IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANCOISE LERUSSE
Through a poetic and expressionist approach, Belgian photographer Francoise Lerusse focuses mainly on urban spaces and human built environments. Francoise graduated in French literature but worked for public radio and television before joining the advertising world as a copywriter. It was during these years she practiced photography as an amateur, having inherited the passion for it from her father. For Francoise, photography is a way for her to question what is the perception of reality. Lines and contrasts are emphasized giving maximum energy to her pictures.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your background. When and how did you start getting interested in photography?
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 Februray 2020 at Corridor Elephant Editions Paris.
Where do you find your inspiration?
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.
Is there anything you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
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. Some elements I am always trying to include are lines, rays of light, shadows, geometry. And also a certain sense of energy and movement. I always try to
transmit energy through my photographs.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
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.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
Do you prefer to shoot alone or with friends?
How does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
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.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
For the moment I am working on my next book, 'Chaos' based on a series I realised in Bangkok from 2017 to 2020.
Are there any books that you have read that have inspired your creativity and that you would like to recommend to us?
For the moment I am reading “Aaron Siskind, Another Photographic Reality”. While being involved in some major artistic trends of his time, Aaron Siskind was an independent mind. The way he created and followed his own route towards abstraction is impressive. He was very human too. The book about Henry Wessel by Thomas Zander was also important to me. Henry Wessel photographed in the street without practicing what is called today street photography. It helped me to evolve from street photography to something more personal. I also learned from Lewis Baltz's approach of architecture in the book 'Lewis Baltz' by Urs Stahel, David Campany and others. It helped me to go deeper in one of my main fields in photography and architecture.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
As a journalist, I reviewed rock bands, experimental music and video. While I have never been an artist myself I was a copywriter in the advertising world, it was sometimes was very close to art. I have always been to galleries and exhibitions too, all the time.
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
My main goal is to explore my creativity, it is my engine as a photographer.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
…Post-process, edit, think about new projects…. and enjoy life, sometimes!"