in frame inframe documentary photography photographer guillaume noury book photo personal contemporary black and white kalel koven valentine zeler

Interview Guillaume Noury

*For a better visual experience click on each photos to see them in their original format*

Tell us more about your series?
It is a collection of photographs that retraces a part of a man’s life, like an auto-fiction, I tell a part of the journey made of encounters, attempts, fears, sometimes wonder, fantasies, it is crossed by an allegory: that of the volcano as a father figure, which can be sometimes creative, sometimes destructive but always present.

How did you start this work? At what point did you feel that it would become a substantial body of work?
I don’t think that this project marked a beginning, it was a slow process: for several years I had been trying to tell my story through various series of photos, now deconstructed, entitled « the crossing », « trying the chrysalis », « the last days » and « waiting for everything to change », but they didn’t completely satisfy me, there were gaps. Before this publishing project, I was already looking for a more global series around this subject, at the time I called it: « the principle of the volcano », I felt that it could make a more consequent work because I understood that I was dealing with something that was dear to my heart.

« I have the impression of touching the essential, the very substance of things and beings more easily »

Why did you choose to do it in B&W?
Simply, black and white allows a clean break with reality and allows me to imagine without resistance. I try from time to time to take pictures in color without having found a satisfactory language for the moment, but maybe an idea of series will impose writing in color, for the moment I continue in black and white, I have the impression of touching the essential, the very substance of things and beings more easily.

Which camera and lens do you use?
Most of the time, I shoot with compact cameras with 28 or 35mm focal length.

« with each photo I asked myself, « do I feel it or not? « 

I read that this work was born by collecting archives to make a narrative? Tell us more about this?
I took the time to go through almost fifteen years of archives to select some 200 photos in a purely instinctive way, with each photo I asked myself, « do I feel it or not?  » This selection was given to the publisher Sur La Crête who looked at them carefully before starting some associations to propose me a first model which included 24 photos, I then went back in my archives to recover this time photos which could resonate with this first sequence, Jérôme Blin and Gaëtan Chevrier of the publisher then proposed me a new one and so in the form of back and forth the model was finalized little by little.

How did it all start? Who contacted whom and how?
The publishing house Sur La Crête is a young publishing house, it’s them who proposed to publish me, we already knew each other because we are all three photographers in Nantes, I was really excited to work with them, after a first time to determine the theme they came to the house to know my tastes in terms of book, format, cover, paper…

Then what was the working method between you? How long did it take before arriving at a final selection and an almost definitive model?
The book project took more than a year to materialize, we met on average once a month to share the progress: the selection, the associations, the sequences, the choice of paper, the title, finding the author to write the preface, the format… I did have to make some choices, about the paper rendering, the cover color, it seems to me that most of the choices were proposed to me before validation. It’s printed in Rennes at the printer Media Graphic. Sur La Crête editions are very careful to make their book in a responsible way and especially to make local actors work.

Is this your first book? What place does the photo book have in your mind?
This is the first book where there are only my photos (I have already participated in collective editions). Photography is above all an object: a print, a book… I like to make exhibitions and think of them like Sergio Larrain: an invitation to a meal, a moment of conviviality that is not made to last, the book will remain, so it is a completely different approach. Since this publishing experience, I tend to imagine other series more in book form than in exhibition form.

What are your influences in photography? Both at the beginning and now if it has changed ?
My first aesthetic shock was the book Transsiberian Kladij Sluban, it has not really changed since then, I still have a great admiration for his work. I also love worlds like those of Bernard Cantié, Trent Park, Masao Yamamoto. I could also mention Dolores Marat and Claudine Doury, photographers in color but monochrome photographers.

Your top 5 photo book?
Small things in silence – Masao Yamamoto
Bastiaraiso – Bernard Cantié
Transiberias – Klavdij Sluban
Exiles – Josef Koudelka
Minutes to Midnight – Trent Park

Interview by Kalel Koven

Photographer’s Links: WebsiteFacebookInstagram
Photo book « Terres Obsidiennes » published by Sur la crête Editions