Interview with Guillaume Gilbert
I was born in France 35 years ago, at a time where going analog was pretty much a default choice. I grew up in a suburb outside of Paris, just far enough from the bustle of the big city, in a quiet, very middle-class environment that gradually fuelled a casual desire for something bigger. Probably that graduating in political science and international affairs provided me the necessary knack for growing aware of the world in its odd complexity, soon leading me to travel the world and expand my horizons. An extended trip in Vietnam when I was 21 was the first big leap, and this is when I started shooting film, inspired by new visions I had to capture someway. This is when it all started, when I became a photographer at heart.
Look around, there’s (twisted) beauty everywhere.
“Where” and “when” are closely intertwined, for the sake of embracing randomness to the fullest. Circling back to a few moments that triggered my passion for street photography: a series of trips in Asia in my early twenties where I shot cheap color film, overplaying vividness to match the ecstatic memories of a reckless youth; moving to New York when I was 25, modestly channeling the work of masters of black and white photography (Robert Frank, Daido Moriyama or Bruce Davidson, to name a few) like a docile student; travelling by train from Paris to Beijing in the winter of 2012, probably the most fulfilling chapter of my photographic journey so far.
Street photography is perfect for an indecisive person like me. No need to plan or overthink, the object of your attention usually comes to you unexpected. It took me a few years to actually take some distance from my work -although I resent the term “work”: shooting has always been a natural, unforced process- and rationalize some of my fixations. I guess my photography mostly deals with social alienation and odd, gritty poetry. Because I’m not the most daring street photographer, I will more likely be attracted to people lost in thought, not quite there. A silent crowd who finds a resonance in each of us -and incidentally easier to capture unnoticed.
Photography might be the only thing I never asked myself why I was doing it. To me, it’s just a perfect way to overturn reality while remaining fully aware of it.