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Interview: Photographer Guillaume de Lafontaine "DWAMPIX" (France)

Can you tell us a little about you?

Sure! Well I’m Guillaume, I’m 55 years old, I live in Bordeaux (France) with Laurence, my wife, and we have two grown-up children. For over 30 years, I have run my own business working as a creative and a multi skilled technician. My activities have mostly been related to media creation, like pre-print, audio and video production, internet and networks and for a decade now, I am a multicam director and streaming specialist for live events.

How and when did you get into photography?

Well my first memory with a camera goes back to when I was 10 or 12 years old in the 70’s. I can’t remember which camera I was offered but I was told about the basics how to focus and expose correctly. Photography was not yet a real thing for me back then. I had a camera and I could use it when I thought about it, essentially like in many families for portraits and souvenirs. Later when I was 20 or so, I bought my first real camera, a Canon FTb and a few lenses. It was secondhand equipment I bought from a friend who really also told me how to use it much better than I already did… It was the film era and he explained how to properly choose ASA for example. That’s also the time when I realized my favorite focal lens was 135mm which allowed me to shoot portraits at a distance. That’s also the first time I took a portrait I really loved.

What does photography mean to you?

It’s very tricky question and a lot has already been said about this… It really depends what you photograph and why. Sometimes it’s a way to show the truth, some other times it’s all about giving a personal and transformed view of reality. So I’d say it’s a way to express oneself in various and multiple ways for various and multiple reasons. Whether it’s art or not.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

I’m not sure I have a style yet. I consider myself a beginner as I only started to shoot seriously 4 years ago with hardly 100 photoshoots with models so far. Obviously I’m a portrait photographer with a natural attraction for fashion and glamour. I think my work is all about natural elegance and feminine sensuality. My ambition is to photograph strong and confident women who show great determination and fierceless expression and attitudes. No smiling, no seduction. Pure cold beauty ! And strong eyes ! Although I mainly work with beginner models, I try to make them look like they are “top models” or at least, like they are more experienced than they really are.

Where do you get inspiration from?

Mostly other photographers’ work, Peter Coulson being number one for me. I spend a lot of time online visiting photographic websites and publications, checking portfolios. I also love to watch tutorials and BTS videos on YouTube. I also believe movies and TV series have greatly influenced my aesthetic tastes since I was a child. I remember how elegant women were in Hitchcock movies … How strong and classy actresses were shot in the 50’s and 60’s… Without being an expert in fashion, I have always loved the evolution of style and clothing. For example, I loved watching the series “Mad Men” and “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel” as they both retrace with great precision the evolution of women fashion from the late 50’s to early 70’s. Very inspirational !

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?

I always prepare my sessions in terms of artistic and creative direction, styling, locations or lighting sets… I also create moodboards and meet my models prior to shooting to discuss the project. So yes, I always have a strong idea of what I’m going to do with my models. However, unlike some photographers, I cannot “draw” my photo in advance. There’s always a part of improvisation and a will to use unexpected opportunities while shooting. Should it be what the model does or how the light changes or whatever… Sometimes crazy and last minute ideas turn out to be great, sometimes they’re just crap. With digital, at least we can try…

Studio, on location or both?

Both. I started on location only before I realized I was most of the time looking for urban environments that made my shots look like studio work. Then I bought my first strobes and set up tethered shooting which is a fantastic way of working. My home studio is quite small but it forces me to be creative and that’s a good thing. So far, I like them both equally. I love the control we have in studio but I also like the opportunities we have when shooting outdoors with everchanging conditions… I’m always learning new things and I love it!

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

I don’t think this is a matter of “personal consideration”. In France, you are a professional when you register to be entitled to produce invoices to customers. It takes less than one hour, in regards to the law, to fill in a form that says that you are a professional photographer, even if you have never taken a single picture in your life and this does not care whether you are talented or not. Here pro equals business… Considering I do not make any money with photography, I’m a hobbyist photographer although I work with professional methods and concern. Thus I consider myself an artist and I’m glad that I keep full control about what I do with my camera. I can decide everything on my own and I don’t have to make any compromise.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

I wouldn’t keep a single memorable session. I’d rather keep memorable moments of many sessions. When the magic happens actually… When you see in the EVF what you wanted to see… Or when the light, the model, the situation create unexpected beauty and you are able to capture it. I also like to remember when my models say I managed to reveal aspects or attitudes or expressions they don’t even know they could have.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

I’m a Sony guy actually. Been an Alpha user since the release of the first a7S (which I needed for video mainly). Then I happily evolved with each generation. Today I use a Sony a7 IV. For photo I mainly use prime lenses, my favourite being the 90mm (SEL90f28G). I also have the 50mm f/1.2 (SEL50F12GM) which I started to use lately. And my studio being quite small, I need to use focals around 40/45mm for full length shots without wide angle deformation. I have tried many from Zeiss, Samyang, but finally got the Sony SEL40f25G I’m fully satisfied with.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

I really can’t answer this… I don’t know anything about commercial photography.

What do you think of our new magazine?

Well first I am going to sincerely thank the magazine chief editor, Peter Van Poucke, for featuring me. It’s an honor and a pride for such a beginner photographer like myself and it’s very stimulating to realize that my work will be exposed to such a large audience in more than 160 countries worldwide. I discovered Modellenland Magazine a couple of years ago when a model I was following got featured and linked the article on her profile. Since then I bookmarked it and frequently read it. I found it very interesting that a magazine would specialize in fashion photography emerging talents. I think the opportunity of being published is very important when you start a career or look for recognition as an artist. Such a magazine also provides inspiration from all over the world and with much more depth than social networks do. I also like that it shares the pages with togs, models, mua, stylists. This way we can learn from all participants of a fashion shoot project. Thank you Modellenland Magazine !

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