Shadows, Light and reflections with the Leica Q Julien Legrand on street photography

Most of Julien Legrand’s pictures explore the chance moments of everyday life, with a focus on pedestrians. For him, streets and public spaces are inexhaustible sources of inspiration. He always has a camera with him and takes pictures almost every day, anywhere, at any time. He operates spontaneously, instinctively, creating a visual record that does not seek to relate or denounce anything; he prefers to let the imagination run free.
The idea of being suffocated by a repetitive and impersonal daily life frightens him, so shooting on the street is his way of constantly keeping in touch with the world around him.

How would you describe your photography?

I explore the moments of everyday life with a focus on pedestrians. I like finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, I look for aesthetics, moods or enigmas. For me, it is important not to give all the answers, I don’t explain anything, I don’t denounce anything, I like letting the imagination run free.

When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression, and art form, a profession?

When I was younger, I used to skateboard in the streets a lot. I found it great to have fun by using what the streets gave to me, by making something from “raw materials” (benches, stairs etc…). I was free, I could practice it anywhere, at anytime. My friends and I took photos of the tricks we did and also the events that happened around us (strange situations, original people etc…). At the same time, I studied graphic design at school, it was my second passion. Because of a serious fall, I had to stop skateboarding, photography came to me naturally as I still needed to wander in the streets and to create from them, my graphic design lessons also helped me to make images.

How did you first become interested in Leica?

I became interested in Leica by searching masters’ gear. Then some people lent me Leica cameras like the M6, the M8 and finally the Q, I really really enjoyed the Q. Now I have one and I shoot with it everyday.

What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?

Photography is an obsession, it accompanies me everyday, it’s an extension of me. It’s very personal, it heals me like a lifelong psychotherapy. It helps me know myself and help me understand the world around me, it’s a friend that won’t forsake me (I have abandonment anxiety), it is maybe also a way of not fearing death too much as my photos can live forever.

You had several other cameras in the past – why did you transition to the Leica Q? How can you compare his camera’s performance with the others you had?

My last camera before the Leica Q was a Fuji X100T, I must admit I liked it but I found the autofocus a bit too slow. When I tried the Leica Q, there was almost no lag, it is really fast, by the way the lens is also better (sharpness and aperture). I also wanted to do a transition to full frame sensor.

Where were these images taken?

All these images were taken in Lille – France, my hometown.

The images you share expose an array of shadows, contrasts and reflections. Some of them even generate or suggest geometric figures that play along with the subjects in the composition. Is this a style you like to explore?

Well I don’t know much why I do this, maybe it’s because of my background as a graphic designer. I like shadows because they hide uninteresting elements and create some kind of enigmas, I like geometry because it makes the images easy to read and give aesthetics. Reflections are interesting to me because they are like several photos included in only one..

Can you share a story or two behind a couple of the images you’ve shared? The reason behind taking them?

The guy in the middle of the water: After I took the photo, he asked me if I was working for the city hall. I think he was wondering if I was monitoring his job.

When I’m taking photos, I don’t think too much, it’s a bit instinctive.

If not too intrusive, would you share how you cope with abandonment anxiety through photography? Is this also an element that underlines your photography?

Well… Abandonment anxiety is something I have been diagnosed very recently, it is still fuzzy for me…

Looking ahead, are there other projects you’re working on you would like to talk about or share?

Next month, I’ll go to Tokyo for 2 weeks, hopefully I’ll be inspired and I will find interesting situations. I also have 3 long term projects : “A moment alone”, “Filled emptiness” and “Unusual banality”. I will go on working on them.

Thank you Julien!

To know more about Julien Legrand, please visit his official website and follow him on Instagram, Street Photographers and French Collective.

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