“My pictures are often based on trivial matter and flawed subjects, but I try to express the emotional power out of them. I’m attracted to ephemeral occurrences, the idea of the in-between, the incomplete, hesitations, and serendipity. I collect those in a meditative approach.”
Fred Lahache (born in 1981) is a self-taught photographer from France currently based in Paris.
“My pictures describe the things that have drawn my attention, and put them into perspective. It’s a mixture of staged and found scenes, on the fringes of what is familiar, where some trifling moments can reveal their emotional power.”
Interview with Fred Lahache
Fred, why did you become a photographer?
I simply started photography as a way of expressing my sensibility, something I had less and less the possibility of doing in my regular job and that I was terribly missing. I could have tried that years ago and I didn’t, both because I was too focused on my job and because I didn’t think I was capable of doing something on the side. I feel lucky to have great people around me, and their support was decisive to start showing my work.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to say with your pictures? Or what it is at all that a photograph can transmit in your eyes?
I have no ambition whatsoever of bringing anything to Photography, I’m just glad if my images connect and have a language that communicate to some people. I’m actually more interested in what Photography can bring to me; since I’ve been practicing it I feel like a self-development is happening, and it has me make things I normally wouldn’t make.
What was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
“Some pictures I still have in mind, but will never exist, will haunt me for ages.”
I tend to remember the moments when I didn’t have a camera, or the times I was too shy to ask a person’s permission, as well as the times I’ve asked but didn’t get it. Some pictures I still have in mind, but will never exist, will haunt me for ages.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
William Eggleston has been from the beginning on top of the ones whose language speaks to me completely. Real beauty is not obvious, otherwise it becomes banal. It seems more interesting to me to look for it where it is less expected, or not to look for it at all and let it happen by itself. As you’re asking about inspiration, I think this answer is only up to me (and I’m not pretending my pictures can evoke Eggleston’s). If it was about influence I’m not sure I would have mentioned him, and photography would not be the only source to mention.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“What photography supplies is not only a record of the past but a new way of dealing with the present.”
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
My pictures are often based on trivial matter and flawed subjects, but I try to express the emotional power out of them. I’m attracted to ephemeral occurrences, the idea of the in-between, the incomplete, hesitations, and serendipity. I collect those in a meditative approach. Then in my edit, I keep the ones I find more interesting, and I arrange them elliptically into a dialogue that can also bring them to a new dimension.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
Understated colors are recurrent, and rather close framing. Both together is not what you see too often I think, it’s mostly one or the other most of the time. Soft colors give a contemplative mood which is a language that sounds familiar to me. There are some exceptions of course, some pictures are more colorful, but they stay coherent.
Close framing allows an isolation of things and creates a new context when arranged with others. But without contradiction again, I sometimes step back, too, and observe large landscapes because I feel touched by the solitude they evoke.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Initiative. Patience. And a car, that can help.
One of your recent projects is called “Mediterraneo”. How did you come up with that idea and can you tell a little more what it is about?
“From a passive connection, it became my actual experience of the Mediterranean.”
This series is a journey around the shores of the Mediterranean, where my origins come from. This element was omnipresent in my education, either on a cultural part with all the stories I was told, or on a more personal part with the summers I would spend year after year, that sea was definitely a member of the family itself. The series lets those territories dialogue freely together, and also develops the relationship I have with this identity now that I grew up, and have my own sensibility. From a passive connection, it became my actual experience of the Mediterranean.
At the beginning of each project one often has some kind of idea in mind as to what the result could be like. Sometimes that changes along the way and the result is quite different. Was that the case and if so what did you learn during the project?
It was the case indeed. I didn’t build it after a precise decision with specific dimensions to cover, as in a documentary way of working. To be honest, but I’m sure anybody can feel it, this series progresses as my trips go. But my feelings on the identity I have towards the Mediterranean is actually the biggest part, and this is what I hadn’t really planned at first, when I thought I would develop a thread rather close to one I did in Japan. And this is what surprised me, there was more to discover than I thought. Because I made it a personal therapy of sorts.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
“I like the idea of photography helping the photographer know more about himself.”
For the moment I have been pretty egocentric, as you can understand in Mediterraneo, or also Le Plein where I try to value bits of life that make me feel transported, while I didn’t go further than a car’s tankful. I’m very new to photography and those were starting points to begin with. Although these series will keep on developing, I will now try to think of new stories to tell. However I like the idea of photography helping the photographer know more about himself, so it is likely that the new works keep a relation to my life.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Naming just one is very hard. But I would mention www.jesuisperdu.tumblr.com because it is very diverse and very often updated. But of course it is a blog, and there are websites that develop their topics deeper and share interviews, studio visits, and show reviews. But I would get off-topic if I started naming them, then!
What photography book would you recommend?
It is not big news to say that, but I can’t think of anything more urgent to look at if you don’t know it yet, than Christian Patterson’s “Redheaded Peckerwood”. It’s a huge success and they (Mack) edited the third edition I think. The artist went on the traces of two young american serial killers in the fifties and the way his photographs, investigation documents and tearsheets are arranged together is fascinating.