“I am searching the best balance between portability and quality of images. I try to manage the best way between spontaneity and the making of images that I precisely had in mind.”
Cyrille Weiner (born in 1976) is a French contemporary photographer, currently based in Paris. He studied photography at “Ecole Nationale Superieure Louis Lumiére”.
“I am interested in the uses and appropriation of places. I propose a free interpretation of geographic, urban and social issues through an artistic practice that calls into question the fictional and poetic power of the photographic document.”
Interview with Cyrille Weiner
Cyrille, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
Being fascinated by family photo albums is part of my earliest childhood memories regarding photography. I was 13 years old when I found a Kodak Retina Ia that belonged to my grandfather. Everything was manual. I got some explanations on how it worked by a photographic shop employee started taking pictures.
Why did you become a photographer?
I was passionate about images and photography. It was part of me since I was a teenager. After some economic studies, I had the feeling I would miss something in my life if I did not become a photographer.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is an intimate, sensual and sensitive relationship with the world and people.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
I do not feel much inspired by other photographers. Most of my references come from paintings and cinema. The photographers I admire most are William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Jeff Wall, Paul Graham, and Walker Evans.
“Often people ask what I’m photographing, which is a hard question to answer. And the best what I’ve come up with is I just say: Life today.”
Your favorite photography quote?
It is not a photography quote, but it is a good framework to understand my work:
“The value of cities can be measured by the number of places they leave for improvisation.”
Siegfried Kracauer, “Street of Berlin and elsewhere” (1964).
How would you describe your photographic style and creative process?
I start by making some kind of inquiries of places and their usages. Once the previews are made, I shoot with a deep observation of usages, atmospheres, changes of light and colors. The inclusion of people in landscape or architectures is either theatrical or choreographic. The way I edit and sequence pictures relates to movie editing. When editing, I escape from the documentary inquiries to introduce a more ambiguous relationship between reality and fiction. My printing approach refers more to paintings than photography, with chromatic selective corrections. I use formats that give a lot of details and realistic perspectives.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
It’s a question of time. I knew quite early the kind of images I wanted, formally speaking: colored, detailed, kind of naive. But the richness of meanings of the project come with the addition of several projects, the links between them and sometimes mixing them.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I am searching the best balance between portability and quality of images. I try to manage the best way between spontaneity and the making of images that I precisely had in mind. I used to work a lot with medium (Mamiya 7) or large format cameras and color negative. The negatives are drummed scanned to offer the possibility of selective color corrections on the computer.
I now work more and more with medium format digital.
Conceptually, the good balance between spontaneity and making/fabrication of pictures is not just technical. It is a relationship with reality and the subject that should show up in the pictures. It helps to create the ambiguity between reality and fiction.
The way I show the prints is conceptually interesting. I try to make places rather than exhibitions.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Mostly movies, and architectural or urban researches.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I used to work a lot with Mamiya 7 and Arca Swiss F line field view camera.
I now work more and more with digital Hasselblad.
I also take some personal diary pictures, previews or inspirational shots with Leica M6 or Contax T2, but they are a kind of private archives. I do not show them much. But I will probably work on editing them once in the future.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
Joerg Colberg’s Conscientious and Doug Rickard’s American Suburb X are great projects and sources. But I randomly visit them and other websites.
What photography book would you recommend?
I have no idea of books on photography. I recommend looking at monographs such as William Eggleston’s Guide, Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces or Uncommon Places. Classics!
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
I would just tell them to have pleasure in taking pictures and making projects, show them, give yourself time, and see what happens.