Low-angle silhouettes, drifting glacier debris, “portraits” of rocks or icebergs, solitary strollers in deserted immensity, rectilinear shadow play… Alexandre Souêtre has a sense of staging and purity. A sense of strangeness and melancholy too.
For example, the strange portrait of a woman with a bare back wearing a woollen balaclava, or another woman in her underwear at the foot of a mountain, reflecting the sun on her telephone screen… Strange too, not to say zany, the group of men pacing the sidewalk in black suits, their faces covered with plastic bags…
Black and white or a predominantly monochrome palette of extinguished colours (except in his latest series, shot in Iceland, Greenland), minimalist architectural sections, pieces of nature (close-ups of rocks or ferrous or volcanic soil), naked bodies or monumentalised by low-angle or backlit shots… His highly polished, even polished style, though very graphic, makes the most of materials: earth, rocks, fabrics, hair… “Our environment, whether natural or urban, offers an exceptional wealth of textures and materials when observed and captured from a certain angle,” the photographer points out, explaining his quest for the rare image in these terms: “I work with silver halide but also with digital […] I tend to choose silver halide for reasons that are often obvious: the rendering is timeless, the colours are irreplaceable, and the images that emerge are sublime, especially for portraits. But digital also brings […] a form of image and texture perfection that is often the preserve of computer-generated images. This perfect, almost robotic rendering goes very well with natural settings and textures, such as rock, water or earth.”
« Photographing Like a Graphic Artist »
Attracted by landscape as much as portraiture, by the “small, [the] close, [the] intimate”, and the oversized, he talks about his dual practice of black & white and colour: “Although I’m rather drawn to black & white, my first love of photography, I also like to play a lot with colour, and often almost more in a graphic way: a subject in colour sometimes draws a palette, and the tones become soft gradations that catch the eye in a unique way. Black and white allows me to concentrate on composition and the interplay of shadows in a pure, almost graphic sense. I like to try to photograph like a graphic artist, and vice versa.”
CREDITS PHOTOS : Alexandre Souêtre