It was a long awaited exhibition of Veronique and I was thrilled a lot to speak with her about photography. We were speaking through Skype, as she lives in Paris and me in Rotterdam. Fortunately, the distance is not a problem our days.
We have recorder a very interesting discussion and I have found out many interesting ideas in Veronique words. Sure in the interview with Veronique de Suerte, you will find out the original thoughts.
Alexey Shifman: Hello. My first question is very simple. How did you start with photography? How did you find the photography for yourself?
Veronique de Suerte: Hello, Alexey. I have started with arts when I was a kid, that time I was drawing and painting a lot. Around age of 12 I understood that I cannot draw all what I see and that has made me particularly frustrated. At that moment I was in love with sunsets. Thus one day I have decided to make a photography of the sunset. I got my first camera. There was nothing special in it. I have started to learn everything by myself and year after year I was trying to realise what I had on my mind. Majority of time I was learning by myself, through the books that I still have.
After my arrival to Paris I have continued with photography. I was following the workshops and professional training. That has helped me a lot to figure out the technical side of my work.
AS: I also know that you have the music education. For my own experience in music harmony is playing a major role. Did you ever thought about influence of music to your photography?
VdS: Absolutely so. While taking a picture, I always have a melody on my mind. Especially at the stage of postproduction. There is always music playing. And for every particular picture, I have a particular music.
Linking element between harmony and the picture is the photographer himself. For example the jazz music. It is always that small step aside from the harmony that is triggering you, photography is the same. Like the classic photo it makes you feel you good, but not capturing or intriguing you. I think the greatest photographers are those that can bringing the discomfort elements to the photography. Such element brings you to the mood of photographer.
AS: By the way, do you have a favourite photographer?
VdS: I cannot say that I have such. I do not like putting names and creating idols. However, I find Robert Doisneau very inspiring, his black and white pictures of Paris, especially the most famous one, Le Baiser de l'hôtel de ville. That’s the spirit of Paris. I like emotions in the photography in general, and in these old pictures especially. I think photography is very personal. Like painting. Everyone can see and make a picture of the Eiffel tower, but there are few photographers that made such a work that you have never felt that way. That’s my vision and my philosophy. I truly think that a picture should make you feel.
AS: When you think about yourself as photographer, how can you define your style?
VdS: In majority cases I like playing with colours and light to create a mood. I’m particularly in love with night photography. And the night photography itself is all about colour and light. It is one of the most difficult type of photography, because you need to know your camera and feel the light around you. But in general I do not know if I have a particular style. Lets viewer decide if I have a particular style. I would say I have a particular view. I try to see the things from the different angle and to pay attention to the details. I enjoy small things inside of big picture. I want the viewers discover these elements and spend time on it - make a travel inside of the picture. I encourage viewer not only to have a look and forget afterwards but I force the challenge to make him feel something and remember this new emotion.
AS: I remember, during your exhibition this process was happening. Guests were looking your works first from the far and after approaching to see it very close, mostly touching the glass with the nose.
VdS: Yes, I saw it as well. And it was a very enjoyable opening and people were following my path and trying to see these pictures with my eyes. Talking about this particular exhibition about Istanbul I think it was like small windows to that world. People were traveling with my photography and seeing something through these windows. And after getting curious, they were trying to approach it again and discover. It was my idea of this photo series and the exhibition opening was a very big success.
AS: I wonder, do you see yourself as street photographer?
VdS: I do not think that I am doing street photography, in the traditional vision of it. I think it is more urban photography. In reality it is about travel photography, there is a lot of traveling involved and I like it. Indeed, my works are not the pictures from my holidays it is about sharing emotion that had marked me. And I want to share it. It is this kind of photography.
It is like about Timeless Istanbul exhibition, people were approaching me and saying: “I have never been there, but I would like to go”, or “I’ve been there before, and after seeing your pictures, I feel like I travelled again”. For me it was the biggest compliment.
AS: Sorry for such questions. Personally as a curator I wish to extend the vision and understanding of street photography, and how street photography can be. And with your exhibition I wanted to show life of Istanbul not from political or sociological aspects but more the wish to transfer the street wipe, which is steel part of the street photography.
VdS: I think people know street photography in a very limited way. I mean they believe it is black and white, high contrast, kind of unhappy people. Street is much more than that.
AS: What kind of advice would you like to give for the street photographers?
VdS: If I need to give an advice, I would say, first of all, challenge yourself: do not be shy, do not think too much, you need your inspiration to go out. Try as many times till you succeed and if it takes 10 times, 20 times, 30 times – you will definitely succeed. Just open your mind and your eyes to look around. Work on your view, because what makes you unique is your view. That is not the camera or lenses. That is your composition and your view. If you have one, just move on and try to be creative with your photography.
AS: Thank you Veronique for such beautiful answers. I liked it a lot.
VdS: Thank you.