Q&A - 10 WITH STEPHANE GAUTRONNEAU

Q&A - 10 WITH STEPHANE GAUTRONNEAU

March 05, 2021

Stéphane is a self-taught photographer & an adventurer. He started his photography career as a fashion photographer in New York which evolved into traveling the world for many assignments capturing unique and pure landscapes. He works mostly in 4x5 large format with a focus on frame and scene lighting. He regularly contributes to magazines such as Elle, Vogue, Paris Match, Madame Figaro, The New York Times, Vanity Fair US, Harpers Bazaar UK, Stern, Terres Sauvages. Stéphane also photographs many personalities like Zaha Hadid, Pharell Williams, Nicolas Hulot or Richard Branson.

Stéphane is currently working on a 30 month long project where he is shooting a documentary capturing life in the Pyrenees mountains where he currently resides. 

We recently asked Stéphane 10 questions and here's what he had to say.

WELCOME TO 10 WITH STEPHANE

Landscape photo by Stéphane Gautronneau. In gallerie Arles at Anne Clergue Gallerie.

1. WHAT'S THE GREATEST THING ABOUT BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER?

In my case it is related to the passion of creating. I thought I was going to become a sculptor or a painter but I ended up finding myself creating images; moving and still ones. Nowadays my house is my photographic studio and it has been this way for the past 20 years or so. I do what I love to do.

2.  HOW DOES BEING IN NATURE MAKE YOU FEEL?

Stronger.

Herd of elephants in Zimbabwe by Stéphane Gautronneau

3. WHAT GOT YOU INTO INTO PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY? 

Freedom.  The ability to do things by yourself if needed. For some time I thought I would become a wood artist or a sculptor, there are parallels between that and photography/videography for me.  My photography career started when I was a 22 years old in New-York and brought me to this point where I can do passion projects and have more control of my projects. It has been an amazing journey so far.

4. YOUR FAVOURITE SHOT EVER TAKEN? 

This I don’t know. I seem to be always focused on the next favorite shot that is upcoming. 

I also get caught up in thinking about how the shot I just took could have been that favorite shot if something was done a bit differently or if the lighting could have been more like this, etc. Does this happen to any other photographers? 

One photography that comes to mind and which I will never forget is the underwater photograph I shot of Sir Richard Branson. 20 meters deep, Mr. Branson looking at me without any scuba diving gear while piloting the 'NeckerNymphe' (his own personal submarine) with women dressed up as mermaids swimming around him in the open water. This was great memory!

Often I have better memories about my experience taking the photograph than the actual photograph itself (maybe I shouldn’t say that, haha).

Sir Richard Branson, Necker Island, "NeckerNymphe"by Stéphane GautronneauThis specific photograph has been published worldwide in: Stern / Paris-match / Stern Magazine / VanityFair / The Independent. 

This photograph had no retouch, straight from raw. Took us three days to accomplish it. 

5. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE ANY STARTING PHOTOGRAPHER?

My path initially started off vastly different than I imagined. First working as a studio photographer in the New York fashion scene for many years, I then moved to still-life to try and perfect lighting. I still think this is one of the best ways to teach yourself the important aspect of photography and especially lighting.

My heart was and always has been in the outdoors and it kept calling me and pulling me in that direction. I took every opportunity I could to shoot in nature. By pushing myself to do mostly these kinds of projects that were outdoors, I started shooting for luxury magazines which were sending me around the globe on long distance travel assignments.

My path took me to some amazing spots on earth and I met some of the most beautiful animals along the way. Mountain gorillas, elephants, sharks and lions came very close to my lens many times.  From these trips I took back with me many landscape photos and a number of them ended up being displayed in galleries.

Living in the Pyrenees, France half of the time and the other half in South-Africa, I am extremely fortunate to live so close to nature and wildlife but I still do not consider myself to be a proper wildlife photographer.

Guhonda the oldest mountain gorilla in Virunga mountains, Rwanda. by Stéphane Gautronneau

Guhonda, the oldest mountain gorilla living as today into the wilderness of the Virunga mountains, Rwanda. AirFranceMadame / Terres Sauvages / Billionaires magazine. Private owner in lithography as seen into Parisian workshop ANTHESE.

6. YOUR SECRET SPOT THAT NEVER GETS OLD?

Haha…No idea. For me, the real secret is to continue doing what you love, what is driving you and you are passionate about, that is in a way my secret space that I live by and keep close at heart.

7. WHAT DO YOU SHOOT WITH?  

Analogue 

Linhof Technica 4x5, large format  

Mamiya 7II  

(Kodak / Portra & Tri-X)  

Digital  

Fujifilm GFX100, 50r and 100s  

+ Recorder Atomos Ninja V (for video)  

+ Cambo Actus / Rodenstock and Mamiya 6x7 lenses  

Red Epic (for special need / advert.) 

8. IF YOU COULD ONLY SHOOT WITH ONE LENS FOR THE REST OF  YOUR LIFE WHICH ONE WOULD YOU PICK AND WHY? 

Rodenstock DIGARON HR 70mm.  

(Large format lenses adapted to all my bodies as today / mostly mounted on a  Cambo Actus) 

Lithography as seen into Parisian workshop ANTHESE by Stéphane Gautronneau

9. YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHY SPOT/LOCATION?  

The location is not so important to me. It is more about how I see the final photograph. Or the final version of a sequence into a film. 

Capturing urban and nature landscapes is equally exciting in terms of the experience creating the photograph or a movie sequence but as said, the location is not that important to me. It is more about the way I will use my frame and scene-lighting in an artistic direction that will fit what I want to achieve. Then comes the choice of equipment, lenses, light and the selection of the final settings to create what I want.

Landscape in gallerie Arles at Anne Clergue Gallerie by Stéphane Gautronneau.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FEATURE OF THE FJORD 60-C OR  FJORD 36?  

Super light. Waterproof. Rugged. Not looking like a photography backpack but more like a classic solid adventurous accessory.  To summarize: designed for professional photographers that are looking for the ultimate photo backpack. 

I am in the process of directing a documentary across the Pyrenees along a 30 months timeframe so I use both the Fjord 60-C and 36. There are two of us, my assistant and myself so it is great to have both bags. Everything that we need to pack up for the photo and video documentary gear is fitting into these two bags. When I'm alone, I like to travel light and I try to go for the 36. 

It does allow me to go further, definitely.

Check out more work of Stéphane here;

www.stephanegautronneau.com

www.instagram.com/stephanegautronneau

NYA-EVO Fjord 60-C in Graphite Black by Stéphane Gautronneau.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.