Today’s interview featured French photographer and movie director for Citroën Laurent Nivalle. There’s a little bit of everything in this interview from this very talented photographer.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Based in Paris in France, I’m art director, photographer and movie director for the French automotive brand “Citroën” for the past 13 years and I’m also freelancer. I shoot automotive, fashion, landscapes and portraits. My work is available at www.laurentnivalle.fr
What inspired you to get into photography?
For my work, art director, I use a lot of pictures to express ideas. I was very interested by this pictures I used, how the did that? What’s the technics behind this effects or this colour? etc. So naturally I wanted to learn and to make my pictures..
Are you self taught or did you study photography?
I’m totally self taught. I don’t like to learn with somebody or through a workshop because I like to break rules and experiment. I think it’s the best way to learn something and to find your own style.
If I want to do something new, I just try to find by myself the best way.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens could you not live without?
Only my camera and the canon 85/1.2 L.
Flash or Natural Light?
I use essentially natural light in my pictures. Because of the cinematographic feeling I can capture. Sometimes I can use a reflector, and if I use light it is HMI to keep this cinematographic feeling.
Can you describe how you use a flash, reflector, natural light when your shooting your portraits?
As I said I don’t use a flash or a reflector. When I shoot a portrait I look at around me how the light is reflecting and I use it. A wall, the ground, a glass window are natural reflectors and I’m playing with it.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
I don’t have a favourite photo, because each picture is connected to a special moment and a specific feeling. Maybe I’ve got a special feeling with the «HUITZILOPOXTLI» series because of subject.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was shot and how you edited it?
I don’t like to explain a picture, because I prefer to let the viewer have is own feeling. And I’m not a teacher 🙂
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work?
My workflow is really simple, without plug-ins or software’s like instagram. I make by myself the retouching and the colour correction with the standards tools in photoshop after some adjustments in lightroom (contrast, light, sharpen, etc.) I don’t like plugins because the result is clearly the same as every photographers using them, you can easily recognize them and I like adjust the colours with the feeling of the pictures.
What’s your favourite photography accessory other than you camera?
I don’t have accessory other than my camera.
Do you crop in camera or during post?
I make my frame during shot. I just crop in photoshop the top and the below to have my pictures in 16/9 or 1/2.4 because I like cinema frames. As there is not this option in my 5D…
How do you go about learning new techniques?
I’m just thinking about an idea and I’m searching the good way to do it. I like to find by myself because it’s the best way to develop your own style.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and where?
Behance because there is incredible stuff there, facebook to exchange easily with people, tumblr and my website.
Do you ever get photographers block, and if so what do you do to get inspired?
Yes it happens often when I shoot a lot. I just stop few days or few weeks until I feel the need to shoot. I’m doing nothing special, just live my life with friends, with my wife, going to cinema, shopping… lol
How much personal work do you shoot?
50% of my work is personal work. It’s important to shoot for yourself, for creativity and to improve your technics.
Do you plan on purchasing any new gear? If so what are you eyeing off?
A rig with a follow focus to make personal movies.
Which photographers inspire you and why?
I’m not inspired really by photographers. I’m more inspired by a detail in a picture. It could be a light, an attitude of a model, or a composition. I like the work of a lot of photographers, with different style.
If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
Archaeologist or rock star 🙂
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
The most important advice is to find your own style. I know it’s difficult to innovate but even your style is not in the trend, being honest in your creative process is really important.
Become pro is just to have some clients.