Rodolphe Simeon is a french photographer living in Canada. And this is not the only thing mixing cultures in his life: he speaks French, English and German.
The first time I saw his pictures was in the brazilian magazine Zupi,which I recommend to read or at least to visit its site. They defined his work as bizarre, agressive and violent. And that is true. Just take a look at the series of Street or the M-People and you have to agree with them: scissors, blood, abnormalities, sexuality and violence. A dangerous and attractive mix.
How did he begin with photography?
“In Oct 2005, I saw the documentary movie “War Photographer” about James Nachtwey. I was so in shock after it, that I immediately decided to go to the store to buy my first camera.”
He says he is influenced by classical paintings from Renaissance to the 19th century, with artist like Da Vinci, Jacques-Louis David, Wermer, Rembrandt, and Carabaggio. About their favorites photographers he said:
“Almost all of my favorite photographers are photojournalists— James Nachtwey, Sebastiao Salgado, Larry Burrows, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed…” And he adores Olivero Toscani and David LaChapelle.
The process of taking pictures is about randomness and to pull people to show their instincts off.
“I will go for a walk on the streets with no major plans nor goals”; “I have to say that some of my photos were taken in really short meetings”; “I let my intuition decide which way is the best”; “I try to catch the soul of people”; “During a photo shoot, I see things in people”; “I prefer to not think too much in order to let my intuition and feelings lead the process.”; “My role is to push models in different directions and to see how they react”.
About the technical process of photography, he said:
“I use Lightroom to transform RAW files to PSD. I don’t do any processing with Lightroom (not even the White balance). I do the entire post-processing in Photoshop.” Take mental notes for your next work.
About the differences between the street and the staged photography he states:
“The basics to my street photography are: 1) you do not decide on the context, and 2) you are constantly making quick decisions to produce powerful photos. My studio work starts by improvised movements or feelings.”; “ In the street or in studio, I try to take emotional pictures.”
The series M-People is clearly about violence. M-People means “Makeup-People”. He said about M-People:
“It’s a series about identity.”; “I use a lot of violence in my photography in order to maintain the identity of people.”; “People really love to mimic violence and murder.” “In today’s world, I see humanity completely lost.”; “For example, through Myspace, Facebook, Flickr, etc… people invent an identity for themselves everyday.”
He is very popular in Flickr.com, but he thinks is not the way to became an artist:
“A lot of people make that mistake; they think that being popular on the web will help them become successful with their art. From my point of view, it doesn’t work that way.”
About the topic of manipulated images he thinks that
“The photographer is constantly censoring his or her own work, and filtering reality to achieve a vision”. Ergo (in english, then), there is no real difference between an untouched picture and a manipulated one.
And finally I am gonna leave you a gift for your soul. He told a story about a thing I understand as a key in art: Be yourself no matter what you are.
“I once photographed a man whose face was seriously deformed. When I asked him if I could take his picture, he agreed immediately. As I went from looking at him directly, to looking at him through my camera, I was overwhelmed by his absolute self-confidence. He was completely himself, completely honest and sincere. At this moment, I felt that he changed something inside me profoundly. In a way, he showed me how you can exist by just being yourself.”
Visit Rodolphe Simeon site: http://www.m-peoplephotography.com