How did you become interested in street photography?
Street photography has naturally imposed itself on me, as something obvious. I am fond of documentary works, paradoxes and especially travel. So my interest in street and urban photography simply became evident to me, it comes naturally.
Where do you live? Do you mainly take photos in your own city? Where are your favorite places to shoot?
I am from the Walloon part of Belgium, from Liège exactly. This is mainly where I walk my camera.
Other than at special events (Brussels, Paris, etc.) 99% of my pictures are made within 25 kilometers of the house. It’s my corner, my street, my life, the people I meet every day.
Who has the biggest influence on your street photography?
It is not necessarily street photographers who influence me. I regularly follow the work of Ilan Ben Vehuda, Cyril Abad, Paul Bence, Dainaiza and many others. I discover influences every day. Today, for example, I have just discovered the photos of Alexander Zanin. There is also a collective of photographers the Kage Collective. But my real revelation comes from Martin Parr. I also like Suzanne Stein, obviously Salgado (The Hand of Man, my reference), Robert Franck, Depardon, John Vinck (This is not Belgium) you will understand later. There are a thousand of them…I sometimes forget.
Tell me more about the street parade in Brussels you photographed. At first glance, I thought I was watching the Burning Man festival here in the United States. Looks like it was a pretty interesting event.
This is the City Parade of Brussels. Each year, the country’s Gay population (mainly gay anyway, but everyone can participate) strolls through the streets of the city. Either on foot, or on tanks decorated and set up with good sound equipment. A great opportunity to party for open minds! I went to the rallying place, where the grand finale evening with several DJs was being prepared.
Often, when the crowd is dense, I put the eye into the viewfinder and walk through it. There, what happens, happens…I select, I slice, I frame. There are those who let me do, those who withdraw, those who voluntarily add themselves. I always leave the choice open. The faces and the bodies pass in the viewfinder and after 1h, 300 images on the counter…Really, these are the moments I like. Those moments when I think I take my time. Often, I exchange a few words of thanks with the most cooperative.
That day, in the eye in the viewfinder (a 16mm, it sees wide) just in my upper corner, a really recognizable shape appeared: a Leica. I raised my view up the arm that owns it and I remained frozen…everything stops! Like a fan who finds himself face to face with his idol of always. I stand up, I respectfully greet and he looks at me, wondering surely who is this clown! I had just met John Vink! It may sound stupid, but 25 years ago I had unlimited admiration for his work. To find myself face-to-face completely blocked me. If only I could have told him all the respect I have for his work …
What has street photography taught you?
I understood, thanks to the street photo, that you don’t necessarily need to travel the world to discover it, to marvel and wonder about it or even yourself. Everything is there, in front of us, just look. The worst and the best there intersect. Everything can happen at any time.
The street photograph removed from me this feeling, of all these photographers, who I was jealous of and who frustrated me, because of their amazing reports made at the other end of the world. Just out of a school of photography, at the age of 22 years, I had already seen many countries, cities (Istanbul, Marrakesh, Bangkok …). But I spent 20 years without making a single photo (not even with my GSM) from this frustration.
But today, by looking back at the objective, I realize that at that time I was already doing street photography.
See more of Pierre’s work on his Flickr photostream.