We lieten al eerder het fascinerende werk zien van de Franse fotograaf Nicolas Doreau. We hebben toen gelijk de stoute schoenen aangetrokken en hem een gevraagd of hij aan een kort interview wilde deelnemen. Hij was gelijk enthousiast en we bieden het hier nu aan:
Dear Nicolas Doreau can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Nicolas Doreau. I am 36, I live in Paris and I work as an editor at Radio France International.
At what age did you start with taking pictures? can you remember what type off pictures you took then?
I started taking pictures in 1998 when at the age of 23. Back then I snapped at everything that was in front of me: buildings, roofs, power lines, Paris, friends… I didn’t have any pre-conceived topic.
What made you start with photography, what did you liked about it?
I don’t really know what brought me to photography, but I have always been attracted to the still image. My brother was subscribing to Photo Magazine and every month my virgin eyes discovered documentaries shot all over the world, some of them pretty raw and brutal. The real triggering moment happened when I took over my brother’s old Minolta 700 and I started understanding how to work the aperture, the shutter etc.
Did your attitude towards photography changed during your live and what does it mean to you now?
For newer generations it has become a common place, but the very idea of capturing a scene of life and immortalizing it forever continues to fascinate me now as much as it did then, the same way I also get a thrill when I start editing my photos on the computer. It is a really special moment that can determine in which mood I will be for the rest of the day; if I got some nice shots in the street I will be happy and cheerful, but if I don’t manage…. Back when I started, photography was more of a hobby, whereas now it is more of a passion; it is in my guts, I think about it constantly. My overall aim is to progress and to take better photos every year. I am getting more and more critical towards my own work and that becomes my main motor: not to be satisfied with a mere pretty picture, but to always try and do better!!! When I walk around without my camera I am not completely comfortable; I have this feeling that I will miss this incredible scene. It has become a very serious thing and for it I spend an enormous amount of time and energy.
Did you follow a professional photographic training?
I have learned photography by myself, reading magazines, observing the result of my photos getting developed. The notion of self-taught knowledge is important to me: I don’t want to be formatted or influenced by a discipline or an education. My mistakes will come as a part of my way of taking photos.
When we look at your images they have a clear Nicolas Doreau “signature”. Can you describe what that is? What do you want to express/ tell with your images?
I have always been interested by the geometrical aspect of photography. My photos are often very structured, very graphical. The frame of my photos has for a long time focused on the geometrical side of things, maybe too much even. Recently I have tried to base myself a bit more on my emotions, on the human side of things, and to bring the geometrical part to the background, more as a final touch. First I start expressing my feelings, and then I let the frame around them happen naturally. I try and tell a story, even a short one; I want the witness of my photos to escape for a few seconds and to get his/her own impression of the still. If the image you are looking at allows you to escape, it means it contains something special.
In your favorite images set we see pictures of people, architecture and almost art like images. What do you like about these subjects that you take pictures of it?
Today the human side of things is the one I find the most interesting; “architectural photography” interests me less than it used to. My photos are still very inspired by the geometrical elements surrounding me, but I focus a lot more on the scenes of everyday life, on people.
Which images do you like best in these three categories (send samples) and why?
Street photography is what motivates me the most. It remains the most difficult kind of photography: to be able to capture in a fraction of seconds a slice of everyday life, which will tell you a story; to grab a so called banal instant and to realize there is magic in the very banality of it. What interests me and pushes me is the instantaneous aspect, the decisive instant: one click and it is the good one; one second later and it is too late. Street photography is without artifice: you feel something, you frame, you shoot, and sometimes a little bit of magic happens.
How do you take pictures of people? Do you walk around and shoot or wait for the people to come to you? What is your way of doing this?
When I take pictures of people there is no specific rule. Sometimes I prepare my frame and I wait for people to come into it. Other times I find a subject I like and I shoot the scene without thinking too much. With time I have become less shy than I once was: I often get as close as two meters, even one meter, from my subject. When I see there is magic to capture my heartbeat accelerates and I can get very near people without embarrassment, such is the excitement. The truth is the fewer questions you ask yourself, the less people pay attention to you! That is one of the reasons I bought an M9; I can get close to people without them being aware of it, I can be glued to them and frame my photo, and then I disappear. The same thing would be a lot more difficult with a 5dmk2 or with a camera of similar size.
Of course it is not everybody who is keen on getting photographed: people get annoyed and ask what you are up to, but then you just have to smile and explain your work normally and the problem gets solved.
We also see a lot of black and white images. What Is the reason you take B/W pictures? Do you convert color images to black and white afterwards or do you decide in advance to take only B/W pictures?
I take all my photos in color and I convert them later in Lightroom. I will choose a black and white finish if that is the only natural thing to do on the print. It is a quick process: I compare the photo in color and in black and white, and within a second I know what I will choose.
All images in your Flickr account are taken with a Leica M9 camera. Is this your first Leica camera and when did you start taken pictures with it?
On my Flikr page 90% of the photos are taken with the Leica M9. The other photos were taken with a Nikon Fm2 or with Canon or Nikon digital compact cameras. Yes the M9 is my first Leica.
Why did you bought the Leica M9 and not an other camera?
I bought the Leica M9 because it compiles everything I needed in a camera:
A full frame, a compact and solid camera, a perfect design, a little bit of legend, and especially a very discreet camera.
What features do you like best in the Leica M9?
The quality of the sensor really impressed me.
What lenses do you have and what is your favorite lens?
I own a Summicron 28asph and a Summilux 50asph. I mainly use the 50, which has an extraordinary precision. It is a fantastic lens.
Is there anything that is on your wish list of subjects or people you still want to take pictures of?
My biggest wish is to take the perfect photo, which of course doesn’t exist. But I follow this quest: to capture the magical instant when the composition is homogeneous, when everything is harmonious. To take a photo which will stay in one’s mind, that is my wish.
Thanks Nicolas for this interview and we are looking forward to your new images.
You can take a look at his images on his Flickr account: