Miles Davis©William Coupon

Rfotofolio is pleased to feature the work of photographer William Coupon.

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I am principally a portrait photographer, specializing in backdrop portraits, with a completely different sensibility when I get flashes of the street.

Where did you get your photographic training?

I had none. My mother  told me I had nice eyes.

Why do you create ? 

So I could continue to hear my mother, as well as, share my version of the world, which is markedly optimistic.

Who has had an influence on your creative process? 

Penn, Avedon, Arbus, Walker Evans, Pierre Verger

Hopi Indians by Edward Curtis

Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time. 

It’s the Hopi Indians on the reservation, on the steps shot from behind, by Edward Curtis.

What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson? 

I was a neophyte, just starting out, and was in Haiti in 1979.  My studio strobes blew up as I had 110 voltage and they only had 220.  I then used a small hand flash. That taught me to be resourceful. The images came out lovely, spontaneous and raw, like they were in a cave.  I liked them.

What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?

A good day is a productive day, one of vision and some activity towards the pursuit of the concept of  “learning to see,” “learning to edit.”

If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?

Carlinhos Brown, the Brazilian.

Please tell us about your book. William Coupon Portraits

It took almost 40 years, but I finally constructed a worthy product. I had been working on several versions, and the heart of my work is notably more ethnographic, but everyone loves celebrities.

So I decided to bring it to a gumbo, a mix of images. Most people know my backdrop portraits, but I have quite a few that are not.

In this book I tried to show the best portrait mix, from the celebrity to the tribal leader, the Prince to the Princess. I think it worked.

My next book will be, “Social Studies”, the collection of ethnographic images. In the meantime, this first introduction is meant to be powerful as well as depict a certain nostalgia for the 80s and 90s, mostly, as these were the people who were then in their vibrancy.

How important is the photographic community to you?

Tangentially important.  I am an outsider.

What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?

One light, one medium format camera, like my new Hasselblad digital, or, if it is street work, something small, like the Sony RX100

Is there something in photography that you would  like to try in the future? 

I want to continue to pursue the gallery and book markets.

Whats on the horizon?

A sunset filled with photo books, from my nudes, to my still life, to street work, and then back to the formal backdrop portraits, especially the complete Social Studies Series.

To learn more about the work of William Coupon please visit his site at William Coupon.

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