A photogapher is first and foremost a witness. I feel close to people like Doisneau or Salgado, close to photojournalism too: I tell story, I describe the world, and I try to analyse it, to make it more accessible. My photographs bear witness before being works of art. Whereas the artist modifies reality, I try to show it as it is.
My photographs are sometimes deemed cliche. Me, I don't mind shooting picture postcards! The word cliche does not bother me. It is not necessarily derogative.
Indeed, photography is revealing. It seems self evident to me, that people's reactions to The Earth Above are further proof of it.
My prensent expreience is pure magic: bringing knowledge to others, feeling tryly useful... To feel taht one has contributed something useful is the most wonderful gratification one can have in this life.
Ethics are indeispensable to me. I need a framework to my life, with values I hold dear.
I like honesty in the broades sense: keeping one's word, acting responsible, being accountable... Simple principles, really pretty basic stuff, but crucial.
In the eigthies particulary, photography was a fairly easy profession, fairly exciting too in so far as getting published was no big deal, and you could earn money from it... Hence the risk of dubious behaviour.
Since I've been in this trade, I have tried my best to be honest, to be respectful of those I photograph and I remain true to those I work with. (For instance, I have stayed with the same two publishers for the last twenty five years.)
The trust we build over the years if of tremendous help to me when I start in a new project and need to find associates.
Technically speaking, photography is not too terribly difficult. The difficulty lies in having ideas and following them through. You need a sense of purpose to carry out your projects. You need a firm resolve, hard work, earnestness in order to develop something worthy of interest over the years.
I started as an animal photographer, and it remains a passion of mine.
Man is an animal, though we too often tend to forget it. We are no more than an evolved specie. All animals are our brothers and our friends. We all depend upon each other and must respect life around us. The animal side in our nature can be positive, or else terribly destructive. We must accept it, act upon it, for man now commands such power taht he is indeed responsible for other species as well as the fate of the whole planet.
In the end, to my mind, photographing people or animals amounts to the same thing.
In photography, the two words I like most are "simplicity" and "authenticity". I try to see things with authenticity, in natural manner : no cheating in order to show things as they are. This is the way in which I would like to see things. My ideal point of view.
It's only a means to an end, a method which is indispensable to my work. There lies the sum total of my interest in it.
Getting hooked on technicalities is the way to get lost. A pitfall to be avoided, and a major problem with amateur photographers who believes technique does it all.
You can take a superb picture without any technique to speak of, whereas highly technical photographs are rarely relevant if ever.
Like everything else pertaining to technique, depth of field is not among my primary concerns.
However, working in depth on a subject to get to the bottom of things is crucial to me. I know what I want, and I am determined, which may well account for our precent success. In my profession, I continually wage war against people who do not pusue their projects to the end, who are set in their ways and do not question it, who are easily satisfied, It makes life difficult, but I got used to it and, with time, I tru to be kinder in my approach.
This was our starting point for The Earth From Above, a project which has kept me busy for five years.
The result is, let us say, an assessment of things as they stand_mine, and that of the scientists I worked with.
My own assessment remains in essence superficial in so far as photography only deals with surfaces, but the texts commenting each photograph certainly delve a lot deeper.
Why does one become a photographer?
Initially, I think everone has the same motivation: the desire to travel, to excape from everyday routine. Man, like most animals, has a restlessness in him, a need to set off. And then with time, you realise that you learn just as much by looking around you....
How does one become a photographer?
You need to have "an eye", and I don't think itcan be learnt. Going to a specialised school is therefore not imperative, but it is a good thing: more important than learning about technique, need to mature, to acquire knowledge and culture. At least, this is the way I feel. I am not one to pontificate. We must all find our waym and follow it.
Photography requires hard work, seriousness and solid culture. You also need extensive knowledge of your subject_such was the case with my first project about lions. A photographer must also have sound general and artistic knowledge; he must be familiar with the work of photographers before him, be a regular visitor to museums, etc..
In so far as the potographic frame, let us say that being a photographer entils "having an eye". It can't be learnt - at best, you can only learn a few "tricks".
I'm not taht frame conscious.. My pictures can be cropped so long as their meaning remains intact. The one thing I will not telerate is mindless misrepresentation for reasons of layout.
At this point, I'm bang in the middle of it, and it's super! Being a famed photographer is, of course, most valorising, and I won't pretend otherwise though I know one should not get too big headed.
In any case, we all beg for recognition : we want to be acknowledged by our parents, our children, by the family at large, and then, by the general public.
But to make a success of one's life as a human, well, that's another story altogether.