NEW – For more information, you can check out my recent interview for the “Street in colo(u)rs” group on Flickr.
Mysterious voice - “Hi, Simon. Besides blogging, do you have a real job?”
My primary occupation in life is doing scientific research. I am a scientist, and I specialized in the study of collective behaviors. I study everything that can form a crowd, a school, a swarm, a flock or a herd. Think of ants, football fans or legions of tiny robots invading the solar system, and you will have a pretty good idea of what I am interested in my research.
Mysterious voice – “So, Simon, why a blog showing your photos rather than a blog showing your scientific work?”
Science and art have more in common that most people would think. Both are at first a matter of curiosity and passion. Both require years and years of patient learning and unsuccessful experiments to master a subject (except for some gifted people). And finally, both associate a strong discipline with an intense creativity. In short, scientists are always a bit artists, and artists are always a bit scientists. What I present in this blog is therefore the little artistic side of my more generally scientific personality.
Mysterious voice - “I see. And what drove you toward photography?”
I’m a visual animal, I have always been attracted toward pictures. They are able to trigger emotions in me more than anything else.
Mysterious voice - “Sure, I understand you like pretty pictures. But why photography, and not painting for instance?”
I guess there are two main reasons. First, I grew up in a family were almost every adult person had a camera, most often a good SLR. Cameras are therefore familiar objects for me. Second, I have always been a bit clumsy. Painting fine details for instance is a real challenge for my shaking hands. Thus, photography was the natural choice for me.
Mysterious voice - “How would you qualify your photographic style?”
I mostly shoot street photography now. There are probably as many definitions of street photography that there are street photographers out there. I like to think of street photography as an artistic documentary approach to urban life. It is a form of documentary because it depicts real people in real situations, prohibits staging and posing, and is an attempt to understand the human condition. It is artistic because it does not necessarily tend toward an objective description of the world around us, and rather emphasizes the subjective point of view of the photographer.
There are two things that I love above all about street photography. The first one is the constant discovery. I can go to a place 10 times and it will never look exactly the same, it will never be exactly the same people, and they will never do exactly the same things the same way. I can’t get bored with street photography because there is always something new in front of me, even if this thing is not interesting per se.
The second thing I love about street photography is this feeling that I understand something about the place where I am and the people I meet there because I have been able to capture this fraction of a second where everything falls in place perfectly and they look magical. It doesn’t happen very often and the feeling may be just a wrong impression, but it’s what keeps me out in the streets so often.
Mysterious voice - “And have you other interests in life?”
Sports. I love watching and practicing sports. I have played handball for more than 15 years, I even taught this sport to young kids during several years. But now that I live in the US, it became almost impossible for me to practice handball on a regular basis. But let’s see the bright side of life: I now have more time to spend on photography.
Mysterious voice - “Thanks for your answers.”