On photography

I find photography to be magical, I find it an adventure.

As far as I can remember, I have always been attracted by photography. In fact, my father was amateur photographer, one of those who liked to process and print their own work. I can still picture in my mind the darkroom that he built in our home when I was a boy. To my young and ingenuous eyes, the room was reminiscent of an ancient alchemist workshop, shrouded in mystery and endowed with an arcane quality, The place of wizardry where images were conjured up out of darkness, among the pungent odors of chemicals, in some ritualistic manner only comprehended by the initiated.

Long before I purchased my first camera, I was leafing through photography magazines and photo books; not the technical sort, mind you, but rather the more inspirational ones, those which showcased the masters of their art; photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh or Patrick Demarchelier, among others, whose glamorous work incensed the glossy pages.

I have come a long way since I clumsily took my first pictures on the coast of Brittany.

Though I explored several fields of photography, my mind was, early on, set on taking photographs of people and especially women.

When photographing men, one might find himself constricted by a set of rules of convention and conformism where the same cuts, the same colors, so to speak, are constantly shown, as if to convey a spartan, businesslike mood and attitude.

When photographing women, on the other hand, one feels himself uplifted to a dazzling world of exploding hues and shapes, As if women were flying through their social circles like free-spirited butterflies, seemingly unimpeded by the rules of their male peers, exuding the mixture of playful exuberance, mystery and sophisticated glamour belonging to creatures of romance.

A fantasy, perhaps? But what is photography if not the art of make believe, the art of illusion, the art of fantasy? Photography is like a lie beautifully weaved.

With my camera in hand, women trust me like they never would without it. Is it because the camera makes me more confident, less shy or  less clumsy? Does the camera serve as a magic wand without which I am just an introvert?

Whatever the reason, a flimsy emotional bond is taking shape at each photo session, a complicity between model and photographer, a sort of role playing cut short as soon as the camera stops clicking and the strobe lights stop bursting. 

Then the protagonists withdraw back into their shell…

And who are those women? Family members, friends, strangers encountered in the street, actresses, models, fleeting muses as elusive as trains in the night whose   likeness is deftly captured on celuloid.

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