interview in frame inframe trossat chrysalide youth france french roadtrip photographt documentary

Interview Théophile Trossat

This series is the result of a road trip with a friend, how all began and why?

With the friend Emilien Urbano, we were completing a photojournalism training course in Paris. Neither of us had a vacation schedule. My car was parked in La Rochelle, I had to pick it up at the beginning of July and I had a family holiday in Annecy scheduled for early August. I had no apartment, three weeks free and a Twingo. La Rochelle-Annecy is a beautiful trip crossing of France, I suggested to Emilien to come with me.

« The fact is that when you cross France in Twingo, in three weeks and without a predefined route, you always have stories to tell. »

Do you know already what you wanted in terms of photography or it comes during the trip? What camera did you use?
We knew that we were going to Annecy with the main idea of having a good time and meeting people. I had spotted a few more or less important events, festivities in some villages. We headed east and remained free to change routes at each roundabout, at each appearance. This lasted just three weeks. It’s made with a Leica m6 and a 35mm lens, Emilien had a Mamiya 7

I have the impression that at one point you stayed somewhere to capture the atmosphere, life, and youth of a village? an immersion in a group or community.
There were a few major moments, including two quite important celebrations in the Puy-de-Dôme and Haute-Savoie, but the images of the series were taken throughout the trip. We actually stayed three days in a small village, Celles-sur-Durolle, during the Saint-Anne festival. There were many young peoples and we were quickly integrated. We are rather friendly people and they were frankly welcoming. We slept the three nights at one of the village young’s houses and during the day we stayed with them.

Where does the title comes from?
This is the second day we found the title. We were in a leisure centre towards Royan and we could hear people screaming in the distance, « Christine! Christine! Christine! « they were looking for a young girl who had disappeared. This had not interrupted our photographic prospecting, however. Until we heard voices in the distance announcing the good news: « We found Christine! We found Christine! ». Emilian thought her name was « Chrysalide » (Chrysalis in french) and rejoiced that they had « found Chrysalide ». We had 3 weeks to cross France and we knew we were going to find Chrysalide.

« It was a long editing, the hardest part being to find the framework: once I had two/three images that worked together, it was easier. »

Do you have a particular attraction to the camera? is it interesting for you or is it just a camera, a tool like any other?

Most of my assignment works is done digitally for reasons of time and budget. For a portrait project I just got a Mamiya RZ, I also have a 4×5 large format, if I could I will use only that ones, but it’s expensive. I don’t have a fetish camera but different ones depending on the use.

How did you approach people? What information did you give them so that they would trust you?

I deeply enjoy meeting people, Emilian too. I know that every time we’re going to learn incredible things. The fact is that when you cross France in Twingo, in three weeks and without a predefined route, you always have stories to tell. We approach people by simply telling them about our journey. In general it makes them laugh, they don’t always understand the interest of our trip, but neither do we.

Is there a moment / a picture that marked you in this series? if so which one and why?
I don’t have a favorite image especially, but I like the softness of it. It was precisely at the Celles sur Durolle, during the petanque competition on Saturday. It had started raining, the young people smoked and drank beer in the cars, it was fun. I have the memory of a pure moment of youth, out of time.

How was the editing process after all?
I didn’t have the budget to make contact sheets anymore so I had to scan all the images, it took me a little while. It was a long editing, the hardest part being to find the framework: once I had two/three images that worked together, it was easier. We each edited on our own, to make two independent series. Then we were offered to screen them at the Night of the Year in Arles, so I made a video for the occasion. These images are not intended to tell anything other than a trip in France, I do not consider them independently of each other. I think it suits them well.

Isn’t it complicated to have two photographers on the same field? 
How did you manage it?
With Emilien we are friends before being photographers, we were there first to have a good time. The fact that we both practice photography comes after that. Besides, we didn’t necessarily have the same centres of attention. The problem came when it came to concretizing and producing an object with the images. They have never been published, only screened one evening in Arles.

Your top 5 photobook?
This is not a top 5 but quite different books that I like.

Martin Kollar – Field Trip
Philippe Durand – RTT
Robin Friend – Bastard Countryside
Olivier Cornil – In my garden the flowers dance
And one I don’t have yet:
Stephen Gill – The Pillar

Interview by Kalel Koven

Photographer’s Links: Website / Instagram
Link to the video « Chrysalide » by Théophile Trossat & Emilien Urbano