Raphaël's Interview

Raphaël Dupouy


Plage de Saint-Clair – 83980 Le Lavandou (South of France)
06 09 58 45 02

Link to version Francaise

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SMC: What is your background?
After musical studies and an average school curriculum, I went to “Beaux -Arts” School in St Etienne (France) in 1982 and finished there in 1998. It is in this school I discovered photography.

SMC: What is your current photographic project?
I arranged a month long visit to London this January 2009, where I took long urban walks everyday around the city.  I was looking for anything that appealed according to my style and my aim.  This work, titled “London Feeling”, will complete my previous series on European and American Cities.

SMC: How would you describe yourself as a photographer: An urban photographer? a city photographer or a travel photographer?
A little bit of all, but rather than “travel Photographer” I would say “travelling Photographer”.
Travel in itself is not the aim.  It is the reason to go out, to open my eyes and confront the world by taking photographs. Thought the adventure can start at our front door, by walking in a street we don’t usually take.

SMC: Has photography taught you any special qualities?
As in lots of art forms, one has to learn to look at things and analyse.  In photography you have to choose very quickly, almost by instinct, what you are intending to record on a few square centimetres of film or a digital chip when you press the shutter, this implies the photographer has to put a distance, a step back from the reality.  But does reality exist?

SMC: Any exhibitions? Books?
Several exhibitions in France and abroad.  Few books, mixing texts and photography, written by myself or with professional writers.  My last book is called: “Blue Sky café”, which is a photographic world tour diary that I took 20 years ago.

SMC:  Did you go though different phases or different styles in your career?
No, I don’t think so, it’s more like a slow evolution moving through different stages, more or less important.  Encounters and conversations with famous photographers helped me to question and define my own work.

SMC: What changes would you make in your method of work if any?
Always working more and giving as much time as possible to my photography.
Maybe working with video would appeal to me, it would introduce a new dimension to my work with sounds, music, time, storytelling…


SMC: Your equipment?
I work mainly with two reportage bodies in 35mm format, a Nikon FM2 for the black and white and a Nikon D200 (digital) for the colour.  I usually use standard lenses (between 28mm to 85 mm)  Very occasionally I use medium format or macro-lenses.

SMC: Black & White?  Or Colour? Which one do you prefer?
Most of the time I carry with me my two Nikons to be able to adjust to what’s around, subjects, light…and also what I want to achieve may vary.
In my last exhibition there were B/W and colour photographs together.

SMC: Do you prefer up close and dangerous or do you like longer focal length?
The photographer’s own look at things and his own thoughts make the photograph, not the gear.

SMC: Do you print your own pictures?
I did print my photographs for a long time but now I don’t have the time anymore.  Then I found a professional printer in Paris who does all that for me very skilfully and very quickly as well.

SMC: Do you use a digital camera? Yes/ No? Why?
Like all purists it took me a bit of time to go for digital; but I took the step to go to digital firstly for professional reasons as it’s obviously very convenient to choose straight away the right photo for your client and then being able to send it the other side of the world, by internet, within minutes. Then secondly, for my own personal work….actually, when I arrived in London, even though I had my two Nikons always with me, I had started taking only B/W photographs, but later on I felt this strong desire to record my feeling for London in colour and since then, it stayed that way.


SMC: What was your first step in photography?
I recall my first pictures were taken in some places very precious to my childhood that I was trying to find again and to record some elements of it, graphics, composition, light and subject etc..which used to set off lots of emotions in me.

SMC: What is your favourite picture? Can you tell us the little story to go with it?
You won’t believe me or you might think I’m just saying this but it’s a black and white shot of London taken during a trip in 1986. I choose this photo as a cover for my book “Déambulations” self edited 1998. There is an old English bus passing during the night and in the rain. I was in a car and the rain-drops on the windscreen created a beautiful light, we can see the silhouette of the travellers on the bus and an Asian shop-sign with a walking man logo.  You just can’t just invent it!  I think this special shot pushed me to become a photographer.  I thought there is a lot of myself in it.  Also, this image is particularly precious to me because the negative has been stolen and only two or three small prints remain.

SMC: What is your strangest photograph?
A few years ago, being a photo-journalist cause me to take very strange pictures.
Once I had to photograph the face of a dead man in an attempt to find who he was.

SMC:  Do you like to show your pictures?
I would be lying if I said no, but it’s not just a question to show just for showing‘s sake. It has to be useful for one’s own work as it is a way to confront your skills regularly to other’s viewing, in different ways actually.  Through books, pictures on the walls, or projections, each of which can be read by viewers in different ways.

SMC: Do you think you have a fair opinion on other photographer’s work?
I hope so, it’s actually much more difficult to have a fair view of one’s own work.

SMC: Do you keep all your photographs, even the junk?
In 35mm film, yes of course.  I think it’s the idea that on a contact sheet, one day, you might spot something really special afterward. Even a long time after the photo was taken.  Of course with digital any photo can be deleted straight away.  Then you avoid the “Is it good?” “Is it bad?” debate.  In any case, I think with digital we shoot far too much and face a huge number of photos that we have to tidy and decide; taking the risk though, to make lots of little pieces of history disappear.

SMC:  What is your favourite ingredient in a good photo?
Of course there’s a few.  For me, the best thing would be to achieve a beautiful image in its shape, well composed, with perfect light and making sense in what it tells of its own world, of its relationship with the history of photography, and finally in what it reveals of the artist's personality. If it provokes emotions on top of what it shows..that’s perfect!


SMC: Are you suddenly inspired? Or do you plan a project?
I think there are no rules.  It happened that I took photos that I really liked trying to finish a film, no matter what, in order to process it.  Sometimes I walked for hours in the cities and I didn’t see anything.  I came back, and here is my notebook on the table, open, looking like a flock of birds.  The only obvious rule is to stay aware, to go out and confront our way of seeing things.

SMC: Who/What are:
-Your favourite photographer(s)?
American photographers : Frank, Friedlander, Winogrand, etc..but also Brassai (Prince of cities by night and graffiti)
-Favourite subjects
Lots of them: Vestigial places or reconstructed buildings, abandoned shop fronts, empty old market streets, trashed old posters on walls and any words spread in cities like tags, graffiti, adverts, shop signs…all sorts! Trains, planes…etc..All cities in the world!

-Favourite spots
Suburbs, places from the back of beyond and places which seem timeless.
-Favourite mood
A sceptic enthusiasm or an enthusiastic scepticism.  A sharp feeling to live the life to the full.

SMC: Are you perpetually out and about shooting?
I try, despite of having lots of activities.  Regularly I try to be available for my photography, so it’s true, the simplest way is to jump into a train or a plane.


SMC:  Do you know anything about English Photography? Any photographer in particular?
I really admire Martin Parr’s work, one of the most talented contemporary photographers according to me.  It’s altogether beautiful and powerful in its own form, but also clever and cynical enough to mock our consumerist society, to laugh at himself and in the same time to question the history of photography.  Plus, his work is often very funny..a real English Gentleman, so British!

SMC: What do you think about contemporary photography?, in particular art-photography?
Some people who were motivated by the easiness of digital photography and the collector’s interest, went into this form of art, turning the code upside down.  In a way it’s good, they brought an experimental side that maybe classical photographers didn’t dare use, but it’s also an open door to all sorts of conceptual drifts.

SMC: How does it feel to be recognised for your work?
Very enjoyable of course, but it’s not the main issue.  What is important is to be reassured in your thought-process and mainly it should help (financially I mean) to be able to carry on your work.

SMC: What would be your advice to an amateur photographer?
To believe always.  Despite everything, to stay passionate. Never stop refining your artistic sense and carry on taking pictures.  By putting in the time, you might have a little chance to leave something behind.  If your work is well-known before you die, then of course, that’s better!


I wonder if one day our children will delve into our disks or digital archive, like we use to search our parents secret drawers?


To purchase books by Raphaël Dupouy please click the Amazon link below then scroll to the bottom of the page, click France. they type Raphaël Dupouy into the search box.


Books by Raphaël Dupouy

André Gide au Lavandou : Encre et Sable par Vincent Vivès et Raphaël Dupouy.
ISBN-13: 978-2849950401

Aubagne : Points de vue par Yves Gerbal, Christian Ramade, Raphaël Dupouy, et Patrick Massaïa
ISBN-13: 978-2911375101

Praha par Michel Flayeux et Raphaël Dupouy
ISBN-13: 978-2905023384

Alfred Courmes en son pays par Raphaël Dupouy et Michel Guillemain
ISBN-10: 2951893922

E.C. Bénézit : Citoyen des terres heureuses, Bormes 1915-1930 (Le regard de la mémoire) par Jean Montpellier, Michel Guillemain, Raphaël Dupouy, et Musée Arts et histoire


To purchase prints, for commissions or more information about Raphaël Dupouy please contact Sophie by e-mail sophie@uklandscape.net


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May 2014
Roger Voller


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