Welcome to the second featured photographer in the Amateurs Series, a regular column that looks to place the spotlight on those who often don’t receive the attention that is deserved. Once again this week I’ve gone to the local photography community and am proud to introduce Guillaume Bouvier.
Guillaume, welcome to the blog. Can you start by giving a brief introduction to the readers?
I’m a French guy who currently lives in Taipei. I used to work in sales, about electronic products. My activity in Taiwan remains a mystery. Even to me.
How long have you been into photography?
I’ve started to really get interested in it about 5 years ago.
What got you started in photography?
My first contact was probably my father, who used to, when I was a little kid, take and develop his own photographs, with some exotic gears. As for me, my very first attempt was at school, as I was in an art school. While most students were busy at drawing and painting to tell their stories, I was sadly not talented with my hands, and had to find other ways to still have something to show. So I’ve started to take pictures and digitally process them as a homework. A couple of years later, I was hired to sell televisions and movie players. Some of my coworkers were cinephiles, thus interested in photography in movies, while we were neighbours with the photography booth. Amongst these guys, there was a film photography teacher, and one who quit to become a full time art photographer. They definitely got me interested in photography again. When I’ve decided to leave my country to live my great adventure, I’ve decided that photography will be my way to communicate, with my friends and family, but also with the local people as a universal way to tell my stories. The positive reception I got from my first trip’s pictures was overwhelming and got me started for good.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
I’ve always been in digital camera only. I’ve learned the basics with a point and shoot Canon G11. Today, I use a full frame DSLR, it’s a Nikon D600. I only own prime lenses. A 14mm from Samyang, a Nikkor 28 mm ƒ/1.8, and a Sigma 85mm ƒ/1.4. I started to use my DSLR with my father’s vintage manual lenses, a Vivitar close-focus 24 mm and a Nikkor 50 mm, but I don’t use them much anymore, because they need a lot of light, aren’t that precise, require to change the settings every time I swap lenses, and there are too many situations where manual focus isn’t convenient at all. I’ve got a tripod but I almost never use it, and I don’t use any extra light source. Because it’s digital photography, I shoot in RAW format and develop the pictures through Lightroom. It’s a very important step in my process.
What styles / subjects do you feel most comfortable with?
I feel comfortable when nobody is watching or expecting anything. I like to take my time. I hate bothering people, and I can’t even remember how many situations and faces I refrained to shoot because I didn’t want to bother or offend people. I like cultural topics, so when I’m in a taoist parade, I feel in my element and can stalk it for many hours. I also like to work on geometry and texture.
Where do you see your photography going? Will it always be a hobby, or do you hope to make some money from it one day?
I honestly don’t know. I received many heartwarming praises, from family, friends, but also from random people on the Internet. Will it lead me somewhere ? I don’t know. I’d feel blessed to see my pictures elsewhere than in my home and my Instagram and Flickr. But I’d be scared to make it a real job, because I can’t control my inspiration at all, and I’m still far from knowing what shot will be worth showing before I actually see its potential during the post-processing phase.
Are there any challenges you face when taking photos?
I am always scared of offending people so I really refrain myself a lot. Other than that, carrying a DSLR isn’t the most convenient thing. It’s heavy, and as soon as people notice it, they expect me to take great photos of everything, including themselves. That’s embarrassing, because I hate to take pictures of people waiting for me to adjust my settings, and expecting a great output. I’m also often surprised with people’s opinion about my pictures. When I ask to some friends which version of one shot they prefer, they almost always pick the one I’m about to ditch. I do that like looking for a validation, and it sends me back to the dark room. I usually follow their advice because I don’t ask them to ignore it afterwards. But still… I always wonder if it’s the right choice.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
I just want to thank you for featuring amateur’s work on your blog 🙂