August 23, 2021
THE LIVES OF THIS CITY
Photography by Olivier Fardel
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Olivier Fardel is a passionate photographer from France, who captures fleeting moments of emotion and solitude in his images. His work is a celebration of the subtle beauty in the everyday – finding those remarkable characters that add a richness to the empty streets of Toulon.
Olivier’s photos are a window into the lives of those we pass on the street, capturing the loneliness and vulnerability of strangers in a single frame. He invites us to look beyond our everyday lives and find the beauty in every corner of our cities. His photos show us that even in moments of solitude we can find a connection with one another. Olivier’s work reveals to us that even in the most unexpected places, there is a beauty to be found. His images tell stories of moments of intimacy and resilience, as his lens penetrates beyond what we can see with our physical eyes. He gives us an insight into the lives of people who otherwise go unnoticed, and highlights their strength and courage as they move through life.
Join us as we take a journey through Olivier’s work – exploring his inspirations and motivations behind his photography. As he takes us into his world, we discover how he immortalises these fleeting moments forever in a few hundredths of a second, and how he reveals characters who seem very lonely but so visible at the same time.
“This series reveals characters who seem very lonely to me, too often but ultimately so visible. They parade in one direction, go in the other direction, come to meet us then move away and leave us. These men and women, who are they?
I started this series in early 2019 with a quest for these remarkable characters, often in bright colors, with a particular background or foreground that sometimes seems to play with their charismatic silhouettes. With a little poetry and tenderness, shadows and looks, this new episode of a dozen characters finally has a thirteenth because in this holiday season, particular in more than one way, it is important to not to be left alone.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH OLIVIER FARDEL
TPL: Olivier please tell us about yourself. What was that moment that sparked your interest to pursue photography?
OF: I have a university education and after that I followed a very varied professional career without any connection to photography. I live in Toulon in the south of France but I am from Dunkirk in the north. I am therefore imbued with a maritime city.
A personal event made me want to walk around with a camera to occupy my mind and not let my thoughts wander aimlessly. I began by photographing the maritime coast before leaving for the West Indies and Africa, where I realised that I was taking pictures of the urban activity. This particularly interested me.
I did not show my photographs until I realised they had to be live and therefore to be shared.
TPL: What does photography mean to you?
OF: First of all, it is giving importance to all things that interest me. It can be a particular emotion caused by a puzzle of elements, a contrast of colors or activity, a game between the different elements that make up the scene.
A few years ago, I had fun taking and sharing a daily photograph at 7:31 pm. Beyond finding what I could photograph at this precise moment, I imposed myself an additional constraint of always accompanying it with a title that had to be found in just a few minutes. I realised that titling or accompanying a photo with a short title or slogan allowed me to play with the image. This title is often a word game or a turn of word that echoes my photographic intention.
TPL: How would you describe your photography style?
OF: It is quite difficult to describe it...because I am as well attracted by the color as by the black and white. I try to give the subject of the photo a certain particular closeness to the viewer. If I don't walk around enough in the streets to have material for street photography, I photograph the nature of our garden, for example. I often use the black and white in order to play on contrasts and minimalism.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
OF: Harry Gruyaert is clearly my favorite artist. Probably because I find in the atmosphere of these Belgian, maritime and travel series, elements of my childhood and my life, but also because most of these published photos are taken during personal trips where his photographic research is permanent.
I also like the photos of Meyerowitz, Depardon, Erwitt and Jean-Christophe Béchet.
TPL: Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length? Do you spend a lot of time editing?
OF: I have a Canon 6D that I mainly use for photos in the personal circle of the sea, the mountains, nature and a Lumix GX8 for urban walks. I often use a 20mm with the Lumix which forces me, for my series "The lives of this city", to move around a lot to frame the characters as I wish.
I don't like to use the phone because it is too old to take good quality photos and allow me to shoot in raw format and thus do a bit of post processing before editing fairly short in time.
I love to ensure that my wife and daughter can thrive and marvel at the beautiful things in life and what I see through the lens.
TPL: The past year and a half has been tough on many artists. How have you been feeling through this time, both personally and as a photographer?
OF: Personally, fine. Having a garden and being able to continue working or teleworking were assets to live through these periods of confinement. We had a travel restriction that made walks impossible and at this moment I fell back on the lives of the garden. The situation opened up new photographic horizons for me.
TPL: What are some of your goals as an artist and photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
OF: I have no other goals than to continue to have fun and to arouse emotion, a smile or astonishment in the eyes of those who will want to look at my photos on my website. One day, it's true, I would like to exhibit to see those reactions and give more importance to messages that I sometimes try to convey.