- Please tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start in photography, and how did you develop your career?

-After being denied entrance to several art schools due to color blindness, I decided to become a painter or designer, and I bought my first photo... photography for me is built little by little, like a logic that suits me perfectly.

I took my first photos in 1975. The winds of the 1968 revolution were still blowing, but the beliefs and rituals of this world were still well established. We had just taken a cold shower, and we now knew that the old ways of doing things had to change.

I was young, very curious and did not hold back. A wind of freedom blew. I quickly realized that my Nikon was a passport to sneak into this world in transition. The street was the best window, and I took the plunge with my camera in North America and Europe from east to west.

No obligations, no orders…just seeing the world around me. I wanted to immerse myself in this society and convey my feelings, to understand what was frozen and what had changed. I delved into the details of situations, trying to grasp what sometimes escapes us. One must love human nature to devote so much time to it, and it takes time to understand these lives, these ways of transcending the ordinary, these absurd situations, but also this joy of living, this revolt.

Immersing myself in the lives of others allowed me to better convey tenderness, piquancy and intensity, full of humor and love. I was immediate and close, in contact and present with the people I photographed. There was a tacit acceptance, sometimes a look, a word that led to connivance, but the picture was already made. I floated lucidly and quickly into events like the wind.

My gaze is constantly on what surrounds me; I have to live with it. I go from photo to photo as time passes. I’ve never thought in terms of my career as far as my personal photography goes.

- You photographed a lot in swimming pools and by the sea. How did this start? What was so attractive for you about bodies in the water?

- Water has always been my element; I’ve always liked to swim for long stretches, devoting hours when I'm in the sea, the happiness of being calm, this vision at the water's edge, to feel my body in this aquatic movement where I am melting, since I was very young...holidays by the sea, and later in pools. At the time, it was at fun places where we were hanging out with friends; we stayed there for hours, not necessarily swimming; we met lots of people. It was noisy and lively, and with my diving goggles I could find peace under water. I could hold my breath for a long time, and I was able to discover these bodies relaxing in the water.

I started taking photos around the Evreux pool where I lived at the time; I ventured in, holding my Nikon over the water, but I did not feel quite at ease making these photos.

In the summer of 1984, Christophe, a Parisian friend, joined us at the Evreux pool with a small amphibious device, the Baroudeur (HDS) manufactured by Fujica for families on vacation. A wonder, which could go down to five meters of depth, and with quite beautiful optical quality. I borrowed it from him for the entire summer, and then I had four that did not leave me for 30 years.

With the Fujica, I was finally at ease to mingle with the swimmers, both on the surface and underwater. I followed these bodies that floated suspended, others wandering, intermingling in a slow ballet, unveiling their unconfessed sensuality in this watery world. My gaze slid into this aquatic intimacy as free as the water!

- Many shots are from a very intimate distance. Did you ever have trouble by getting so close to half-naked people back then? How would people generally react?

-Whether it is in the street or in a swimming pool, I go for the essentials; it is the people who interest me, and my photography takes place in a zone between 1.5 and two meters. It is a zone of tension; people either perceive me or do not pay attention to me, everything happens very quickly. What guides me are the acts and expressions that reveal a situation, entering the perimeter of the life of these people.

I remain as neutral as possible. I do not release any complicated, negative waves. I feel the frame of my picture and trigger it instinctively. It's a game of thousandths of a second, where the consciousness has to be preceded. We are in the presentiment and experience of this fleeting photo. I never have problems with people; sometimes I’ve had to speak with them for a bit, but it is rare. It all depends on your behavior. You have to be master of all these situations; do not hesitate.

For the photos in the Molitor pool where half of the women had bare breasts: These photos were made in the 1980s, when people were freer. No one asked me about my presence, even the lifeguard...but times have changed; we cannot even make photos at municipal pools any more!

- What was your approach for this project? Were you there to enjoy yourself like your subjects, or would you go exclusively to take pictures?

-These places of water are a pleasure for me; I love to swim, and I cannot help but see these images, so I go for both.

- Your water work often mixes daring and graphic compositions with a certain joie-de-vivre. Were you influenced by other photographers when you first started? If so, who were your heroes?

-I have always valued the richness of an image, of the dialogue that it can have with the person who looks at it, of the graphic sense to allow the viewer to better read it. The first shots are in close proximity for the most part, and the others tell other stories in one image.

My vision has been informed by the freedom and involvement of photographers like Robert Frank, Danny Lyon, Bruce Davidson, Roy DeCarava, and Garry Winogrand.

-You started as a photojournalist. How would you reconcile your professional and personal work back then? Would you shoot in different ways for each?

-The photojournalism came with my work in the press, but I first realized images just for me and my feelings of the times I experienced. The main thing for me is to have taken these photos, to have had my eyes open to the world. I have pursued several projects for more than 30 years that are only now beginning to be shown.

The orders of the press are a straitjacket, a state of mind adapted to fill magazine pages; they disturb my eye, and I had the feeling that I had to wash myself and empty my head in order to resume the course of my photography. It takes total freedom to get closer to oneself and to make one's own photographic work.

- You also have a book about Rockabilly in France in the 80s. How did you come up with that? What was your relationship with those guys?

-My status as a photographer at the local weekly in Evreux, La Dépêche, as well as my interest in them, contributed to make me accept the offer. They probably investigated me...I followed them with a journalist-friend, Yves, but to make the photos I had to spend more time alone with them. This time allowed us to know each other better, and I think that after a while I became part of their decor with my Nikon F. I could forget myself, become almost transparent while being very focused on my images, but I know how to speak when it is necessary and then disappear again quickly. The link was woven quietly...I could go home, photograph their rooms and sometimes have lunch with their parents. After several weeks, they used to warn me when they were going to do something. The sessions at the hairdresser were important, the salon held by Mr. Tuffier, who with glasses at 70, a goatee and decked out with a large floral tie, was the great magician, an artist!

I am like a sociologist; I made connections, I spent a lot of time with them, and I was interested in them, but I kept my distance. I saw some of the guys from that time at the release of the book in 2016, and it is almost like their bible. I enjoyed sharing this story with them!

-I read that only in the past five years you've been looking back at your personal work, is that right? Is there a reason for that? What are you discovering about yourself by revisiting your archives?

-After I stopped working for the press in 2007, it took me a few years to find myself, get back on my feet and regain my calm.

It was in 2013 that I began to view my archives, which I had almost forgotten, but which also represent my deep investment in photography and the eye I have focused with for several decades. These photos have never been shown, but for me, the main thing is to have made them. The first series that I presented was the set made at the Molitor pool in 1985.

These photos have proved unique in the history of the pool as well as from a rare point of view in close proximity to the people photographed. They reveal a time that surprises with its ambient freedom and a kind of Dolce Vita of the 1980s.

The photos were published by M of Monde, IVogue USA, presented by the Agnès b Gallery of the Day at Paris Photo, as well as the Artcurial gallery in Paris, and published by The (M) editions in the form of a Book of Art. Polka magazine just made a portfolio this summer (2018) with these images, and the Gallery Hegoa is currently holding an exhibition.

I see that my work contains a great intimacy; this has always been how I take photos, but I was not always aware of it. When I’m showing photos or speaking around my exhibitions, many people ask, "How did you get so close?"

- Are you now dedicating yourself entirely to your past work, or are you working on something new these days?

- I spend a lot of time managing my archives, but it's a pleasure to update these images, so I proceed by series!

Having put forward these images and the spirit in which I realized them sharpens my current glance and my desire for an even closer vision, to be in on the human details of the street; Mark Cohen is one of the better examples of this almost tactile approach.

Since 2014, I have realized some Polaroid work at the Molitor pool...the rules have changed, and I have to come with people I’ve asked, but the series will continue. Polaroid Originals decided to help me with this project; it's very stimulating!

I have been doing research since 2015 on the body and water in color; it is a pictorial series on the edge of abstraction (my only work in digital). This visual research is part of the long-term work I’ve been pursuing since 1984 in b&w.

I started working on Look Rock in b&w with a medium format camera, and I started shooting England again in 2017 with Kodak TriX after shooting there in the 70's and 90's.

I always work with a very strong dynamic, like a young photographer of 25...but with murky intentions.

You can see more work of Gil Rigoulet on his website and on Instagram

Photography and Personing

Daido Moriyama busy not personing in a Shinjuku bar. Photo by the TC Lin.

Writen by TC Lin

Are you into photography? Do you like to person? Do you like to do both at the same time?

When I say “into” photography, I don’t mean someone who has/desires a great deal of gear, or someone who knows all the best places to find the best birds/orangutans/fire escapes, nor am I talking about dudes who take thousands of photos of women models in studios and random parks. I’m talking about people who are afflicted with the condition where they can’t not see photographs everywhere they go, even if they don’t have a camera at hand.

Another group I’m not talking about: Those who “got into” photography when it became the hot thing with the popular kids a few years ago (featuring skateboarders, that oft-used demographic every large corporation knows is perfect for bringing “the youth” into the fold for effective consumerism). I won’t waste my time because soon enough you’ll be saying things like “I just haven’t had time to go out shooting” and “There’s just nothing going on here” when something else comes along. Whenever I hear those phrases, I recall my ophthalmologist’s advice that I really need to stop rolling my eyes. Just admit it: You are not really into photography. But hold up: That’s great! It’s not an insult; it’s a compliment. Congratulations, because, as it turns out, being really into photography (as opposed to being a professional photographer, which is often a different thing), can be rough.

What could I possibly mean by this? Isn’t “everyone a photographer” these days? Don’t most people have a capable camera in their phone or around their neck? How do these people people, as it were?

Let’s say you are with other people. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking, eating, in a car, on a bus, in a meeting, having sex, or paragliding, or all of those at the same time (which admittedly sounds like one hell of a party). Do you remain committed to maintaining your interaction with them, or do you remain open to all of the potential photos happening around you?

Most normal people opt for the former. Obviously. Even in the unlikely event that you can engage with your companions as well as paying sufficient attention to your surroundings, what happens when a photograph become apparent to you? Do you maintain eye contact? Try and keep the conversation going? Think up an excuse to leave suddenly?

Again, for most people, the conversation is their literal focus. Most non-photographers, regardless of the photographic machinery they may have on hand, aren’t even looking. Of those who are looking, most ignore it. Of those who can’t ignore it, most watch helplessly as the photograph disappears while they try to keep their attention on the other people. Of those who make an attempt to socially disengage in order to make the photograph, most will be too late as well as flustered from resisting the ancient DNA-level code of Not Being an Asshole to one’s tribe. And those who just go take the damn picture are of course rude, self-centered malcontents who think their so-called “art” is more important than the actually important matters their companions are earnestly discussing with them at the time of the aforementioned abscondment.

“But TC,” you say, “I’ve found the Perfect Friends/Significant Other who is perfectly fine with me shooting anything I want at any time!”

That’s great! I’m sure they’re very nice, lovely, accommodating people who are really into you, and willing to put up with this behavior in order to be around you. I’m jealous, truly I am. Perhaps they even point out little scenes they think you’d be interested in, even though you aren’t because they can’t actually know what you see, and by the time you’ve followed their pointing finger and excited, slightly patronizing tone that of course has alerted the denizens of said scene to your attention, it has vanished. But I’ll bet a reasonable amount of money that they in fact hide their dismay when you display in a most abrupt fashion how much more devoted you are to some imagined, phantom scene than you are to really being truly “with” them.

That they’re willing to go through that for you is admirable. But perhaps, just perhaps, they’ll eventually get to wondering exactly why you can’t deny yourself this stupid photography shit in order to be with them. It’s not like you’re exactly famous or really any good at it. Which is most likely true, because in their eyes you can’t be good until you’re famous, and becoming a Famous Photographer is not only nearly impossible, it almost by definition disallows continuing to be into photography, because you need to person. If they don’t want you to give up photography for them, they will almost certainly try to steer you into a more lucrative, “useful” form of it. Again with the personing, extreme personing in this context, because lucrative photography is generally more about the lucrative part than the photography part. Can you schmooze? I mean, are you really good at it? Here, I’ll just take that camera; you won’t be needing it. Your attention is elsewhere. Go person.

This condition, of being disconnected enough from the tangled skeins of social obligation in which most people are ensconced that you are able to readily observe the things around you, can wear you down if you let it. Someone is always in the way, if not physically then mentally, assuming that you are engaged in the conversation or whatever else that may going on. People see you as off in the clouds somewhere when you are actually as present in the world as they are, just in a different way. They don’t notice the man quietly sobbing in the corner, the cat perched precariously on the railing, the estranged couple maintaining an awkward distance in the park, or the factory lazily polluting the river. And you don’t notice the latest gossip, that thing we have next week, or that horrible insult someone said that might mean something else. You’re there, but not in the “right” way. Not for personing.

Some extremely talented photographers in the past have obviously been the kind of “difficult” individuals I’m talking about, but by definition and due to survivor bias, the ones we know of are the ones who had special ways to deal with it. Many, such as Cartier-bresson and Eggleston, were independently wealthy when they started out, and just DNGAF. Others like Robert Frank, Eugene Smith and Garry Winogrand failed spectacularly at maintaining the relationships in their lives.

Of course there are many successful photographers who are friendly, engaging, well-adjusted individuals with happy friends and families. That’s great. I’m happy for them…mystified, but happy. The rest of us are left with a sense of not quite belonging to the world we are so intent on observing because, were we capable of belonging, we would no longer see it. Some of the photos resulting from this state might happen to be interesting, but nobody will know or care because we cannot person*.

So what can we do? Don’t worry; all is not lost. While we may not be able to ignore the draw of photography, we might be able to control how much we care about superficialities, things that are on the surface at least tangentially related to this Thing We Can’t Not Do, but in reality just drag us down…things like social media addiction to likes and faves, trying to be noticed and published, things like gear obsession and one-upsmanship. Take that time and use it better; instead of clinging to the impossibility of being universally adored, try to make friends with a few like-minded souls instead of just anyone you think will advance your social status. Recognize, explore and embrace your own instincts and inclinations. Be there for yourself. Person for yourself.

If we simply value being as open and genuine as possible, we might stand a chance of getting through all this with some semblance of sanity. And maybe, just maybe, collect a few good shots along the way.

*Of course, if you’re “lucky”, after you’ve died someone might buy your photos at an auction and “discover” you, now that your difficult ass is safely beyond having to deal with.


Who are You?

Hello, my name is Andy and I work part time at my local hospital as a clinical educator. I come home to a lovely wife, two beautiful children and a whippet called Woody. Photographically, I’ve been obsessed for the past 8 years and was over the moon to release my first book, Incidental View, published by Camera Infinita last year.

What was the trigger, or inspiration, that led to your taking up photography?

My wife bought me a Panasonic LX5 as a wedding present in 2010. After taking three or four sunsets and a couple of flower macros I quickly found that I was drawn to shabby urban landscapes.

What do you hope to communicate or describe with your work?

The human condition, emotion, humour, birth, life, death… The finer points of the narrative are left for the viewer to fill in, as ambiguity is also an intentional piece of the puzzle. I hope to convey a surreal sense of wonderment at the world around us, but with a niggling disquiet forcing it’s way into each frame.

Has your relationship with photography changed over time, and if so how?

It has been many things to me over the 8 years I’ve been shooting. Photography has aways had a role as an escape route I can rely on, but in recent times it feels like it has, on occasion, saved me from the brink of my own sanity. It pleases me to say that the choppy seas are beginning to calm now, but I have come out the other side with an even deeper and more respectful relationship with photography.

Select 3-5 (or some number we agree is appropriate) of your photos and talk about how they came to be and how they reflect your working methods.

Dolus D'Oléron 1

I rely on luck, a comfy pair of shoes and a very forgiving wife to make my work… my modus operandi is usually to disappear from family life for hours on end, following my nose and documenting things of interest on the way. I often come back with nothing of note, but I’m fine with that; if it were easy to make photographs that appeal to me, I’d get bored of the process very quickly. For Dolus D’Oléron 1, I’d been out all morning with very little to show for it and on the drive back to our holiday home, I caught this scene out of the corner of my eye. I was fortunate that nothing was behind me as I slammed the breaks on in excitement.

The next image, Billy Bob’s 2, is a shot I took when going for a meal with family and friends.

Billy Bob's 2

When pulling into the carpark I noticed the fantastical scene of a large shed (at least I think that’s what it was!) all wrapped up in plastic sheeting. I had to capture this surrealism, however my framing was hampered as there was a myriad of farm yard machinery and hay bales behind the enshrouded shed. To clarify the composition, I moved in closer and crouched down in order to conceal the distractions behind. Finally I waited (and waited) for the sun to peak out from behind the clouds; patience is a virtue after all! It turns out to get the minimalist composition I wanted, I also had to stand right in the middle of a patch of squelchy mud and go to dinner with soggy feet!

Great Yarmouth 3

I’ve mentioned that I rely heavily on luck, and whilst this is true, I also believe we can create our own luck a little. By shooting at every possible opportunity and only showing our very best photographs, I think our chances of making compelling work is maximised. For Great Yarmouth 3, good old fashionedluck was definitely on my side. I was composing the sand dune with no knowledge of the fishing boat that was about to enter the frame. As I saw it moving along the horizon, at first I was frustrated as I thought I’d have to wait until it passed, then the lightbulb lit up in my head and I began to grin from ear to ear. Without the alluring streak of lights the image would probably be useable but ultimately forgettable… but with them, it is one of my favourite images that I’ve ever taken. A moment of minimalist serendipity.


Another photograph that was the product of right place, right time is A45. I fly out the door at the first hint of fog for two reasons; the first is subject separation and second is the claustrophobic undertone it adds to the image. Here I was, firing off a few frames under one of the flyovers in Northampton, when the fog began to lift as the morning sun forced its way through. The effect was both magical and fleeting, for two minutes later the fog was gone… but I had managed to capture one of my most well received images ever.

Weston Favell 8

The last image I want to talk about, Weston Favell 8, illustrates one of the things I really love about photography, i.e. the capability to record a scene in an unfamiliar way to that of the human eye. In reality this area was very dark, but as the camera exposes for middle grey, it attempted to make it daytime. A little overexposure in post-production (as I almost always do by half a stop or so) and we have something that is far more appealing (to me) than how my brain originally processed the space. Tinkering with long exposures, flashguns or whatever to create new realities is something that provides endless creative fodder for me. I think this shot also represents a turning point in how I construct a photograph, as prior to this, I would tend to approach subject-matter with a highly reductive, minimalist approach… as can be seen in Billy Bob’s 2. This photo kick-started the desire to consciously add more elements within the frame and in doing so, hopefully generate more complex, enduring narratives.