Aurora Borealis, 2013 © Didier Massard

Constructing magical dioramas in his Paris studio, photographer Didier Massard tests the limits of our credulity. Though some are based off of real locations around the globe, the mysterious sets are birthed from the recesses of the artist’s imagination, rendered in such romantic perfection as is rarely seen in nature. Placing his trust in the intrigue and guile of film over digital manipulation, Massard spends months to create a single image, masterfully manipulating the eye through lighting, long exposure times, and masking techniques.

Massard’s enchanting territories realize those spaces of unreality that lurk in a child’s imagination, tricking us once more into believing the most wondrous of fantasies. Alas, the sets are designed solely for the camera; a slight shift of perspective will shatter the illusion. This miraculous ice palace, painted by the northern lights, can never host human visitors in its cavernous walls. For Massard, the still image freezes and neutralizes what is alive and in motion, but his photographs aim to achieve the inverse, breathing life into those mysterious lands that cannot exist in reality.