An Interview with Alexandre Deschaumes by Beata Moore

Alexandre Deschaumes is a French evocative landscape photographer. He is based in French Alps, between Chamonix, Annecy & Geneva. Alexandre’s interest in photography started in 2003; he is a self-taught photographer. His inspiration comes from the surrounding nature of Alps as well as many travels to wilder, faraway places. His photography is not only about great vistas but also about abstracts and nature details, he is however best known for his Alps extreme weather shots and atmospheric landscapes of Iceland. Alexandre’s attraction to wilderness and dramatic light combined with the dedication to the craft allows him to create outstanding images showing the ethereal beauty of places taken on his many solitary trips. His photographs have been shown at many exhibitions in France and in 2012 Alexandre co-directed the documentary film “The Quest for Inspiration” that won several prizes. He also runs successful photographic trips to Patagonia and Iceland and he is on the Open Jury Panel of Epson International Pano Awards 2016.

1. What was your path to become a photographer?
This was a very long process. Initially it started in childhood, when unfathomable fears, frustration and some kind of loneliness forced me to use my imagination to start developing my own world. My further transformation was about music – I improvised and composed when I was 16 years old. Later on, when I was twenty, in 2002, the photography followed.  I turned professional around 2008 when I started to sell pictures and lead workshops.

2. Do you prefer to photograph close to home or do you find faraway places more inspiring? Are there any special places that inspire you the most to create new work?
I like both. There are some very inspiring places I live in French, near Chamonix - sixt - Annecy, but I also often travel to the mountains of Patagonia, where I organize photographic workshops. I am most inspired when I am surprised or enthralled by the subject; mysterious forests and dramatic mountain shapes always catches my attention.

3. Are you a meticulous pre-planer or do you prefer creating images spontaneously? Do you revisit your favourite places many times to achieve the required result? Can you tell us more about your method of working?
I like to explore many faces of a subject or location. Visiting again and again the same places allows me to gain an indepth knowledge and feel of it. At the same time, spontaneity and beeing surprise by new vistas is very important to me. new view points I often go off roads and follow less known paths. Often when I intensly look for a special shot, I don’t find it. Magic happens when I least expected it and when I react instinctively to a view in front of me.

4. Terra Quantum displays themes and series portfolios; do you like working to the project/series/theme or find creating individual images more rewarding?
I prefer working on series of images. The cohesive body of work seems to me more important than one impressive shot. Portfolios allow me to show the uniformity of my approach.
5. Can you tell us a bit more about your 2 chosen photographs – what is the story behind them, when/why/how they were created?

Through this picture, I wanted to show the feel of mystery (somewhat ghostly) that I experience sometimes when I am in the mountains. It is a mixed feeling of immeasurable dimensions combined with a dose of reality. Often these sensations reflect my own fathomless fears and dreams. In this image, I also wanted to bring to the attention of the viewers the scale of the mountains as well as the amazing textures of the rock and clouds. This image was taken in Torres Del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile during the workshop in April 2014. I used here 300 mm F2.8 L II lens; the image was created by stitching 12 vertical images.

This image was taken in the same place and the same year in Patagonia. What I felt while taking it is really difficult to describe, but it lead to more of an abstract, because of the lack of sharp areas and no clear view of a subject. I saw a form of chaos, the birth of something.  A shaft of light through the clouds created a perfect play of shadows and light.

6. Colour, b&w or both? What do you prefer and how do you decide about the elimination or inclusion of colour and why. When do you decide about it - in the field or during the post processing?
I do both, color and b&w. The choice depends on the feeling of a place. I like muted underexposed tones as they help to create this special atmosphere I am always looking for.
7. Do you find printing your images yourself as an integral part of image creation or do you use professional labs? How important is the choice of paper for you?
I use a professional lab close to where I live. It is useful, as I can check test prints before printing big images. For large prints I use Digigraphie Epson printer. Paper choice is very important indeed. I love matte papers, especially Epson Hotpress Bright White.
8. Do you think that social media is killing photography or playing an important role in promoting your work? How involved are you in your online presence? 
I think it's both. Being present on social media suits my personality. I like the fact that I have my own space, but I don’t impose my presence on others. People can visit if they are inspired.  I concentrate on my work and communicate with others with honesty and simplicity. I think It's important to be visible, but at the same time not to be too aggressive. One needs to remember that social media represents life - there are many who take advantage without any principles; there are those who bother people with their annoying advertising, those who pay to be seen. All that because for some people photography is only business, for others, it is all about ego. It takes a lot of time and patience to find true hidden talents. So often we are snowed under and asphyxiated with fashionable pictures, with no real talent or individuality, as there are many who are good at marketing but not so good artistically. 
9. Do you have any plans for exhibitions, books or any interesting projects coming? Can you tell us a bit more about your artistic plans for the next couple of years?
I have many exhibitions planned for this year:
17th to 20th November 2016 at Festival de Montier en Der
29th to 30th September 2016 and 1st to 2nd October at Festival de Vourles
23rd to 25th September 2016 at Invité d'honneur festival de Barr
5th July to 26th August 2016 at Maison du Haut Rhone, Seyssel
I am also preparing a book, which hopefully will be published in September.
Later on in a year, I am planning some new travels and workshops.
10. We are living on the most beautiful planet, yet it is over-burdened and over-polluted. As photography is an influential medium, do you use the power of your photographs to promote our Earth appreciation and environmental awareness? Any thoughts how photographers in general can become more involved in this important matter? 
I don't really use my work in this way; for me it is more about the dreamy escape, the mystery and other evocative inner emotions. Still, my photography involves some wild landscapes, so I hope it also plays an environmental role to some extent. 



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