An art director with a passion for photography, this 25-year-old Frenchman with a “thirst for images” grew up in a richly visual environment that nurtured his innate talent. Once he discovered the Leica M6, his quest for great subjects and perfect picture opportunities has become insatiable, and he hopes to become a full-time pro someday. Here, in his own thoughtful words, are how he perceives his quest and how the Leica M will play a significant role in his emerging as an accomplished photographer.
Q: How would you describe your photography?
A: I would say it is spontaneous. Realistic. I work by instinct, and I’m always on the lookout for a good shot. Since I use a film camera, I cannot indulge in burst shooting.
Q: Would you describe yourself as a serious enthusiast or a pro? Do you think you will ever decide to go pro?
A: I wouldn’t call myself a pro. For me, being a professional photographer is like a title you have to strive for, that you are awarded. It’s not just about taking pretty pictures and having a few of them published here and there. I hope to be able to make a living from photography some day, and I am doing all I can to reach this goal.
Q: When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression, and art form, a profession?
A: When I was a boy, my birthday presents would often be cameras (e.g. Polaroids, small compact cameras). My godfather is a photographer and one of my grandfathers is an artist. They unconsciously introduced me to the world of images. Once I was in art school, I rediscovered the passion, and today, at the age of 25, I am obsessed with photography—it is a vital part of my life.
Q: Did you have any formal education in photography, with a mentor, or were you self-taught? Was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
A: I am primarily self-taught. I did not go through any photography school per se, but I am an art director in an advertising company. I have learned a lot from observing photographers during photo shooting sessions.
Otherwise, I’m constantly learning new tricks from specialists and discovering new secrets myself almost every day, in a natural yet humble way. My influences are quite varied since I am always storing up visual information, from photos, paintings, film, et cetera. I have a genuine thirst for images! I’m naturally quite curious and always crave more.
Q: What genre are your photos?
A: I don’t want to limit myself to a single category. I am interested in all possible genres. I just try to apply the same touch, the same type of approach or style to whatever subject I shoot, whether it be street photography or fashion.
Q: How did you first become interested in the Leica?
A: I started out shooting with small, autofocus compact cameras like Polaroids and Lomos. My collection of cameras never stops growing. Little by little, I saved enough money to buy my dream camera, my first Leica, and today, there is no other brand that I would trust as highly. I bought an M6 because I am not so attracted to digital photography, not because I am contrary, but simply because I find it less aesthetic, and especially less exciting, than film photography. When I go fetch my negatives from the lab, I have an adrenaline rush and am all stressed out. What if the final results do not correspond to the shots I had in my head? This is a sensation that you cannot have with digital photography.
Q: What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?
A: Photography has become more than a passion for me; it’s a whole way of life. Whenever I spot anything exciting or promising in the street, or at a party, if I forgot my camera, I can stew about it for several days—to such an extent that it drives the people around me crazy.
Q: Your images have a spontaneous and whimsical quality that stop you in your tracks and make you smile or think. Do you agree and why do you think that is so?
A: If my pictures make you smile or frown that’s a good start! The most important thing for me is creating an emotional response in the viewer.
Q: You shoot primarily with a Leica M6 T TL and have been “building a collection of lenses”. Which M lenses do you presently own and which ones are your favorites?
A: I’m building my Leica M lens collection little by little, and for the time being it is rather limited. I have a 50mm f/2 Summicron and I just bought a 35mm f/1.4 Summilux. I am delighted with both and they have fulfilled my expectations in every respect.
Q: A fairly large percentage of your pictures are shot with flash and you mention that you have an SF-20 for your M6. What is your flash technique and what exactly are you trying to achieve when using flash for, say, your studies of “girls” and “boys?”
A: I have no special flash technique. When I’m shooting indoors I quite like the brutal effect of using direct on-camera flash to illuminate my subects and I often use flash as a surprise element, not telling people in advance that I intend to use flash. When it’s used outdoors flash can also yield interesting results by creating unusual lighting effects—I always strive for something that looks different.
Q: Many people have noted, as you do, that the Leica M encourages a deliberate approach to photography and isn’t optimized for burst shooting, but this is also true of the digital M9. Are you attracted to the M9 and do you plan to try a digital M?
A: I definitely don’t have anything against the M9, but at this point I prefer the aesthetics provided by film cameras. However, I’d certainly like to try an M9 soon. Who knows I might change my mind and go digital—you never know!
Q: What is it about the Leica M that you find particularly suited to your present style of photography?
A: The speed and ease of use, which allows me to shoot very quickly, even with moving subjects. That’s what I was looking for when I started using small compact cameras, but the ones I used didn’t deliver the image quality of a Leica, so I opted for the M6, which combines all these advantages in my opinion.
Q: Since you are so passionate about photography, do you have any specific idea or plans about reaching your goal of becoming a professional photographer and making this your career?
A: My only goal for the moment is to continue to learn every day, and to do so by taking more and more pictures to hone my techniques and develop my insight and style.
Q: You mentioned that you are a self-taught photographer but that as an art director you have learned a lot by observing photographers during shooting sessions. Can you say some more about that, particularly what are few things you picked up?
A: I have learned a lot about the management of light, and also effective ways to manage and direct models. When I shoot commercials, I become conversant with a wide variety of styles and subjects–still life, action, fashion, landscape, etc. All this is extremely useful in advancing my photographic pursuits.
Q: How do you see your immediate future as a photographer and how does the Leica M6 fit into this equation?
A: The Leica M6 suits me extremely well. Whatever I decide shoot in the future, I think a Leica M camera will never be very far from my hands.
Thank you Luc Braquet!
-Leica Internet Team
For Luc Braquet’s website, please visit http://www.lucbraquet.com.