Interview with photographer | Thierry Van Biesen
I was studying to become an engineer when my girlfriend’s brother gave me an old camera. I started taking pictures of her. The guy at the lab asked me where I was working and could not believe I had never taken pictures before. This got me intrigued. I then met a photographer (Serge Leblon, who is still a friend today, 22 years later) who said the lab guy was right and introduced me to a modeling agency. They asked me to test their models. A few months later, I went to NY and was lucky to meet Art Kane. He hired me as an assistant and “lent” me to his friends- Sarah Moon, Arthur Elgort, Duane Michals, Ralph Gibson, Jay Maisel, Dick Frank, Len Jenshel and Tobey Sanford and others. Engineering soon became a faint memory…
Who are some of your favorite photographers and why do you admire their work?
Graphically, I think I owe something to Steve Hiett and Guy Bourdin. Conceptually, I have always been touched by Duane Michals (also something there about “story-telling”). I’m also inspired by Sarah Moon’s poetry. But I also find inspiration in surrealists like Magritte or Dali, or writers like Christian Bobin and Raphaelle Billetdoux (whose lightness and poetic prose never leave me untouched)
What is your greatest experience as a photographer?
Being a photographer. More precisely, as a professional, being asked by a client to illustrate their idea with my vision. That is really exciting.
What equipment do you prefer to use and why?
I use a Hasselblad H2 with a Phase One P45+. I’m happy with the quality I get from that combination. I like sharp crisp images with more of a slick illustration quality to them.
Describe your editing process (i.e. How do you go about selecting, retouching and printing your photographs?)
I shoot tethered to my laptop, into pre-organized files. I try to select my images between shots, so as to have a pre-selection at the end of my day. I then go over that and extract my favorites from the lot. Processing is usually done as we wrap, along with final backing up (we also backup to a second drive during the shoot so as to have three copies of our files by the end of each day). Retouching is of course the last part of the image making process. I print proofs on my Epson 3800.
What sets your work apart from that of others?
People tell me I have a specific visual language, easily recognizable. This is what sets my images apart. On a more everyday work level, they also tell me working with me is like a day off, stress-less and creative.
What are your plans and aspirations for the future regarding photography?
I plan to go on making my images and also making them move as I’ve started to shoot video last year and do find it very exciting too. I also plan to work on a book, and two exhibitions.