Jul 22, 2020
Baptiste is a Swiss lawyer and self-taught photographer who creates outstanding images playing with geometry, contrasts and object association. His creative process starts with the liking of a light, texture or place, then he devises an image to go with it, and if the idea stays for long time, he goes and makes it. As a result, we can see carefully composed scenes that involve a mix of fun, irony and risk.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
BJ - Thanks to you for having me on board! Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, where I currently live. I used my time at university to travel as much as possible under the guise of learning new languages. I lived in Vienna, Bologna, New York and Moscow. I went to law school, became a lawyer. This January, after nine years with my firm, I decided to dedicate myself 100% to photography.
am - How did you start in photography?
BJ - I started in my early teens, first borrowing my parents' cameras. At the time, cameras were a common accessory in adults' bags and pockets; every supermarket had its photolab.
I never stopped. Partly due to the fact that many of my friends went abroad as well; taking pictures and sharing them was an easy way to stay in touch and live the adventures of our respective daily lives together. In parallel, I became more and more interested in the work of professional photographers. In 2005, one of my best friends opened an art gallery. One of his first exhibitions was dedicated to Guy Bourdin. It made a big impression on me. It was a major trigger for my desire to do photography.
am - What inspires your work?
BJ - Hard work and the talent of others. I view a lot of art (of all kinds and eras). I like to see what has been done in the past, what is being done now, to see correspondences between art and artists and to try to find new associations of ideas.
I would say that what makes me like an image is the mere sheer aesthetic more than the subject itself. I like to make rather geometrical compositions, to play with contrasts and to associate objects that we wouldn't imagine together. I like an object, a texture, a light, a place and I try to find an image that goes with it. When I get lucky, an image appears in my head. If it sticks long enough and kind of obsesses me, I try to realize it. Some other pictures are spontaneous snap shots.
am - We can see in your images fun and irony, is this correct or how would you describe them?
BJ - It’s possible. I like to put people and things in singular situations. For me, It’s hard to describe them, as I don't know what makes me come up with an image. I just have the feeling that I like them or not. It feels right.
I am glad with your question, as of course, the satisfying result for me is that people feel something when looking at them. And as my images are undoubtedly in some way the mirror of my soul, I surely take “fun and irony” as a compliment.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
BJ - There are so many of them, I can’t choose… can I name them all?
I’ll limit myself to a very short-list of photographers: Horst P. Horst for his exquisite-timeless-sophisticated compositions; Guy Bourdin for his twist of weirdness, his vivid-delicious colors becoming whole part of the photography, his intriguing-charismatic-sensual women, his elegant-mystical eroticism; Luigi Ghirri, because simplicity meets perfection and the feeling of being alone in the world; Torbjørn Rødland, a beautiful, soft, almost holy light, and weird scenes.… let’s add Edward Steichen, there is no word to explain; Robert Mappelthorpe, when evil meets holy; Francis Giacobetti, so versatile and, without further explanations, Irving Penn, Harry Peccinotti, Emma Summerton, Carlijn Jacobs, Marius Sperlich, Lou Escobar, Henrik Purienne and some Swiss, Arnold Odermatt, Hans Feurer, Karlheinz Weinberger and Lukas Wassmann and…
am - What is your favourite movie?
BJ - Top Gun! More recently, a movie making a lasting impression on me was “Let the Right One In” by Tomas Alfredson.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
BJ - Unfortunately, I watch more photos online. I only possess a few photobooks. If I had to choose one it would be “Francis Giacobetti”(Assouline); the cover photography is a masterpiece.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
All images © Baptiste Janin