Interview No. 048: Alexandre Buisse

alexandre-buisse-chopicalquiAlexandre Buisse- Chopicalqui

Interview mit Alexandre Buisse

Date: 2009/12/24

About Alexandre Buisse

I am a 24 years old French photographer, currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. I picked up a camera four years ago to accompany me in my hikes in the Alps, and things have grown from there. I am now specializing in mountain landscapes and climbing photography. I am also halfway through the obtention of a PhD in theoretical computer science. My portfolio can be seen on http://www.alexandrebuisse.org, and I have been posting one photo every day for almost three years on my photoblog http://www.aperturefirst.org. I have also just started working on a book on mountain climbing photography, to be published in a year or so.

1. What makes a good photo for you?

A good photo is one which has something to say, which tries to engage the viewer in order to communicate its message. I don’t really care about the technical merits as long as an image has something sincere to say. In my own photography, this message is often one of awe in front of the magnificent landscapes I can see in the mountains. I also want to express how insignificant humans are in this environment, and how it takes tremendous efforts just to stay alive. A good image is one that makes someone I have never met understand what I can feel.

2. What do you not like in photography at all?

I don’t like effects used for their own sake, cheap tricks and silver bullets. Whenever the technique becomes the end rather than the mean, then photography becomes a futile exercise which holds no interest for me. And when that behaviour is pushed to its limits, you get the endless pixel peeping and camera dissections that is sadly becoming so widespread.

3. Which book helped you most in the development of your photography?

I started only recently reading about photography, but two books that had a strong impact on me are David Ward’s “Landscape Within”

and “Landscape Beyond”.

They are considerations on nature and landscape photography that I find extremely relevant to my work, and they are beautifuly illustrated by Ward’s large format images. As an adventure photographer, I also benefited a lot from reading Galen Rowell’s books.

4. Which internetlink would you advice other photographers?

I would recomment other photographers to spend less time on the internet and more time shooting, for one thing. But the two websites that I appreciate the most are Mike Johnston’s “The Online Photographer” (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/blog_index.html) and Michael Reichmann’s “The Luminous Landscape” (http://www.luminous-landscape.com).

5. How would you describe your photographic style? What is characteristic about your photos?

That is a hard question to answer, and I would rather leave it for others to judge my work, but my photography has once been described as “being all about drama”, and I think it is a fair judgment. I am interested in extremes, be it in scale, danger, wilderness or simply beauty, and I hope that it shows in my photography.

6. What was your most intense photographic experience?

It has to be my climb of Nevado Chopicalqui, in Peru. This is a 6345m (21,000ft) mountain in the Cordillera Blanca, my highest point so far, and it was moderately technical but exhausting physically and mentally. Being able not only to access such amazing locations but also to take pictures while climbing makes me feel truly privileged.

7. What is your favourite tool/equipment when you are taking photos?

My camera bag, because after lugging awful shoulder packs for so long, I finally found a near perfect solution with the ThinkTank skin belt system, which goes just above my climbing harness, doesn’t interfere with the backpack, leaves all my equipment readily accessible, is light and distributes the weight on the hips as it should. But most of all, because as any good equipment should, I forget that it’s there when I’m not using it.

8. Who is your favourite photographer/ your photographic idol?

It would probably be Galen Rowell, with Ansel Adams as a close second. Among breathing photographers, I have great admiration for people like Jimmy Chin and Andrew Burr.

9. What is in your fridge at the moment?

Nothing! I emptied it before leaving tomorrow for a week of ice climbing in Norway.

10. What is your favourite music/ your favourite musician?

Icelandic band Sigur Ros comes to mind first. I also really like Calexico and Radio Tarifa, and a couple thousand more bands…

11. What advice would you give to an ambitious photographer?

Shoot what you like shooting, master technique but don’t get fixated on it, shoot with what you have and stop worrying about equipment. And have fun. Lots of fun.

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