Gautier Van Lieshout: young talented photographer on the path to success
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It’s about half a year ago when I stumbled across a very funny picture, which showed quite a setup for a fun photograph, good choices in aperture, tones and composition, just little things that could have been done differently. From all these criteria and the complexity of the scene, I had the impression to write a critique for an experienced, engaged professional in photography.
There is an African saying: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
This introduction is followed by a live interview where you can learn a bit more about him and his goals in life. He wants to be as successful as Peter Lindbergh, his idol. And that’s a long way. You better don’t walk it alone.
Curious as I am, I arranged a meeting in Paris when I travelled to Bretagne for landscapes. I met a very energetic, kind, stylish young man, who had a clear vision in mind what his future will look like. Again, I was impressed. He told me he had his first photo exhibition, “Le temps des femmes” at the age of 17. Gautier was already working with a team, people he knew from university, people that joined by references, people he acquired by Facebook. The glue is a give and take, make-up artists and models need references, his cooperation partner, Pierre, does making-of videos in exceptional quality, and other partners like the Marriott and Make Up for Ever sponsor him non-financially. Not to forget La grande Dame at every set, Alexia, his Directrice Artistique (sounds even better in French!). She backs him up, prepares the next set, has an eye on everything, like the progress of make-up, organizes accessories, negotiates things for him, so he can really concentrate on light and shots, his photography. She’s the good soul at his sets, and as a very determined person with her eyes everywhere, she simply enables him to get to his results. Why I know? I’ll come to that…
Cassandra Ceschi & Samantha Adamo, MUA Cynthia Lefebvre, Hair Stylist Ema Martins, Backstage Photography
Philippe Boulogne, Light Assistant Pierre (AlgauProduction) , Backstage film Tanguy Chouard, Light Assistant
In advance, we exchanged a lot via Facebook, one group discussion per shooting, where we were introduced, we connected, had a look at the others work. I researched the location, did a list of perspectives and spots I liked and had ideas for. I also had a look at the amazing costumes Romain creates, wrote a wish list. Alexia arranged the transport, and we’re talking about single dresses up to 15 kilo, heavy fabric, metal and ceramic applications. Fascinating designs, just not always easy to wear. But I believe women just feel great in these clothes, and that’s what you need at a set. I can’t thank Gautier enough, he gathered a group of fantastic people around him and “loaned” them to me. The workflow is so much different than when you work alone. There is no interruption, you need an additional strip – somebody fetches it. Little adjustment to the giraffe holding the beauty dish, stay where you are, don’t lose the perspective, just say what you want and concentrate on the result. While you do the one set, let people carry the sofa from the bar into the suite. They heat up the room in advance, so the model does not get goose bumps. Many eyes see many things, an experienced team simply knows what to do. For me, this was like a photographic paradise. A model who knows what to do, Alexia, an assistant who couldn’t know the equipment any better, Gautier, and nothing to think about but the lights, poses, locations.
Live studio shot - “New Humans”
Gautier created the idea of the glitters together with Cassandra Ceschi. She was there from the real beginning of New Humans’ story. Samantha and Cassandra work as a team, and became Gautier's core « MUA » team. Both did a hell of a job with the complex make-up of four models that day. Cynthia is responsible for everything to do with hair. From her wide skill set she’s also a wig-maker and creates a lot of things for the head beyond just dressing hair. I observed Gautier, his interaction with his team. When he shoots, he just gives short commands. After a few shots are done, the team has a look, or at least a few of them, always Alexia. Things might be rearranged. Philippe is Gautier's first light assistant, he’s a passionate people photographer himself. From a glimpse at a frame he immediately knows what’s wrong. And Ema with her good instinct of sceneries does wonderful backstage photography. Many sessions are documented on the artists websites and on YouTube.
A set of shot takes roundabout 20-30 minutes. Gautier varies angles very deliberately, does series, changes light setups quite frequently. He has the ideas for his photographs in mind long before the shooting. The advantage of working with always the same team is that you don’t need to explain much. Additional ideas may develop at the set, the order of sets may change, and then you feel the high level of loyalty and respect in their human interaction. No loud word, no moaning, all work in unison, no discussion who actually grabs the task. Things get done, everybody shows up in time, like mentioned, a machinery. A very kind and polite kind of “machine”, with a good sense of humour and portion of fun.
Watch this artist, I’m pretty convinced in little time from now, he will make it. He had publications in Vogue Italia, Normal Magazine, Eye Magazine, PHOTO magazine, Fine Eye Magazine, Ô magazine, OpenEye Magazine, at the age of 18. For a photographer who sees his future in fashion, you could say he already arrived.
Gautier, if I’d ask your girlfriend Ema to describe you in a few words, what would she say? I’ll see her tomorrow, so be honest!
If I remember right, your first exhibition was at the age of 17. What made you want to become a professional photographer at such a young age?
I came across your first work posted in 1x Critique section, a shot where you brought in five models for a shot, at a well chosen location, all costumed. I was deeply impressed, and I believe you were impressed by the feedback you received from senior critics. What brought you to 1x.com?
Most of us will be ‘lonely fighters’, I have the pleasure of a passionate photographer as girlfriend, I believe, you too. But you obviously work in teams. As we can see from the various making-of-videos on your personal site, there are many people involved. How did these teams form?
The latest works I saw occasionally play with genders, have a cool touch always, even when emotions are involved, they rather appear synthetically, androgyny. What do you seek when making a picture?
What bores you to see in images, whether they are portraits, fashion or nudes?
Do you consider what your models might desire when being portrayed, or is the result only your vision in a picture?
How would you define beauty, not in a real world, but as a photo?
What is your view on nudity in photographs? A theme, a medium, a necessity?
Where do you draw inspiration from? Are there favourite artists or works you study?
How spontaneous is photography for you? Do you do spend time pre-planning, storyboarding etc. or do you rather let creativity flow during the session?
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography in this time?
What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
Where do you see yourself in 3 years? What can we expect to see from Gautier in the future?
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