Portait of Thierry Chantegret - during one of his workshops in India.
We were lucky enough to attend on of Thierry Chantegret’s photo workshop, in Jodhpur,
A self-portrait in Udaipur dec.2008 - portrait entitled « double Je ».
Lucky enough? Indeed, this adventurer knows the ins and outs of Jodhpur. Thierry left Rajhastan nearly 15 years ago, driven by the idea of a wandering photographer documentary. His main work «Identité?» traces back the origins of the gipsy tribes, from their Indian exodus, during the year 1000, up to the Rom and Tzigane today. His creation has so far led him across France, Turkey, Romania and even to Auschwitz in Poland.
Identity and humankind are recurring themes in his work, expressed in various ways, be it by spending a few weeks in french poet Arthur Rimbaud’s house in Charleville-Mézières (France), or experiencing life in the streets of Cambodia amongst stranded children.
Apart from his orders and personal creations, Thierry devotes his time to sharing and spreading his knowledge and experience...his sensibility shining through his pedagogy: patience and the passing on of his passion are always on his mind.
It’s a 10 day course aiming to assist the participants throughout one or several creative projects.
Exercice with the aperture speed of the camera
Here’s how it turned out for us:
We polished our technical knowledge, and quickly went on to learn how to set up a strong image, the not-so-easy exercise to single out the perfect life moments. We also discovered one of the primordial aspect in photography: editing (or why choosing right matters).
Illustration of Delphine with Thierry in the foreground.
After 2 days, a certain kind of rythme has settled in:
Tchaï tea at the lil’ street corner stall.
Supervised session in the morning.
Early afternoon debrief.
Solo session with instructions
Evening debrief around dinner.
Thanks to the supervised part of the sessions, we managed to develop the technical means for our goals and needs.
That’s how, dear reader, we hoped to enhance your reading experience with strong and overall better pictures. Will this be a new dawn for Tatup? WILL IT? Ahem...Well, you’ll be the judge of that!
For those who are interrested, next workshop will take place from the 3rd to the 12th of November 2015
You travelled a lot for your work. Why this workshop in Jodhpur then? How and why is India so special to you?
Ever since I was 9, this country has played an important role in my life. In 1972, one of my uncles came back from India, with a book for my parents and lots of slide pictures in his bags.
The slides have fascinated for a long time after his return, and I still own the book, currently sitting in my library. I had to wait until 2001 to finally come to India. I’ve returned 8 times since.
My love for this country can be summed up in a few simple yet very important words: I feel good there.
Left image : shot taken by Thierry, Right image «mise en abîme» by Delphine
My first trip being in Jodhpur, my love for the place and relationships woven there is only natural. From a practical standpoint, Jodhpur offers a few unique traits, perfect to hold a workshop: it’s a big city, yet the "village experience" can easily be found around the corner. The themes and possibilities for great pictures are endless.
How would you describe your own experience during the workshop? Is it as intensive for you as it is for us?
It -has- to be. First because I drag around my trainees, who, for the most part, don’t know India. Second, I’m attached to the idea of individual success for all: to surpass yourself, go beyond your usual photograph habits, get out of your comfort zone. To unveil the best in others is also very fulfilling for me.
What is your objective and focus (pun intended!) during a typical workshop?
Finding the keys, with my guidance, to go further then the usual image anyone can more or less capture. And in the end, after 10 days, be able to present a coherent set of pictures, the first step towards creative and personal work, mirroring each and everyone’s own uniqueness.
Moreover, the end goal is -not- to teach future professionals, but rather to bring amateurs the means to improve their practice and develop the way they look at the world.
Where would you draw the line between amateur and creative process, in an age where everyone has a relatively easy access to professional reflex cameras?
First off, the tools don’t matter: it’s all about the outlook, the approach, the subject. The personal traits each individual will pour in her/his picture. In this, the amateur and seasoned author differ. Furthermore, the "seasoned" author is driven, committed.
What piece of hardware do you use? What are the tips you can give to a newcomer?
After years of using a Leica, I now use the fantastic Fujifilm hybrids. Here’s an easy buying tip: go simple, useful, and avoid overspending on multiple useless lenses just to show off. I like to quote a famous photographer on the matter: «In a crowd, you recognize the professional from the amateur by the way he hides his camera.»
Now, the inevitable questions: how did you stick with photography, and what are the prominent steps in your career? Can people make a living of off photography?
My father has always been an active photographer. Being very passionate about Roman and Gothic art, he used to list everything he could during our holidays, one region at a time. During my early years, I used to help him with the photo printing in the lab he had set up in our attic, back when we lived in Lorraine.
That’s how it all started. Later, I retrieved one of his cameras, a telemetric Foca.
Of course you can make a living as a professional, and the new generation, using social media, is a proof of that. To be fair though, there are multiple possible directions a photograph can lean, and some are easier than others...photojournalism for example, just to name one. Some fend really well for themselves as culinary photographers...Two very different branch of the same tree.
When are you considered a professional?
When you make a living off your pictures, and spend 95% of your active time doing just that.
What do you think about an American woman told us «You can’t fail a photo in India»
I absolutely disagree with that statement. Everyone comes back from India with the same pictures, the same clichés. That’s where my workshop trainees shine: not one of them has come back with the same experience about Jodhpur. Meaning I managed to guide each one of them to produce something a little more personal.
Any tip for a young professional?
Produce pictures, work, watch more pictures, work harder, and avoid listening to what others may say about you.
Any thought for someone special?
Yes, for the last person I portrayed in India...and for the on coming after.
Thank you Thierry for all these enlightening answers.
As far as we are concerned, we couldn’t dream of a better mentor. And we are still grateful about Thierry’s implication in our guidance.
1975: First camera
1983: First exposition in Perpignan
1985: Arrival in Paris, works as an ad and fashion photographer assistant
1995: First trip to Argentina
1997: Spent a year in Argentina, trip to Patagonia with a wildlife photographer and collaboration with an Argentine photographer held captive during dictatorship regime.
2001: First trip to India
2004: "Je ne fais que passer..." displayed at the Festival des Chroniques Nomades, and since then in France and abroad.
2005: A year spent in Arthur Rimbaud’s residence for the 400 years anniversary of the creation of Charleville-Mézières.
2008: First exposition in India, at the Kriti Gallery in Benares
2010: External funding for the project "Identité?’
2014: First workshop in India.
Photograph of the TATUP by Thierry in Jodhpur
Official site: thierrychantegret.com
Email : email@example.com
Telephone : + 33 6 83 61 16 77