Stéphane Goin’s portfolio North By Northwest(where I live) was selected by Rfotofolio for the 2020 Rfotofolio Selections.
We are pleased to share his interview.
Would you please tell us about yourself?
I am a French photographer, 48 years old, living in North France. Recently, I had designed two series of pictures. The first one is named : “Mad(e) in USA” and pictures what is the american dream like for an European guy like me. Twice a year, whenever possible, I visited the North American continent, starting in the 90’s. I put my feet in all the American States except for Hawaii.
The second series is named “North By Northwest (where I live)”. I’ve started this series when I moved from Paris to the North of France three years ago.
Where did you get your photographic training?
I am a graduate from the Paris University in Marketing and Communications. My first job was in an advertising and publishing agency.
A few years ago, I have been back to school during 6 months in Paris to specifically study studio photography.
In the landscape field, I improved my practice more by reading books, viewing exhibitions or just chatting with my fellow photographers.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
You can notice several influences in my work. These are the great U.S. photographers Stephen Shore, as well as William Eggleston. I also learned a lot of and readed about the group called the “Topographic Movement”. They were a kind of revelation for me. It changed my vision and how I understand the landscape.
In Europe, there are also some photographers who had questionned the landscape vision. The Italian Photographer Gabriele Basilico is one of them.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
A few years ago, I was travelling through the U.S., and in an antique mall I found a large snapshot by chance. This black and white snapshot showed two guys, a dad and a son I presume, standing in front of a wonderful large 50’s American car. The guys were looking on the top left handside of the picture and we can read this caption on the other side of the image : “I took this on our way to Grand Canyon 2 weeks ago”. This snapshot represents for me freedom, and I kept it always by me and it became my bookmark.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
I learn everyday and I think, the most important things I had learned through the past years are patience and a sense of observation.
In our life, everything goes faster and faster. However, in photography, time doesn’t exist. I can spend hours waiting for the light to be right, to be perfect, as I need to produce a good image! Several times, I had to return to the “scene of the crime” within a year in order to achieve a different finish for a picture!
Please tell us about the work you submitted to the Rfotofolio Call.
After spending 25 years in Paris and having moved 30 times, 3 years ago I landed in the North of France, where a part of my family is from. I took one year off and aimed at discovering the area and losing myself in the territory. When i started my series named “North by Northwest” as a city dweller, my first goal was to discover and understand my new asylum land. Slowly the images came to me and I created a new mental map. After my life in town I needed quietness and silence and I found it in the landscape here.
What part of image-making do you find the most rewarding?
Definitely the first part, especially when I discover something that surprises me. I don’t know how to describe it, nevertheless, it ‘s like a magical moment and you know that you have grabbed something. Besides, and this is particularly what is interesting and surprising, some images like a good wine, take time to reveal their potential.
I love the second moment. For one year with this series, I receive some great feedback, from online and printed magazines! So it’s really amazing, when you get these good comments on your work and your images fly away in the world, mainly far from me.
How do you work through times when nothing seems to work?
I take a deep breath. Seriously, I consider my work as a long quest, so I don’t change my direction, I keep moving in the same way! The landscape photography is the perfect mix between chance, curiosity, and exploration.
What tools have you found essential in the making of your work?
Having a technique is important but in my opinion keep the eyes open and being aware is the most important. Be curious also. In my series “North by Northwest(where I live)” I let skies be a big part. The skies, here in the North of France, change always, they can be from washed blue to dark grey. In my images I want to be surprised by the elements and the colors.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
Firstly, I think, I would like to experiment with black and white. I think in “color”, but I would like to explore the field of the black and white and the subtlety of the different greys.
Secondly, it could be interesting to become a street photographer, just because you must think faster in the middle of the crowd. It could be an excellent exercise, and with the pandemic I must confess that I miss people.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
In a very positive way indeed! Art makes life better.
How has the pandemic influenced your work methods ? Or has it?
If the question is : Do you think the pandemic has changed anything in the way I take pictures, honestly, I can say no. My photographic approach before the pandemic was full of silence, social distancing and I included very few human beings in my compositions. Afterwards, I’ll carry on in the same trend I guess.
What’s on the horizon?
Plenty of desires! During the first semester of 2021, I would like to participate in a collective exhibition in France. A French publisher would also like to publish the series “North by Northwest(where I live)”.
Actually, my secret dream is to jump as soon as possible into an airplane and find again this feeling of freedom, driving through the landscapse and I guess this year, I will find it in Arizona.
And of course, also looking for a great gallery!
To learn more about the work of Stéphane Goin please visit his site at Stéphane Goin.