Thierry Bansront’s Neoclassical Nudes
How did you take up photography?
«I first ventured into photography when my second daughter was born. It was nothing original, just some family photographs as most of us do. Then something changed: in photography I found a language that provided me with a new way of expression, and I gradually began to explore the world of portrait photography.
This led me to deepen my technical knowledge and devote myself to studio photography, because the use of light attracted me, but I also wanted to be able to master it. During this period, my friends and family were my first subjects. I only went into portrait photography a few years ago, which is when I started hiring professional models. Initially I was more into classical painting, even though I was already planning on focusing on neoclassical portraits. I spent a long time studying how painters such as Ingres, Bouguereau, Caravaggio mastered the use of light and colour, and then spent weeks looking for the perfect female figure to open this series. I eventually found a model who had already worked with one of my friends, and she accepted to pose for me after I explained what I wanted to do (and it is really difficult when you cannot give any example!). This was back in April 2014, and that picture was Compassion».
Can you explain the meaning of the photographs selected by Alidem?
«I have always had a fascination with classical painters, especially from the neoclassical age. I deeply admire Ingres, whose work I discovered during my studies in art history. Since I am a terrible painter, I thought photography would be a different way to pay homage painting and neoclassicism without using a paint brush. I did not want to copy what had been already done; I wanted to create original artworks modelled as neoclassical paintings.
Looking at my pictures, a viewer should be able to identify the neoclassical inspiration just through the use of light, colour and body poses: these are the only features that link my shots to neoclassicism, as I never use any explicit decoration or accessory.
My aim is to praise the natural beauty of women, disregarding the diktat imposed by contemporary photography. I do not necessarily look for professional models; on the contrary, I prefer women who look like the person next door. Some of my models had never posed naked before, some others had never posed at all. I do not try to make them look good, but just show what they look like from my perspective: hence, I am extremely picky when I have to choose one of them. I try to feature the same light and timeless atmosphere of an old painting in my pictures».
What technique do you use?
«I first draw a sketch on paper. Sometimes my drawing is based on the model I am working with - based on her real aspects - while in some others I just draw a scene and then look for a model who can fit in. I work with a flash light or a constant light, depending on the circumstances. I spend a lot of time adjusting the camera before shooting, to make sure the result will be as close as possible to the original sketch. Finally, I process the image to obtain my very unique final product. I usually work with a Nikon D800 and a 500mm fixed lens».
What does photography mean to you?
«To me, photography is an ephemeral moment made immortal. It is the will to give meaning to things, to moments, to emotions. It is the will to breathe life into a moment and to share the intimacy between a photographer and a model with other people, without any censure or barrier, but with respect. Something that was once told me, which really stuck for me is, “Photography is a brief complicity between foresight and chance"».
What about your future plans?
«I definitely want to carry on my work on neoclassical portraits, and I also want to raise the bar: working on more elaborate scenes, also involving male models. But it is very difficult to find them!».