of light” … New style, new habits, JB has discovered his new subject: “Contrary to the woman, where one can repeat the same poses indefinitely in the same place, nature never repeats itself. … The magic instants only last for a few a seconds.”

However, he continued to stay involved with glamour/erotic photography. At the turn of the century much of his new and prior glamour/erotic photography was published on a well-known erotic website known as mosteroticteens or MET. He also had his own website from 2003–2008 (remnants of which can be found here).

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 57)

Nowadays, Bourboulon has continues to receive acclaim for his photography of young women/girls and landscape photography. However, he’s had his detractors both then and now, and as the hysteria (and legal pressure) continues to grow regarding nude photography of teenage girls, the detractors become louder and more obtrusive.

In answer to the question of publishing books beyond the existing 24, he has no other plans but to inspire others to look at the world differently more. He states that he had spent about five years on research before the publication of each book. For the time being he is pretty contented with life on the lecture circuit and doing his own personal photographic research.

Jacques Bourboulon- From Mélodies (page 3)

What about inspiring others to take up photography seriously? Jacques says it is not at all easy. There is no tried and tested formula. You have to,

Follow your passion. And you must be ready to die for your passion. You must be prepared not to sleep for six days for your passion. And you cannot be an artist if you cannot dream or be passionate. -Benard Quek

Many thanks go out to the people who contributed to this article: The artist’s agent who provided the background materials; the two French readers who transcribed the hard-copy materials; Mr. Madaio for translating and then composing this article; and whoever it was who scanned the Mélodies images saving me the trouble. Without their help, this post would certainly have remained unpublished for a while.

Because this artist’s age range lies mostly outside the purview of this site, images posted in this article come exclusively from Mélodies which features the youngest girls from his portfolio. -Ron

Selected Photo credits of Jacques Bourboulon:
Zoom (French photo magazine) published Jan 1976 (Issue 34)
• Oct 1976 – Playboy (Italian Ed.) – Classe del 1965 (the Class of 1965) – a major pictorial of Eva Ionesco. At 11 years old, she is the youngest to ever appear in Playboy (Italian Edition only)
Zoom (French photo magazine) published September 1979 (Issue 64) – Images des Petites Filles (Images of Little Girls) – including Eva
• 1980 – His first photo book, Des Corps Naturels, (Natural Bodies) is published in France by Filipacchi. It included sonnets by Serge Gainsbourg -noted French singer, songwriter, poet, painter, writer, etc.
• 1980 – Conte des Fées (Tale of the Fairies), a lower quality book of photos by Bourboulon is published in Japan
• 1981 – Portfolio of Eva (Ionesco). She’s approximately 14 in this portfolio
Coquines – Photobook published in 1982
Photo Reporter Features & Interviews – Nov 1982 (Issue 49) & Nov 1984 (Issue 73)
Attitudes – Photobook published in 1984
17 – by Stevenson – Photobook published in 1985 (a few photos of Eva)
Mélodies – Photobook published in 1987
• 1994 – Jacques Bourboulon photo book
• 1996 – Photografier le nu (Photograhing the Nude)
• 1996 – PhotoArgus – Interview and feature
• 2004/2005 – Rebel magazine feature and interview

¹ Eva Ionesco herself has been the subject of numerous articles and a 2015 book, Eva, written by her current husband, Simon Liberati. In the book, written entirely from Liberati’s observations and point of few, but with a few 2nd-hand quotations from Eva, her tumultuous childhood as a nude child model from the age of 5 and “loose” lifestyle is portrayed. How her youthful lifestyle has led to her current persona is also described. Liberati focuses mainly on Eva’s relationship with her mother, Irina Ionesco, upon whom both he and Eva have heaped a considerable amount of scorn for her profiteering from her daughter. Jacques Bourboulon is only briefly described in this book as one of the “nude photographers”, but no insight is given in this book on her relationship with photographers other than her mother.

35 thoughts on “Photographing Flowers: Jacques Bourboulon

  1. How can someone say LS studios is art? Ls is disgusting because they portrait little girls as little whores using their poverty, that is pure evil. Bunch of morons in the comment section. Clearly they are pedophiles. Someone is trying to close your site by persuading you to post article about LS studio. Dont do it. Its a trap. There is no site like yours anywhere it will be disaster to lose it. Be careful.

    • Thank you but I think I made my position abundantly clear. We are used to dealing with treacherous ground but in the interest of academic inquiry, it is necessary to act with prudence (not to be confused with prudery). -Ron

  2. I personally don’t feel you should be bracketing your work here in any way with the LS studio photos/videos.lets be honest in our comments,having seen plenty of ls vids/pics a good percentage of it cant be described as art.its child pornography sorry for being blunt,but there poses are many wide open legs,on all fours showing the vagina and bottom hole,many naked ,and girls I’d say were age,10 to 15,the clothes when worn were often stockings,thongs,small panties,and the videos had definitely interaction between 2 girls,there can be no doubt both these types were made not for art but as sexual photos,I’m sure if you was able to see yourself you would understand what I mean,they bear no relation to the beautiful images on here,anyone who wishes to comment please do,I’m happy to reply in person if you would prefer,not sure if I’m allowed to put email on here,I’m sure someone will tell me,,thank you for an interesting and beautiful site ,joe

    • I agree for the most part, but granted, I have not viewed the material in question. No doubt we would never review such materials on this site, but I cannot control what readers might want to discuss. I feel there does need to be a debate about how legitimate artists who happen to photograph nude and partially-nude children, sometimes with an erotic or sensual attitude get lumped together with material which is clearly meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Bourboulon, Sally Mann and many excellent Japanese artists are cases in point. That is why I have allowed the discussion but, rest assured, we in no way will assist anyone interested in tracking down this kind of material.
      I also believe there are some interesting sociological aspects of the fact of this material even exists and what this says about the human psyche. But I have yet to find anyone wanting to discuss this in any meaningful depth. Thank you for your comment, -Ron

      • Sir,thank you Ron for the quick response,I feel much relieved by your assurances re ls material ,and now realise at least here there is adult debate on wide range topics,thank you again ,joe

      • What do you think are the sociological aspects and their connection to the existence of such materials?Is the connection of multiple factors such as : East European attitude, collapse of communism, economic standard that allowed the creation of such materials?

        • That’s a big question so I can only answer in a nutshell. Believe it or not, political trends do not affect the production of these materials too much. There is something fundamentally appealing which will cause people to try to capture these kinds of images. It’s kind of like prohibition in the US, it may seem like a good idea, but human nature trumps all. Where our political systems come into play has to do with stigmatizing or legitimizing these practices which mostly affect how regulated/transparent it can be and thus how much models are able to be protected from undue exploitation. Like the so-called “War on Cancer”, “War on Drugs”, “War on Poverty”, etc. taking a no-tolerance position tends to do more harm than good for everyone involved. From an economic standpoint, it would be hard to separate confounding variables such as cultural tolerance from the motivation of economic need including that of prospective exploiters. Producers of illicit material for a kind of black market (and appealing to our lowest impulses) often justify their work in the name of giving these girls’ families a form of economic opportunity. Whatever the societal structure, there will always be a fraction of the population that are awed by the visceral beauty of some of these images (namely, most of our readers) and a fraction of those who come to mistaken conclusions about the sexual implications of this phenomenon. Sorry, that’s the best I can do in such a short reply. -Ron

    • If we exclude those closeup sexual photographs is it still considered pornography? Because someone said the girls were happy and had no problem posing nude. Also I read somewhere that the parents didn’t pressed charges against the studio when it closed. And the most important question is why they let the studio running for many years? Why they didn’t close it right away? There are so many unanswered questions regarding ls studio. If anyone has more info please share.

      • It should be understood that there are ethical principles and then there is practicality. Sexuality itself is not the problem but the exploitation (on two levels) to cater to base urges (to put it simply). Pornography is an attitude, an intent. Removing photos does not necessarily negate that intent and including photos that some may object to does not either. The problem is the law. The law requires some objectivity otherwise we would have to be perfect mind readers to prosecute people.
        A key reason for the parents not pressing charges is because of economic need. The income from the photographs may have provided much-needed income to a family to don’t have the luxury to maintain the highest ethical standards. On the other hand, it is also arrogant for those who can to hold others to an unrealistic standard.
        Regarding law enforcement, it still takes time to collect evidence that would be acted upon in a court by a judge. In short, the issues you have brought up do not really help in ascertaining the guilt or innocence of this studio or, in fact, any other person or company thought to be engaging in questionable behavior. Sorry I can’t be any more helpful. -Ron

    • Bourboulon had no direct associated with LS Studios. Like many artists, his work was appropriated and posted on that legally over-the-line site. The site was shut down about 15 years ago. There is a modern incarnation which uses only 18+ year-old models.

      • Yes. Ls studios were over the line legally, however i think some pictures from Ls are legal and can serve as anatomical reference for artists,because it’s hard to come by pictures of young fit girls like Ls had.So the question is how can we legalize some of those (simple nudity) pictures from Ls that comply with US and EU laws.

        • And in addition, today’s standards of fitness is not the same as the past so using older reference photos may not be adequate. Of even more scientific interest to me (and many others, no doubt) is the specific visual cues that make such images appealing to the browsing public. I am confident that it is not simply the expression of explicit sexuality itself. There is a woefully underexamined aspect of supernormal stimulus in play here. -Ron

          • You must be really careful if you plan on creating ls-studios article.It is possible to post clothed photos from ls studio, it would be legal. Another legal way would be to incorporate the images in another form of art,for example painting.Last legal way is to post the non-explicit, non-lascivious ,and non-sexual images.Those are the only ways to introduce the artist to ls studios without breaking the law.

          • Thank you for the advice, but we are quite experienced with legal protocols. However, it is doubtful that we will cover LS in a dedicated anyway. It just gets referenced in other posts or may be part of a piece on internet girl sites and their legal and ethical issues. I have bigger fish to fry in the foreseeable future. -Ron

          • Do you think LS harmed the girls buy taking erotic photos?What are the legal and ethical issues? I think the problem lies in the explicit pictures,other than that i think LS truly captured the beauty, development , and sexual exploration of the girls which you can’t find anywhere else.As for the question can they consent we need opinion from expert.

          • I can’t be certain since I have only a glancing knowledge of LS Studios (in any incarnation). Few people have put thought into the distinction between erotica and pornography (the artistic vs the commercial). Any harm to the girls would not be so much the nature of the images, but the level of coercion required and stigma after the fact should others learn of these images. Ethically speaking, a case can be made that the girls are engaging in a healthy self-exploration in a properly nurturing environment. Some of the legal issues come out of the peculiarity of a male-dominated society that has existed since the advent of civilization. As for consent, it is a ludicrous notion. Sexual behavior comes from the impulse system of human beings. Sure, younger people are more naive and vulnerable and older people more prudent and cautious but inventing the notion of “consent” is a legal convenience. It would be impractical and expensive—in a court system—to consider each case carefully so this rule of thumb was devised. To be completely fair, we would have to emphasize the intent of the producer and level of coercion needed to get the girls to participate including the misfortune of being in a position of financial need. Coercion could be said to be applied when necessary to get the subjects to express and/or engage in a kind of sexuality not suited to their level of development. Again, I can’t speak to the specifics of LS but it should be understood that the real issues—in a nutshell—are those brought up here. -Ron

          • So do you think they should be public and available at galleries? Imagine how many statues can be sculpted if artists find out about them.

          • Even if I were able to reply definitively to this question, it should be understood that academics rarely have much authority in mainstream society. As you must know, the Western world does have a kind of hangup on sexuality and so any progress would necessarily be slow. Even if that were not the case, it should be understood that sexual activity is largely intimate and, instinctively, not for public consumption. This is biological and psychological and not easily overcome by rational will power. Ethically and with a certain understanding of human sexuality, I would say that more explicit displays of sexuality are not appropriate to be displayed openly at all in public. However, with an appropriate disclosure, such images should be allowed in specific gallery shows. It is reasonable for local governments to have some rules on this—requiring a permit perhaps. As it stands now, there are “secret” collections at universities that offer access to legitimate academicians so there are some barriers but these materials exist either as legitimate erotica or documentation of the life of prostitutes. -Ron

        • I think erotic modeling like LS is positive thing for the girls because their naive personality was exploited when they were young,fragile and have low thinking capacity so as the grow up they will realize that they must learn to live with the fact that the pictures of their exposed bodies will forever be around and that is not their fault but there is nothing that they can do about it so that will train them to love their bodies and not be ashamed of them like many people are ashamed of their own bodies,so when they grow up they will have higher self esteem than most people and will be more healthy psychologically later in life,and more brave.

          • That’s an interested perspective. I suppose it does no harm for the girls to have a little humility and to realize that, like themselves, young people can be impulsive and should not forever be penalized for some decisions made in their youth. In addition, predicting public attitudes and trends in the future is virtually impossible (except a general understanding of the nature of pendulum swings). -Ron

      • From what I know of LS Studios, they noted that nude child images from Jock Sturges, Sally Mann etc. have repeatedly been deemed legal and not child porn. They set out to create equivalent images that ride the border of legality, not quite crossing over into child porn. Then they market them to paedophiles. LS and the similar “Child Modelling” sites are more reprehensible than real child porn, for they are selling innocence as erotica. To combat the ‘Cognitive Distortions’ responsible for paedophilia, we have to do the opposite.

        • Not knowing the specifics of LS Studios, I was reluctant to make a comment either way. However, there was definitely a strong sense that something was sketchy. I thank you for your lucid explanation and your words feel like the kind of tone I would take in dealing with a subject like this. Although, no doubt, pedophiles visit our site, it is not our function to serve as an apologist for practitioners of this perversion (I use this term in the clinical sense). That being said, lay and scientific understanding of pedophilia is rudimentary at best and it would be irresponsible to make crude generalizations without at least a set of clear definitions.
          In support of this reader’s comment, I would like to mention that those who make a living eroticizing children (in the negative sense) are constantly employing new tactics to continue their practices. For instance, when forms of outright nudity were prohibited, they shifted their ground and put the girls in skimpy swimsuits in seductive poses that left no question as to the intended market. -Ron

          • Hello.Can someone with more knowledge explain what kind of pictures were in Ls studio. Was it like Playboy ,Metart or Femjoy but with young girls or more like nudism? How on earth the parents agreed to that? This whole thing about LS studios sounds insane. Thanks.

          • I expect much of it could be classified as child erotica but the problem is that in order to make money catering to people’s lascivious interests, there was an extra seductive edge in the attitudes and poses of some images which borders on pornography. Girls might be winking or blowing kisses or take a particularly provocative pose. The parents’ involvement is unclear. The legitimate work would have been approved by the mother or other legal female guardian but some girls likely had the misfortune of being pretty and in difficult economic straits and were probably more motivated to do the more suggestive stuff. In any case, I would not call it mere nudism, but erotica and when the nudies were banned, they just did the same thing in skimpy swimsuits. It really isn’t about the nudity; it’s really the attitude and intent of the people in production who pander to a fringe interest. This is my best speculation based on fragments of information from numerous readers. -Ron

          • I have two points to make about LS.
            1.How on earth the girls agree for their nude photos to be published online knowing whats online forever remains online.
            2.You should delete all articles and comments about LS on your site because you might increase the curiosity of people to search for them and that will spread the abuse of the girls.

          • I am not privy to the exact conditions and that may have varied widely depending on the photographer (and LS may have operated without the proper permissions). As I stated before, many girls came from poorer families and were pretty enough to make some money this way. Parental involvement probably varied a lot from one model to the next. Although it is obvious to us that there would be a stigma associated with this work, the attitudes in the country of interest (often The Ukraine) are very different from those in English-speaking countries.
            Regarding the curiosity and fodder for “perverts”, I assure you that they are quite capable of satisfying their interests without our help or, indeed, the existence of LS. LS Studios were simply exploiting a pre-existing niche. If anything, our bringing these things to public attention might educate those who may want to fight against perceived unethical (“immoral”) practices. It can be very difficult to get into the heads of others and we need to be reminded of what human beings are capable of, for good or ill. -Ron

          • If clothed pics from LS are legal why i can’t find them online? Can you create article with clothed pics? I want to see how the girls look like with clothes.

          • Just because the girls are wearing clothes does not make the material legal. In the US, the distinction is whether the girl in question is posing in a lascivious way. Certainly that is a subjective term but it makes clothing only a small component on the ruling of legality.

          • I don’t know who that is. We do have an index which lists models if we know their name. You would have more luck looking it up under the photographer’s name. -Ron

          • As Ron said ,I also wonder what made LS so appealing.I don’t consider myself minor attracted person neither then not now. But after I saw LS material 18 years ago i needed psychological re-evaluation and it turn out it was some kind of fetish. So don’t even think about looking for it for your own sake.

          • People misunderstand their own responses to these things. I believe it is these conditioned misconceptions that cause many people to assume they have an unhealthy attraction to minors and some go to extremes in an obstinate act of defensiveness. It’s a bit of a complicated issue but it not my intent to condemn but to make people think. -Ron

  3. Is there any chance you could show more pictures from this book? Or just more Jacques Bourboulon pictures in general? His pictures aren’t readily available online, except for his older models.

    • In fact, they must be available online because that is where my digital copies came from. But I can’t recall where. I try to grab things as they become available as they may come and go. If you contact me privately, I have no objection to sharing the copies from Melodies that I have. -Ron

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