fully honours his 'nickname'. Although he doesn't have a specific photographic genre, he has his very own style recognizable in all his pictures. Thierry likes all styles but loves to transgress codes and state of the Art. His only goal is to share his work and feelings. Enjoy this interesting interview and learn to know a bit more about the artist behind his images.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I live in the south of France, near the Camargue. Before moving there, I have both lived near Paris and in the area of Bordeaux. I am married, father of 4, and been retired for two years. Before retiring, I was working in the aeronautics’ field, more specifically on prototypes of fighter jets.
I have been doing Karate-do since the age of 16; this sport is a second passion to me. I am a 4th Dan instructor; I officiate as a referee and judge when there is a competition. My alias on 1x “Shogun” (in connection to the Samouraï) was a direct reference to the sport.
Since I took my retirement, I have been a member of the “Club Photo Marius” - the photography club of St Mitre les Remparts – the small village where I live.
In 2018, I have founded my own photography business: “Transgressed Light”. One could therefore say that I am a ‘young’ 62 years old professional photographer ðŸ˜‰.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
My father owned a Super 8mm camera in the 1960’s/1970’s. He used to film our holidays, the moments shared with the family as well as those with friends. My parents have therefore bought me my first camera, a small Kodac instamatic. This was the defining moment when the ‘photography’ virus started spreading in me. It was my time to see the world through a lens. Later on, in 1974, I bought a 24X36 SLR camera with my first pay check. It was a Zenit E, which was followed by a Fujica ST701. For the record, I still have them and they still work perfectly. The youngsters reading this interview will think I am a caveman. I have also taken pictures in 6X6 with a Mamiya C330 in the 80’s.
Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
When I really started taking pictures, I was looking up to Helmut Newton, David Hamilton, and Lucien Clergue. I would pay a particular attention to the books and magazines in which their pictures were published. Henri Cartier, wonderful French photographer, also inspired me to seize the moment. Today, with hindsight and after almost 50 years of practice, I grab inspiration from paintings and sculptures: Botero, César, Giacometti, Picasso, Dali, Vermeer (Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Milkmaid), and Georges Braque. Not only do all of them master shapes, the light, and colours, they also have an exceptional creativity. In my portraits, there is always a reference to them. That said, I always try to transgress the codes. I also appreciate minimalists and easy-to-read pictures although these are very challenging to take.
What first attracted you to photography?
I always wanted to capture these magical moments where light creates a particular mood and fills you with unforgettable emotions. At the beginning, I was only photographing landscapes, picturesque decors or buildings. The point was just to look at the results and have fun. I wanted to transfer on the film the same vision or emotion that I had when I was triggering the camera.
I used to keep the pictures to myself for many years; I was alone on my universe. It is only from 2009 that I started to show and share my photos with fellow photographers. In December 2014, I passed a milestone by signing up to 1x.com. I was astounded to have my sixth suggested picture published. I remember this day very well, I was proud of myself as I had been warned that it was hard to be published on 1x.
I openly admit that I do not understand the work and vision of some photographers, it gets over my head. Although it’s not my cup of tea, I respect their work nonetheless.
I find it sad that these days, it is very difficult and marginal to be able to live from photographs of art if one does not have contacts in the art world and substantial financial means. With hindsight and the experience gained through the years, we become wise and calm, but I think of the young photographers. In my humble opinion, it will become harder and harder to stand out, not only in photography but in the arts in general. I am confident the picture’s world will evolve.
You have your very own style but your work is very diversified. Can you explain why this is?
Yes! It is true that my work is very diverse. I am well aware of it, even though it’s something that has been reproached to me. The reason why is very simple. I love the PHOTOGRAPHY and the beautiful pictures. I work with my emotions, it’s my heart speaking. I appreciate what is beautiful and good. What do you want?! I will be ecstatic in front of a large variety of pictures, it does not matter whether it is a superb portrait, a landscape, a still or anything other style of photography, abstract or conceptual.
I like photography in all its diversity. The other photographers keep on telling me that I cannot do every genre, and that I specialise in one only. Because I actually like the diversity, I do not wish to specialise in one particular style for now. That said, I have to admit that I have been torn for some time now between getting specialised or continue working the way I do. My choice will be very simple when the time will come, it will be based solely on enjoyment and willingness.
The first step I take is to try to modestly reproduce images that I like. Then, I make them my own. When I see an image in the street or in my mind, a behaviour, a good light: I trigger in my head. I write down on a piece of paper where and when it was to take the picture later. For many reasons, it is often impossible to set the sensor of the camera on the spot. However, I have an incredible and uncountable bank of images in my brain. I also have visions crossing my mind at various times of my life and I try to translate them into an I picture later. My work is a quest for creativity, both in portraits and still life compositions. My pictures are thought through, built up and taken in my mind first. Then, once I have taken them with my camera, I use an image processing software.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection? Personally, I think that for a picture to call out, the three are required. Well, at least in my work, there are a story, a mood and a technique. I precise that for beginners who will read this text, that even if the photograph is blurry, even if there is grain, even if the colours are unusual, and even if the frame is not perfect, the photograph is not bad because the technique is not there. One needs to master the technique first to then be able to get emancipated. But the path to freedom is long. I give lots of importance to the light; pictures are like vibrating particles, and therefore challenging to master.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
When I work in studio or outside for portraits, I prefer to work with amateur female models, and if possible, with first timers. I like this ‘first timer’ aspect because there are moments of shyness, of anxiety. I like that the model is not at ease in front of the lens. There is even fear towards the photographer sometimes. Let me reassure you, I explain, I put at ease my future models. The young girls and women who pose for me are members of my family, of my friends’ family, or of acquaintance’s family. Sometimes, I simply ask to a stranger naturally. Before a shooting, I meet the model in a neutral place (a café), I show my personal work on my laptop. I talk with her, I reassure her, and then we establish our respective rules and limits. If I already have a project, I talk to her to have a verbal agreement. If I do not have a project, I let her know later. To me, there has to be a mutual confidence relationship.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
To start of, I take my time. I feel, I observe, I judge. Once, I waited in front of a bench a whole afternoon to take a picture I already had in my mind. When I have a specific project, I do some scouting at various times to get steeped in the place and the moods. As I mentioned above, I have already triggered, I have the picture in my hardware, in my brain. When it comes to a studio shooting, I carefully prepare my lightning space and the accessories ahead without forgetting my camera.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
As I shoot lots of portraits or still life compositions, I mostly use the Fujinon 55mm f1.2 lens, which is equivalent to 85 mm in full frame. I also use the 18-55mm f2.8, which is equivalent to 24/70 mm in full frame. I work with APSC boxes and Fujifilm lenses. The quality is surprisingly good and they have old-fashioned command dials. I love that. My dream would be to work with a medium size frame, like the Fujifilm GFX-50S or R to be able to do large prints. I am more into very large prints rather than ‘stamp-size’ prints. As most of my pictures are shot in a studio, the weight and the volume do not bother me. I am calling out to Fujifilm here.
What software do you use to process your images?
I process my photos in RAW and then I use Lightroom and Photoshop.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I start by doing a kind of storyboard. Then, I do the montage for the still life compositions. Regarding the studio shootings, they usually last between 2 to 3 hours. I prepare the background, the flashes, the reflectors prior to the shooting. I take care of the last adjustments for the light when the model is in. I often work with various sources of light, and I always use a cell/ flash meter. I take a 10 minutes break every hour. Then, I do a classic development on all the photographs at first before working on only four or five of them which have the results sought for. These will then be used as a base to create my portraits. Doing so takes me a long time (Lightroom and Photoshop) and, in general, I spend at least an hour per image. I consistently go back to it to get the result that I had imagined in my head at the beginning.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Photography and how do you get started?
If I had only one piece of advice to give to the beginner photographer, it would be to dare while still enjoying what they are doing. I tend to avoid giving advice to beginners; I prefer to tell and show them how I work, then they make up their own mind. I am a Karate instructor, and I give classes of photography in studio. I always say that I am at the service of our art, and that I am only there to show a path and a direction. Although there are many of those, each and everyone will find his/her path thanks to experience and practice. There is a very important thing though: it is to look at many photographs (in magazines and books, on the internet…) and to go to exhibitions, meet and talk to artists in order to try to feel and understand this magical world. World in which a captured instant becomes something from the past in the blink of an eye. I almost forgot, they should take loads of pictures and show them to other photographers, professional or amateurs.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
The most famous ones: Helmut Newton, David Hamilton, Lucien Clergue, Henri Cartier Bresson, Sean Archer, Paul Apal’kin, Rodney Smith, Steve Mc Curry…
This is only a short list as I follow over 150 people on 1x. I do not wish to hurt the feelings of the others as I love them all. They motivate me and seeing their work makes me progress and evolving on my own path.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
There are so many pictures that have inspired me that it is difficult to make a choice. I like too many genres and styles to make a single choice.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I had serious health issues last year, so I genuinely do not set goals for myself any more. I live every day to the best with my body and my mind, without ever giving up (which is not an easy task). That said, I keep on dreaming. My wish is to own a big professional studio in which there are decors, a cyclorama, lots of accessories and clothes, a make-up artist, a hairdresser, and fantastic professional equipment. The only thing that nobody can take from us is our dreams. One day, in another life, I wish to live from the art of photography. I want to keep on enjoying what I do, share my passion and my experience. Finally, I wish that my work as a composer do not let anyone feel indifferent and that it creates an emotion in the viewers’ eyes.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
- One: It is my daughter (and it’s the dad’s heart speaking);
- Two: She was at a time in her life where she was trying to find herself, a critical period;
- Three: I was also trying to find myself in a genre of portrait shot in a studio;
- Four: I have succeeded in creating the mood and the atmosphere that I wanted;
- Five: This picture has received several awards in France;
- Six: It’s my first photograph of a creative portrait in which I have well managed the light and the merging of textures in the background.
As many photographers say, it’s also often the last one. This is the reason why I have chosen another picture. That one is still my daughter but with a different mood and story, one year later.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?Discovering the website 1x gave me access to a brand new dimension. I am speaking here of rigour, quality, originality, sensibility and creativity of the other photographers offered on the site.
I have learnt a lot by looking at the pictures, the tutorials and the magazine with the reports every day. I have steeped in the wonderful photographs, and I feel like my work as an artist is starting to take shape slowly but surely. I genuinely thank everyone in the 1x team for making this website live and known to people, and for having noticed my work. I am proud of it and I hope that this spotlight will be positive and not ephemeral like many other things these days. Life is fantastic. One should take advantage of every moment, even in the difficult times.
Have a good light and dare transgressing and jostling the rules!
I warmly thank Yvette and the 1.x team for this interview. Thanks also to the photographers who follow me regularly, I kiss you all. TL
Charlaine Gerber PRO
Great article with exceptional photos, I greatly admire your work, Thierry and thank you kindly for the mention....:-)
Dear Charlaine, thank you very, very much.
Alfredo Sanchez PRO
Amazing interview my dear friend and thank you very much for mentioned my name in it. Standing ovation to Ivette and to you Thierry!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bravo!!!
Wonderfully insightful interview, full of useful and inspiring information for all.
If it will inspire a few people, I am pleased. Thank you Patrick.
Saskia Dingemans PRO
Interesting interview and beautiful pictures ,Thierry. Yvette thanks so much for the wonderful interview . Gr,Sas
Thank you so much Sas !
Thierry Dufour PRO
Le travail de Thierry est vraiment exceptionnel, j'adore la variété de ses compositions, le fait d'avoir plusieurs styles à son arc est un signe de talent. Bravo Thierry et félicitations. Un grand merci Yvette pour ce magnifique interview !!!
Un grand merci à toi Thierry, ça me réchauffe le coeur et me motive pour continuer mon chemin tranquillement toujours avec la même passion pour la photographie.
Great interview ! Super Photo. The breadth of your interests is very close to me. Thank you, Thierry ! Thank you, Yvette !
Thank you so much Vladimir
Yvette Leur PRO
Great interview and very divers en interesting portfolio. Thank you so much for the shout out. Best wishes and keep up the great photography work!
Your work is remarkable, thank you for your comment, Yvette !
An author with a great sense for art. My most sincere congratulations on a long career and artistic success.
Thank you so much Peppe, it gives me great pleasure, and it always motivates me
Rob Darby PRO
This is a great interview, Yvette. I love how personal Thierry was, and how you were able to draw this out. Thierry - thank you for sharing your vision on photography. I especially liked your rejection of being limited to only one genre. Like you, I enjoy the process of learning about various types of photography, although I confess that portraiture feels like a far off universe that I may not reach. Therefore, I will continue to enjoy the fine portraits, macro work, and landscapes you do. They are inspiring.
A big thank you for your comment, and good luck in your photographic vision
Great interview , Yvette! Amazingly creative photos and artistic vision!
Thank you for your comment Ludmila.
Christian MARCEL PRO
Thank you Yvette to shine a spotlight on Thierry's work et félicitations Thierry pour le contenu vivant et sincère de votre propos. Louky Bersianik a écrit "Transgresser, c'est progresser " à voir vos images, il n'y a pas de raison d'en douter ! Bravo !
Merci beaucoup Christian
Luc Stalmans PRO
Interesting and nice Interview. I am honored that you mentioned my name here
Thank you so much Luc, I love your work for a long time.
Eddy Verloes PRO
Great photos! Great interview !
thank you so much Eddy
I liked this interview a lot, maybe because the experience has been very close to me. Thank you very much to Thierry Lagandré and to .Yvette for telling us.
Thank you Mario.