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Erwan Le Guillermic

15 September 2021

Erwan Le Guillermic is a Brittany-based photographer with a portfolio largely showcasing colourful sunsets, cloudscapes, and other subjects borrowed from nature. His style is largely minimalist, with a juxtaposition of warm sunset colours combined with the cooler palette of night photography and moody cloud patterns.

What is your backstory?

Hi, I'm Erwan, and I live in Brittany, on the western coast of France. I'm the fulfilled father of young kids, and of course future photographers. I have been making documentary films as a director for 15 years. I explore different topics in my films; music bands, general history, and the experiences of sailors.

How did you first start out in photography?

I discovered the darkroom with my mother when I was a kid. After that i always had an analog camera in my backpack. I started mostly with street and nature photography, trying to capture a memory of my emotions. From a young age, I had this feeling that I have to keep images of my environment, maybe because I consider myself to have a weak memory. I use the image as a second immutable and reliable memory.

I have never been in a photographic or art school (I'm a graduate of political sciences). For a few years, I was part of a photographic association to obtain a darkroom and develop my own films. When the digital era arose as a new world, I waved goodbye to the chemicals and jumped into the pixels. I'm not at all nostalgic about film photography.

How would you describe your style?

I really don't know if I have "a style", but maybe that the cornerstone of what I present on Instagram is the meeting between light and colors. Sure if i take a brush one day in my old age, i will throw colors on the canvas.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I love the French documentarists like Varda and Cavalier, interacting between films and photography. I truly find inspiration in photographers working on the link between man and nature. But I think my main inspiration is nature itself. I keep my fascination for the elements, waves, birds, clouds etc. As much as I can, I go to the seaside and along the rivers to experience the link with nature.

What subjects do you like to shoot?

Right now I'm focused on shooting scenes which portray low light and strong colors. Where I live, we are surrounded by the wind and clouds. I love the look that the sun gives off in the few minutes around dawn and sunset, the fading hours! Just before and after the dark, the perceptions change, each detail becomes a whole world - massive colors appear. It's quite mystical. I always keep an eye out around these times, to check if there is an opportunity.

Sometimes I like to put a character in the frame, especially in street photographs. On rare occasions, if I have some spare time at night, I go back to the street to take some photos. I expect to be back one day in Japan to wander in the streets at night.

What are you looking for when you go out shooting?

I guess that I take photography as a medium to experiment my place in this world. When I'm out I especially look for poignant colors arising in the dark, like a proof that surprise and beauty can be everywhere.

How do you know when you've got "the shot"?

It is really instinctive. When I see a good contrast flowing in the air, and suddenly a subject enters the frame, I know in a millisecond that I have the image. Sometimes it is really quick to achieve, and sometimes it doesn't come (which can be disappointing).

Are you an impulsive or planned shooter?

I would like to have more time for photography and plan shooting, but it's not right now... so I'm really impulsive each time I get the opportunity, and try to be prolific. When I catch something good, it's like a big bloom of endorphins. I need it a few times a week - if not I may be nasty...

How do you achieve the look in your photos?

I use basic photoshop camera RAW light settings, trying not to edit my photos too much.

Do you have one or two photos that are you particularly proud of? Can you tell us the story behind them?

I really love this photo titled 'Jungle'; it's a mix of the lights I chase, a sunset sky, and this flood of starlings who terrorise my hometown. Before winter, when the temperature outside goes down, they come into town at night to get warm. They provoke the townspeople by making noise and dropping excrement on cars, but they are also so beautiful in their collective movements, giving an opportunity to capture a nice image. I see in this image a kind of allegory of animal revenge on humans and I like it.

What advice would you have for people getting into photography?

I would say to not focus on the technicalities but on the subject and the emotion; if you feel it, the technicals will follow.

How has Covid-19 affected your photography?

Basically not so much cause until now - clouds and sun are not hit by the virus. However, my project to be in Japan for a couple of months in 2020 has been delayed...fading hours in Tokyo and Hokkaido too...

What are your thoughts on Instagram as a platform for photography?

I've been in the IG game for three years now. I've never thought of monetising my photographs and I don't sell prints, etc. I just want to share the passion and meet new fellows. I really don't know if the algorithm is with or against me, but I don't care. What I really don't like is the evolution of the app on reels and the marketplace.

What are some of your hobbies outside of photography?

I love fly-fishing and surfing waves. I don't have my camera in these situations...but I connect with a lot of really cool guys in this via instagram.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Erwan. Any final words?

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to take the time to analyse my past in photography, and to associate my production to all these really cool other photographers right here in this collection.

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