In this showcase series we feature the wonderful Paris street photography of Hugo Journel. He spoke to Photophique about this series:
Hugo, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 31 year old amateur photographer. I live in Paris. My work is quite far from the world of photography. I am a lawyer. The possible link? … Maybe the rigour and precision required in my profession with the keenness of photographic composition.
I acquired a taste for photography during my travels. I had been travelling around the world for six months in 2007. I began to take care of my compositions. At that time, I used a compact camera and the photography was restricted for me to travel.
Since three years I have had a DSLR camera, I go out to take pictures only. Once I’m out, I do not see the time passing and it is difficult to stop.
What inspires you as a street/urban photographer?
I avoid postcards pictures. I like to show what is not seen, to reveal the aesthetics of an ordinary place to surprise. The urban environment is filled with extremely visual scene if photographed in a certain angle. The most important are the human element and light. The human element brings life and dynamism. Light provides contrast and power.
Paris is a great playground for urban photography. The architecture is varied. We can go several times to the same place and rediscover it by finding new points of view, by seeing in a different light.
So I can stay long in one place. I spot my frame and I expect that the right conditions happen: the crowd goes elsewhere and someone enters my frame in the desired space. Then, I have to trigger at the decisive moment, in Henri Cartier-Bresson’s words.
Once, on the steps of the Opera Bastille, while I had the eye to the viewfinder and I was looking for the best frame and expecting a person goes, a man came to see me, puzzled with the photo I could take. I showed him the views taken previously on the screen of my camera. He was surprised that this place could give such a photo.
He asked me to take him in these conditions and I sent him the picture. He worked for the Paris Opera and kindly sent me invitations to attend to the general of the next show. I prefer to photograph in black and white. From shooting, I think black and white. The eye focuses on shapes and textures. The picture is thus more readable.
What equipment do you use for your street photography?
For 3 years, I have been using a Nikon D90, my first (and only) DSLR camera. Coming from the world of compact camera, I was immediately captivated by the viewfinder which helps to compose your frame. You fully appreciate the geometry of urban lines and see better unwanted items.
I mostly use a 18-105mm Nikkor lens lens. At my level, it is not necessary to have the brand new device, the more upscale one, to have fun and take pictures that you appreciate.
For image processing, I use Capture NX2 and Lightroom. Treatment is important for me to enhance the contrast but the picture has to retain its natural. I try to be more accurate as possible when I take photo and it is rare I crop a picture during the post processing. Capture NX2 is a good tool for selective change with U Point. I often use black & white control points.
Do you have a new series planned for the near future?
For the moment, I continue my series of urban snaps. It is endless, and as I said, it is what I like.
Hugo also has a photography book, Macadam Silhouette, this is available via Blurb books.
Photophique has express permission to publish these images and Hugo Journel retains full copyright to all photographs featured in this Paris street photography series.