in conversation with: AURÉLIEN BOMY
Born in Nantes, Aurélien Bomy developed a taste and interest for the arts at an early stage. He is a clinical psychologist. In parallel with this path, he continues an artistic practice in various ways. Discovering and learning from other artists, he finds out how the use of tools that allow him to give a new impulse to his artistic work, in photography and in the creation of animated collages.
Starting street photography to keep memory of the feelings he had whilst walking alone in the street or travelling, Aurélien quickly understood that the result was completely different to what was expected because he was creating something completely new that didn’t exist before. Aurélien focuses on standing in front of strangers and shooting pictures of them in cinematic moments and environments.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in photography?
I am 43 years old. I was born in Nantes where I still live and I practice street photography. I developed a taste for and an interest in the arts very early on. My father is an amateur painter and I had the chance to travel as a child and visit many museums. I am a clinical psychologist. I work in medical hospitals and practices, and I teach this practice to students.
I have studied and participated in the work of a Lacanian psychoanalysis association, which has greatly enriched my interest in the arts and human sciences and has contributed to bringing precision to a look, to a living reading. In particular, I participated in editing and publishing work that led me to learn image editing tools. This gave a new impetus to my artistic practice, both in photography and in the production of video collages.
It was during a trip to Malaysia in 2013 that this taste for capturing moments of life in the city and urban environment was revealed, and I engaged in a regular practice of candid street photography. I first carried out experimental post-production (post-processing) of my photos on a principle of double-exposures, which led to my first exhibition. I then inscribed my practice in a local social link by investing myself in a photographers' collective and turned to a more classic production by seeking to perfect my shooting technique.
What does street photography mean to you? Describe your style. Where or how do you find inspiration?
Street photography came to me spontaneously, first of all as a practice, and as a way of telling, where words fail. I attach great importance to "story telling". I believe that in the framing and composition of a photograph and in a certain way of capturing subjects and characters in their urban environment, there is the opportunity, beyond the meaning or any message, to bear witness to the beauty and the preciousness of life. I think the mission of an artist is to re-enchant the world; or at least to counteract its disenchantment. I am very inspired by cinema, music, literature (poetry, theatre...).
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers?
I am very inspired by the work of the great masters of street photography such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Vivian Maier, Raymond Depardon, Fred Herzog and Saul Leiter, and today, thanks to social networks, I am in contact with many photographers whose work I admire, such as Vianditya Dewanata, Nicolas Millers, Matt Hall, Jaume Creus, Chris McCann, Kalil Ali, Philip Warp, Craig Whitehead, Shane Taylor, Ovidiu Selaru, and others. It's very exciting.
When you are out shooting - how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
Some of my photos, especially when it comes to scenes or situations, postures or attitudes, are snapshots that I capture on the spot without thinking. You have to act quickly. At first sight! For other photos (which make up an ever greater part of my practice), I organise a composition. Many of my photos are taken in my city Nantes, others were taken during trips (recently in Arles). More and more, I try to find the right place, the right spot, the best placement, the right angle, according to certain elements (shadows, lights, lines, perspective, cuts and patterns, points of view...) by thinking about the framing, the composition. Then I just have to wait for a subject to pass by this place to press the release. It is sometimes a work of patience.
What are some tips/advice you would give yourself if you started street photography all over again?
The advice I would give myself if I had to start again at the beginning of my practice would be: "Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Go alone! Walk the streets and take pictures! Make mistakes! Fail !... That's how you learn! Be patient! There is always something to learn!
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?)
I have been using a Fuji XT30 camera for two years and I am very satisfied with it. I discover its potential as I go along, according to the photos I take, and it's especially when they fail that I try to understand why and that I learn new settings that will allow me to do better next time in the same type of situation. I use an 18-55mm (equ. 25-80) lens and would like to acquire a 35mm (equ. 50mm) fixed lens with an aperture of f1.4 in the near future to gain in luminosity and to be able to work better on the depth of field and bokeh.
What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
My objective as an artist is to continue to learn, to discover and to create images in a certain freedom, according to the encounters I can make. This approach implies allowing the unexpected, the unforeseen, the surprise. It is also a question of not foreseeing too much, not programming too much.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
I have a rather precise taste for a certain form of aesthetics, of ambiance, of atmosphere that I would like to be able to approach. I find inspiration in many photographers and in many films by directors such as Wong-Kar Wai, David Lynch and many others...I would like to move my work in that direction by perfecting my shooting technique, my way of approaching subjects (working on the portrait), as well as my technique of using the equipment and my settings.
I would also like to link my photographs with other artistic media such as poetry or literature (illustrating a text) or associate my images with music. I would also like to work with video...all this requires time...
To be continued...
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
When I'm not out taking pictures, I like to read, listen to music, watch films, cinema, and share convivial moments with my friends and meet people.
Photography helps me in all this, because this practice is above all a work of the eye, of reading, a way of life.
Thank you very much Aurélien!
All photos © Aurélien Bomy
Interview Translation from French : Aurélie Lévêque