“I work intuitively and spontaneously, aiming to capture authentic moments.”
Virginie Noel (born 1977) is a contemporary photographer Belgium currently based in the UK.
For Virginie Noel photography is an important tool for self-expression.
“The focus of my work has always been on people, culture and identity.
Human emotions fascinate me, as well as the relationships of humans with each other and their natural environments.
I work intuitively and spontaneously, aiming to capture authentic moments.”
Interview with Virginie Noel
Virginie, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My first camera was a plastic toy camera. It was blue and yellow, and I remember taking my first photographs with it when I must have been about 10 years old.
I loved getting the prints back from the photography lab. I think my passion for photography started there.
Why did you become a photographer?
Because photography is the most direct and instinctive way I have to express myself.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is an enormously powerful medium to me, and it is an amazing tool for information, self-expression and sometimes, social change.
I see photography as a way to share my vision with others, and also as a tool to empower others to tell their own stories.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
My biggest inspiration must have been Diane Arbus.
Her passion and absolutely unique style fascinate me.
It is because of her work that I picked up a camera and started on the path to become a photographer. Her way of photographing people on the edges of society, and her sensitivity (and audacity!) in approaching people have been an important inspiration for my work.
Your favorite quote about photography?
“Take pictures of what you fear.”
How would you describe your photographic style and creative process?
My process is very intuitive. I relax into the situation, and let the magic happen.
All I have to do is be awake and keep my eyes open. I like to build relationships with the people I photograph.
My preferred type of work are long-term documentary projects.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
Trust your intuition. Take lots of photos, develop your own style.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Patience, respect and a good eye.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
There are so many ways a photo can be great!
For me the most important thing would be emotion – a photograph that evokes a strong emotion when I look at it is a great photograph.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
From the unpredictable, colorful and beautiful world we live in.
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I use a Canon 5d Mark II, as well as a Holga and occasionally a Hasselblad.
What book on photography would you recommend?
Diane Arbus’ biography.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Keep shooting, trust your guts and don’t give up!