EMULSIVE | Aug 8, 2018 | 5
EMULSIVE interview #83: I am Joffrey Carpentier and this is why I shoot film
I’ve been looking forward to this one! Welcome to the hectic world of Joffrey Carpentier, Frenchman, Photographer, Psychiatrist and fleet-blooded traveller based in the east of France.
There’s been a lot of back and forth to bring you Joffrey’s words and images; and you should be seeing a little bit more over the coming weeks!
Over to you, Joffrey!
Hi Joffrey, what’s this picture, then?
JC: Shibuya crossing, Tokyo 2014. I had a very special feeling watching this place. I felt the whole world within a view; like a dance.
Cars, red lights, people…many people.
Photography holds that moment. Right now as we breathe, people are crossing there right now. It is thrilling to guess where all those people go…home, work, entertaining, shopping, touring…all those lives, thoughts, worries, happiness, love and sorrows crossing one minute at a time.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
JC: Joffrey Carpentier, I am 35. I live in Besançon, east of France. I am a psychiatrist and photographer.
When did you start shooting film and what about now? Why do you shoot film and what drives you to keep shooting?
JC: I came to Photography at the same time I started my internship in Psychiatry in 2006. I used my first paycheck to buy a Nikon FM2 and the second one to buy a plane ticket to India.
Since then I’ve been travelling quite often on my own. Just me, my backpack and many cameras (including both digital and film cameras). During my internship, I’ve travelled to many amazing places including China, Japan, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
I’ve met incredible people and taken some quite nice pictures of beautiful landscapes. Back home, I go to a Photo Club in Colombier, Fontaine. It is such a small place but you can find a huge interest for film photography. Experiencing darkroom techniques has been such a revelation that I find I can’t quite film – even if I wanted to.
I am also now the happy owner of a Hasselblad 501cm and a 903SWC. It goes without saying that I am fond of my cameras and that they are a part of me. 120 film is such a step up. The emotion starts right in the viewfinder; it is like looking into a wonder box. The square format is so appealing…everything can be so nicely pondered!
My photography offers a strong complement to my medical practice. It is all about negative and positive. I consider my work as a Psychiatrist like a dark room. People may come in depressed, with lots of anxiety and negative feelings; and my job is then to help them get better, feel better, enjoy their life again.
To me, it is the same with film photography.
You see a place or person, then you take the picture, get a negative and turn it back to some piece of art…something you would find beautiful. From time to time I ask my patients to bring pictures of themselves as kids, of their parents, their home – all film photography of course. It is incredible how people rediscover their own childhood pictures…the way they will put them on my desk, the joy or sorrow they feel…part of the work is then to reconcile them with their own image of themselves.
It is also very touching to have old pictures in the hand. With film photography, we used to have a printed version of our life, a family album, something concrete.
I still shoot film because of that magic.
The wait for the right light, the right moment…the care we take about the process. The magic of revealing negatives; it is a strong feeling…the impression to make art…something unique.
Any favorite subject matter?
I love travel photography, both landscapes and portraits.
I concentrate on movement, trying to captivate the life surrounding my subject, and deliver it in my picture. It can be a laugh, or a shore, the wind in prayer flags. Baudelaire would call those « des infinitesimaux ».
In Paris, I focus on the chairs in the Tuilerie garden, they are left by their users and I like to photography them empty. I like to imagine the stories they tell then.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
JC: I would save some Fuji Provia. I love bright colors. Slide film is way more thrilling than black and white!
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject matter. What do you take with you and why?
JC: Oh but of course my Hasselblad 501. It is so elegant it can handle every situation. I would take some Kodak Tri-X 400 and some Kodak Portra 400, so I would have both black and white and color film to hand. Both of these films are very tolerant, so you can adapt to the situation quite easily.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
JC: ICELAND ! I have been there many times!
I would also need unlimited time, this place is magical and always changing!
I once took a 4WD car and made a full circle around the Frozen Island. I felt like I was in a movie. The scenery would come toward me and ever-changing – lava, fields, mountains, deserts, seashore. The weather can be really incredible too, you can endure rain, snow and hard sun… I did a trek in Landmannalaugar, it is one of my most beautiful experiences.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
JC: « It is going to be complicated »
I would still try to set them straight by telling them it is an art by itself and that there are only 2 or 3 settings to learn but you still have to work hard.
Photography is not just pressing a button you still have to remove the cap.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
JC: My prediction is that film is like The Force…I feel it growing stronger in our galaxy.
Digital is now everywhere, we need something unique, we need to go back to our roots, to a simple living, to our « essence »
Film is that feeling. It is chemical like our blood, it is imperfect just like we are, it is magical like love, a kind of emulsive attraction…
~ Joffrey Carpentier
I’ve said it before (you’re probably sick of it by now), but it does take guts to do these pieces – especially when English isn’t your first language. Stirling job, Joffrey.
I absolutely love Joffrey’s portrait and landscape work. It evokes something in my that I can’t quite describe. Check out the Morocco images on his website to see what I mean (www.joffreycarpentier.fr). Stunning stuff.
Another thing that’s been said time and time again is that travel broadens the mind. It encourages us to think differently and see the world from a different perspective. Those newfound perspectives may not always stay with us for very long when we’re back to our daily grinds but I really do believe that it rubs off. I shot differently when travelling; either in country, or abroad. I try new ways of capturing things that may have been captured a million times before by other travellers but I also find myself behaving differently, wanting to capture those moments for eternity, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding.
I’d like to think I always bring something back; a change of tack on how I normally shoot a particular kind of camera, or a more outgoing approach to connecting with strangers for portraits. It’s often a fleeting influence but sometimes, when I go through my old negatives and scans, I’m reminded of how I felt when I was “there” and for the next couple of weeks, I’m back in that mode of thought, mixing things up, taking a different route home, or taking less time to ask that interesting looking person if I can trouble them for a portrait.
There’s another interview coming in a few days.
Keep shooting, folks.
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