WHITELIES met Romain Laprade, an up-and-coming French photographer who mainly shoots spaces and still life. He collaborated with many fashion brands including Hermès, Tomasini, Chloé and the Yves Saint Laurent museum. The young artist recently chose to make a living from his passion for photography, although he graduated and started working as a graphic designer over the past years in the capital city.
When we met him in Paris, he chose the art deco bar La Perle located in the Marais area. One can immediately notice there how kitsch the decoration is. Massive oval marble pieces stand on the walls with huge mirrors in between. His chosen venue was in keeping with his style of photography that tends to, purposefully, include old-fashioned, pared-down elements with saturated hues. For his interview, Laprade ordered two glasses of white wine for us to get started.
How are you doing today ?
Today, I’m okay. I just don’t like this weather because there is no light. I am really unhappy in the absence of light.
Is photographer your main job ?
Nowadays, photographer is my main occupation. It hasn’t always been the case. I take pictures since I was 15, but at that time, becoming a photographer was only a dream. I chose visual graphic design studies instead, in Limoges, the French town where I come from. This field wasn’t however concrete, tangible enough for me. Still, I started to work as a graphic designer in Parisian agency, combined with babysitting in the evenings to make ends meet. One night, at a birthday party, I randomly met Germain Chauveau who was Artistic Director at Vogue at the time. I was twenty two years old back then. He interviewed me, I was hired and worked there for four years. This is how it all started.
What did you want to be growing up ?
I grew up in the countryside, where I was really bored. As a kid, I was drawing all the time. I always felt the need to express myself in an artistic way. When I was a teenager, I useed to buy lots of fashion and architecture magazines. I was transfixed on the advertisements and thought I want to take photographs like these. So I asked for a camera for my sixteenth birthday.
Who encouraged you to pursue a career as a photographer then ?
I think two people, mainly, Suzanne Koller, former editor in chief at Vogue’s Fashion department. We worked together for the magazine. I did photographs and graphic design for them. Suzanne saw my instagram feed and she told me “You have to do something with that, to push it further.” She helped me realise that I could have something to tell with my pictures. The other person was my ex-boss Artistic Director: Franck Durand. He offered me my first assignments, he trusted me as a photographer for his clients. It was a turning point for me because at that time I allowed myself to think, that is what I want to do with my life. It also allowed me to have my work exposed, to gain a reputation, to make a name for myself.
Colour is ...
Light. It might sound strange, but it’s based on the fact that the color in a picture is generated by the light.
Then light is ...
Everything in a picture. I almost only use the natural light in my photographies. If I have a photoshoot outside on a rainy day, I’ll postpone it.
Architecture is ...
What I, instinctively, like to shoot more than anything else.
A camera is ...
A wonderful invention, that’s for sure. I personally use a Canon for my digital photographs, and a smaller Fuji X 100 s when I travel. For silver photography I like to use Canon AE1. I love it but I use it less and less, because it requires a lot of time and patience. Although whenever I take it again, something magical happens because you lose control somehow.
Can you name the photographers that mainly influence your work ?
Both Saul Leiter and Harry Gruyaert.
What are you passionate about otherwise ?
Plants! I have a lot of plants at home, I love them. I need them to surround me. In my photography, I’m interested in how vegetables connect with architecture. I’m quite obsessed with that. Whenever you go to an office for example, you can find a twenty-five year old plant lying there, although, you totally forgot about it’s existence. It just triggers my curiosity.
Which drink do you usually order in a bar ?
It really depends on the season. A glass of white wine in winter and rather a beer in summer.
There are almost no portrait in your portfolio.
I don’t feel really comfortable with portrait photography. Some people encouraged me to do more portraits, they thought it would be in keeping with my artistic world. I freak out when the main subject of the photograph is a person.
We would like to know you better, can you describe a typical day in your life ?
Photoshoots generally forms the pattern of my schedule and it can be planned at any time. I often carry out the editing and retouch work later at home. Then go to grab a coffee or lunch with a friend. It rarely happens though as I live the hard life of a freelance photographer (laughs) perhaps on a day off. I enjoy shooting personal stuff. You can see my photographs on my instagram account.
How do you use Instagram ?
It’s like a window display, a way of showing my personal work. Only twenty percent of my content is professional, all the remainder is a way of showing what I do. Also, I have to say most of my clients contact me through this social network.
Any music recommandation for our readers ?
I just discovered the last album of the French group Moodoïd. They play psychedelic rock and I love them.
Interview Chloe Cosson