Revealing the Shadows
Portraits of the New Parisians
Victor Guérin is a French photographer based in Paris, he will be presenting portrait series of fifty foreigners living, working and being involved in the Paris that we know. Victor’s technique is a combination of analog photography, clair-obsur and light-painting without editing the photos.
On November 6th, 2014, Victor’s photographic series will be presented for Le Mois de la Photo 2014 at Les Récollets, a reformed convent part of Parisian’s patrimony. It is hard not to be touched by the social, human and artistic aspects of his work.
In 2009 I left France to go to Australia and New-Zealand for a year to try something new and this trip changed my life. While living there a really good friend of mine taught me how to use a camera in manual. Since then, I never stopped taking photos, days and nights, trying new settings, experimenting and that is when I decided that I wanted to become a photographer.
When I say ‘days and nights’, I actually spent more time taking photos at night time. It was a real surprise when I discovered that long exposure photography could show more than what you could actually see or create. Therefore I specialized myself in night time photography and light effect.
My idea of photography is to only show what I see or what I create while taking the photo without post production. At the beginning, long exposure allowed me to see in the dark and I used it to take photos of natural or urban landscapes But, If you have a person or an object in front of you and remove it while taking a long exposure photography you will end up with a seeing through effect on the person or the object. Still at night time, any light source can become a really fun way to add drawings, writings or a special lighting on your subject.
When I came back to France I kept taking photos at night and wanted to show my photos from Oceania so I started looking for exhibition venues. I had the opportunity to exhibit my first series in bookshop in Rouen (Normandy, France) and the owner asked me to exhibit another series the following month. This opportunity put me in a real creative mood and I ended up exhibiting a new series every month for a year. That also changed the way I was thinking about building a series so I started thinking about themes to explore.
After a year and a half in Rouen, I decided to go to Paris and show my work there. Unfortunately, I coudn’t be a full-time photographer in this expensive city so I went back to sales management while exhibiting some series through the two following years. One day, I woke up and I asked my boss to fire me because I was so eager to create a new series.
I never stopped taking photos while being a sales manager but it wasn’t the same. I actually used those two years to get closer to the analog photography world and when I got fired in February, 2013 my idea was to create something that I had never done before, an analog photographic series of portraits. As a challenge, I told myself that I will exhibit this new series at Le Mois de la Photo in November 2014 in Paris.
It took me a while to understand what I really wanted to do and it was while traveling for two months in the US, taking photos all the time that I discovered, deep down, that I dearly wanted to create a series about Paris and the Parisians.
My Parisians friends are almost all foreigners and it is this aspect of my city that I wanted to show. It was in August, 2013 that I did the first photo-shoot of ‘Revealing the Shadows – Portraits of the New Parisians’. Using my techniques, long exposure, Light-Painting, with my analog camera, it took me a all year to create the 50 portraits of this series. Because I wanted to make a real social, human piece of work I involved my friends in the photo-shoot. They had to choose ONE word that could summarize their life in Paris and they had to write it, with a flash light, while I was taking their portraits in their own apartments. Fifty Parisian foreigners, twenty one different nationalities, thirteen different languages spoken, fifty different photos about Paris and an amazing journey for me.
‘Revealing the Shadows – Portraits of the New Parisians’ will be exhibited from the 6th of November for Le Mois de la Photo 2014 in Paris for two months.