I AM AN OBSERVER
City Time, Tuesday, June 24, 2008
French photographer Fabien Lemaire dabbles in the unconventional and unfolds some intriguing tales in the process. He talks to City TimesWheter he works with a celebrity ego or captures ordinary urban life on the streets, French photographer Fabien Lemaire goes beyond the cold rooted aspect of a snapshot and builds a picture out of whatever pertinent items can be gathered and placed together to tell the story - thanks to his talent as a graphic designer, his love for painting, the naturalism of the subject and artful technologies. Through aesthetic excellence hemasters the art of photography is such a way that his exposures are often revolutionised as paintings where water and lightmove into substance ndmake-up. The slough of the éléments acts like a visual effect. Everythingmingles: natural mineral and urban life, eternity and fleeting instants; distances get closer and momentsmerge. Beyond globalisation andmaterialisation, further, he brings a more spiritual vision into his work, often natural and always humane. There is warmth coming fromthe light captured by the camera. The invisible becomes obvious.Are you a self-taught photographer or did you have a mentor who set you on your way ? It all started when I was 12 years old, when I discovered an old camera in the closet, which belonged tomy father. Since then, I kept a passion for this art and devotedmy life to photography of nature and of reports. I studied graphic design at Claude Garamond and MaximilienVox, but still pursuedmy passion in this period by taking photos day and night of my environment. Step by step, I discovered the digital art of hotography, like a painter discovers his pencils. While searching formy créative identity, I travelled all over Europe and Canada, Middle East, Morocco, going back home full of inspiration fromurban landscapes melted with humanity and nature. After working as junior artistic director, I went to the South of France where I lead an art-therapy workshop.The city remains the heart ofmy artistic work. What do you have inmind when you photograph ? I am an observer, and a photographer should be. I feel the instant throughmy sensés till I get the green light to start. The sensation comes to me. When this happens, my ambition is to produce a vision of that place and that vision has to be unique. It must reveal the hidden aspects of that place. I can’t come here and show pictures of France and say: ‘Ok, I’m French, and these are pictures of France, buy these, thank you, and bye.’ Something should be there that attracts and hypnotises my viewers. In fashion, as I have different objectives like design, the choice of models, light, photographic equipment (film, digital SLR, medium-format), places and the requirements of the customer... my ultimate goal is that the technique should not take precedence overmy artistic touch. Sometimes, the reverse can happen too, because having ideas is good, but they should be feasible fromthe point of view of technical and Financial assistance.
Do you feel that your identity changes when you lift the camera? Do you act differently ? My personal work is very different compared to my fashion shooting. I search for inspiration in every Small detail with an eye of curiosity and then I create a painting with my camera. It is all decided in the city, when I walk the whole day and night as a spectator. But still it’s not just ‘clic-clac’; the photographs are a reflection ofmy vision that develops during the hypnotic synchronicity of my meeting with the elements of nature. It’s completely different when Imake a fashion shooting for a brand. At that time I am the chief of theorchestra, I search for what Iwant, I ammore relaxed and discreet as I cognise how I have to develop the image that I have inmymind.Ever since digital photography was first introduced to the main Stream photographer there is a debate on which format is better – film or digital. What are your comments on this ? I think traditional photography is better andmore beautiful, but much more expensive and slower in the process. The problem with digital technology in photography is that it has a very special and artificial effect on development. I don’t like that effect; in fact I try to bring a qualitative change and delete that outward appearance and generate the natural sensation of film, but it’s not simple every time. On the other hand, ecologically and economically, digital is relevant. But for a Professional photographer it’s not just the camera or the number of mega pixels; it is the lens, the project, the light and the spirit.So,what tools and techniques do you use to create your art ? A Mac Pro in my office with Adobe Photoshop, a Powerbook for travelling with a Canon 5D with lens and two or three flashes for fashion shooting. I prefer to use traditional, but sometimes when I am short on the time and economic factor like during the fashion shoots, digital ismy option. But,my photography is not influenced through digital effects; there is no spécial effect of any digital software like Photoshop, there is no transparency, no colour changing tricks. Once the picture is transferred to my computer, using my own technique I model it as I had pictured it in my mind for perfection.Can you recall anymemorablemoment from your time in this profession ? In fashion my best souvenir is the shooting of a diamond worth 1.5million euros. In reportage there is one from Berlin 1999 - the love parade - I think 1.5million people were there for street dance. I walked the whole day and night... that was an incredible experience.What works have you brought to your latest exhibition « Impulse » ? Dubai and theMiddle East are not just hotspots for oil and the dollar. They have an original and cultural mix of life.
‘Impulse’ is an invitation to an insight ful, abstract and subtle voyage to this life through the senses. It is a creative and sensitive concept that contributes to the new power art movement in the Middle East and simultaneously creates a bridge between the lights of Paris and those of the new Dubai through various visual, olfactive and musical ambiences. Based on a theme very dear tome, which is the ‘city’, the portfolios are inspired by the two elements which dominate Dubai: water, omnipresent in spite of the desert, and movement, perpetual in this city where nothing ever stops. They can be divided into different series : firemen with abstract movement, hot sensation, natural ambience of rainbow water, the body of a dancer in the air and the night ambience of the creek in Dubai. These 35 pictures are the extract ofmy vision of France and the UAE. I used Diassec, the best quality material to print thèse images. Diassec is similar to plexiglass, but has a spécial effect on the colour, the sensation is better. The photo turns out to be a design object and gives a fresh look of urban life.Your previous project ‘Transparence’was a huge success. It became the subject of your exhibitions. Tell us something about it. ‘Transparence’ was a compilation of photographs full of life and colour. I focused on unusual places, situations and details, using the superposition principle and playing with transparency and colour saturation. The project gives a soul to cities and objects as it takes it away from human beings. One can discover new visions of famous European cities such as London, Paris, Hanover, Bologna, Berlin, Venice, Budapest... a completely new vision ofmixing day and night, flesh and substance, skin and sunrays.Many photographers conform to a spiritual approach in photography. Do you ever feel this way or do you think some have a ‘natural eye’ for photography ? I think I am very spiritual. I like all traditions and cultures because I think there is just one power and that is love. I think everyone has a personal vision of life that can change. For example, when I explore a city and find that it is boring and lacks a city life, I reconstruct, its poetic image of what I want it to be. My art then becomes spiritual work in both ways : affecting the spirit or soul and concerning sacred matters. It becomes my prayer to make a revelation that is beauty. Nevertheless, it is not of pretension or ordeal judgment. I am an ordinary man who loves loving and revealing the beauty of old places and of people of different nationalities like locals, Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis, English, French... !
Contributor Layla Haroon