September 28, 2020
Photography by Francoise Lerusse
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Imagination and reality often seem to lie in opposing positions, but for Belgian photographer Francoise Lerusse, this dichotomy can be unified through her lens. With her poetic and expressionist approach, Francoise captures the beauty of the human-built environment, and in doing so, boldly questions the nature of reality. A graduate of French literature and experienced copywriter, Francoise inherited a passion for photography from her father – a passion that she has pursued over the years, mastering the art of emphasizing lines and contrasts in her shots, gifting them with a unique and captivating energy. Her work is a testament to the ability of photography to bridge the divide between the imaginary and the tangible, inspiring viewers to consider the power of our collective perception.
“Most of the time when I am shooting I follow my emotions. The meaning appears later, not only through post treatment but also years after when working on series or viewing my archives. I can say that I see the world as a chaos, especially cities. I think that it is more and more difficult for humans to live in urban spaces. I find these beautiful and in the same time sometimes dehumanizing. At the end photography is a way for me to question the world we are living in.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANCOISE LERUSSE
TPL: Francoise please tell us about yourself. When did you start getting interested in photography?
FL: I am a self taught photographer living mainly in the South of France. I also spend time in Lisbon, Brussels and London. I was born in Belgium and after studying French literature there I turned to radio creation, TV journalism, film documentary and copywriting. When I was six my father who was a good amateur photographer offered me my first camera, a compact, and taught me the basics. From then I never stopped shooting. In 2014 I started to learn more seriously through online courses and workshops. I joined the association of photographers La Fontaine Obscure in Aix-en-Provence and started to exhibit my photos. I published my first book 'Dans les plis du vieux village' in February 2020 at Corridor Elephant Editions Paris.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?
FL: I find my inspiration mostly in the streets. The energy, the vibration, the architecture, people, everything is there. I am rather physical, walking is important to me, it awakens up my mind. Even in my house when I am thinking or searching new ideas I walk. Art and technology are also inspiring for me. I visit art galleries and museums as much as I can.
TPL: Who are your favourite artists?
FL: Lee Friedlander has always been a major influence. My other favourite are Josef Koudelka, Daido Moriyama, Irving Penn, René Burri, Harry Gruyaert, Henry Wessel, Gabriele Basilico, Paulo Nozolino, Raymond Depardon, Sébastien Van Malleghem. But I am also inspired by painters like Soulages, Chagall, Caravaggio, Spilliaert, Permeke, and Nicolas de Staël.
TPL: Where is your favourite place to shoot?
FL: The street.
Some elements I am always trying to include are lines, rays of light, shadows, geometry and a certain sense of energy and movement. I always try to transmit energy through my photographs.
TPL: How does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
FL: My main camera is an Olympus OMD-EM5 with an Olympus 12-40 mm f2.8 PRO lens. It changed the way I photograph. I started with a reflex and my photos were a bit static. With my hybrid I feel more free as it is lighter and more versatile. I can shoot through the screen and experiment new angles and point of views. It is also faster so I can better capture the energy. My comfort zone is 50 mm (or equivalent as my camera is a micro 4/3) but sometimes I also shoot 35mm.
For someone wanting to start in photography I would say: follow your style, your emotions, open your mind and your imagination, learn from major artists, stay away from trends.
TPL: Do you prefer to shoot alone or with friends?
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
FL: For the moment I am working on my next book, 'Chaos' based on a series I realised in Bangkok from 2017 to 2020.