What drew you to street photography initially?
Street photography is always available. Right there, on the other side of the door.
More seriously, the first photography book that I bought was “La photo” by Jeanloup Sieff & Chenz. Even if Sieff was a fabulous fashion photographer, he often shot his models in mundane situations and sometimes in the street. And one thing leading to another, my attention shifted to the french humanist photographers, Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Ronis, Brassai.
On the other hand, I am interested in the urban world, whether it be in terms of architecture, town planning or the use of public space.
In the end, my photography is somewhere between street photography and urban photography.
Black and white or color? What are your thoughts for street photography?
The above photographers shot mainly, or exclusively, “black and white”. So “black and white” is at the roots of my photographic culture. I do not remember who first put it this way, but “black and white” brings some abstraction and this abstraction distancing. That distance is often in accordance with my stance.
Nevertheless, color photography attracts me. Some photographers have an exceptional color work even if they started with “black and white”, Martin Parr for example. And many of the newest photographers work almost exclusively in color.
Color implies you in the picture and it corresponds well to the style of the current “street photography”. More and more when it seems appropriate, some of my photographs are in color, although for now my workflow is always based on “black and white”.
I really love this portrait:
I see you took it at a breast cancer event, but could you give us a little more background info on it? Did you ask this couple for their picture?
This portrait is not entirely in my style or my habits. It was taken as you noted during an action day in favor of the fight against breast cancer. In fact, it was during a photographic walk during which we were four I think. We spotted the lady and were ready to shoot when she told us that it might be interesting for her husband to be with her, and she offered to go and get him, which took ten good minutes.
Where is your favorite place to shoot?
I’m lucky, I live in Paris …
What has street photography taught you? (About photography, life, anything…)
Street photography taught me to be quick and not to bother too much about technical perfection. The human component prevails but may be implicit. Framing and composition are essentials.
More generally, photography is a philosophy: Reality is unique, Truth is multifaceted.
See more of Henri-Pierre’s work on his Flickr photostream.