Anthony Prévost – My Life in Analogue

Huck Magazine – December 2013

A sense of wanderlust comes across in Anthony Prevost's images, revealing his fascination with new lands and peoples.
Anthony Prevost has always had a hunger to discover places and people, but it was a chance encounter that inspired him to explore his fascination through photography. After leaving his home Lille he passed through many countries and cities, before a a meeting with Japanese photographer Yuri Shibuya while backpacking in Asia set his life on a new course. Her infectious passion with analogue photography encouraged Anthony to refocus his life from business onto photography and he has been developing this passion in his new home of Madrid.

When and why did you start shooting pictures?
“As a graduate in International Business, photography wasn’t supposed to be a big deal for me. But 10 years ago I went backpacking in Asia for a year, and that’s when I met Japanese photographer Yuri Shibuya. We became friends and her passion for analogue photography was contagious, I guess. From then, I started on my own path with photography.”

What is it you love about film photography?
“Film photography forces you to concentrate, to think more about what is it you want to show and capture. It also helps you improve your technique and define your interest within the medium. Analogue photography also creates a lot of expectation. From the moment your finger snaps the shutter until you actually get to see the image, your mind goes crazy, recreating the image hundred of times. No matter how good or bad the photo eventually comes out, this stage of expectation is delightful. Digital can’t compete with that! The same goes for the printing process. I really enjoy the time spent in the darkroom; just like meditation, it’s all about being focused on one thing. It’s art and craft at its best, and then the final print always ends up being something unique: an actual object.”

What are you passionate about – interests, hobbies outside of photography – and how does this inform the images you take?
“I have always been eager to discover new places and people, which I have done by travelling and living abroad during most of the last ten years. You can see this interest coming through in my earlier work and my portraits. The concept of identity – applied broadly to landscape, nations, cultures or individuals – has been recurrent in my personal work. I also have a broad spectrum of interests that range from skateboarding to design and architecture, which are all linked by the aesthetics of lines, I suppose. Again there is no denying it shapes my photographic gaze as much as my content: I have started to focus on the city and the effects of architecture and urbanisation on our daily life. Finally, I’ve been giving the arts, both contemporary and classic, an increasing interest over the two last years. As a result my photography has become less descriptive and somehow more conceptual.”

Who or what inspires your work? Any other photographers?
“I used to feel that I had to study and be knowledgeable of the works of as many photographers as possible: the masters and the emerging talents. That can be quite nerve-racking, as there are so many things happening in photography. You also tend to copy the visual style of others, rather than developing your own. Now I tend to think that the best inspiration to create something new is linked with non-visual mediums, such as literature, music or study. They force you to represent ideas or feelings taken from other areas in your own authentic way. This being said, photographers have obviously a huge influence on me. Just to name a few: Paul Graham, Joel Sternfeld, the “New Topographics” photographers, Rineke Dijkstra, Trent Parke, Alec Soth, Todd Hido, Bryan Schutmaat, Yann Gross, Richard Renaldi, Graeme Mitchell… The Spanish photo-book scene is also incredibly active, creative and daring.”

What do you do for a living and how does photography fit into your life?
“For the last two years I have been working as the assistant of the Spanish photographer Fernando Maquieira on both commissions and personal projects. This has helped me get to the next level. I have also started to do my own work, mainly within editorial and corporate portraiture. I do online tuition on photography and digital processing as well. Before that, I used to teach French for foreigners most of my time while living in London and then Madrid, so that I could have spare time to study and work on photography. Teaching now takes about 20% of my time while photography gets the remaining 80%. So far, my progression has been good.”

How do you share your work? Zines, books, exhibitions, blog etc? And what’s the editing process like for you? Are you trying to tell stories with your images? What are those stories?
“I’ve had my own website for about 2 years and use my blog and social networking to display my work in progress. I also like to have something “real” to show when I am done with a project, and I tried to adapt the output to the story. I’ve just released We Are Black Thunders, a cheap A5 soft cover, staple bound photo-book. Also, I am now hand-printing a selection of the “Coming Home” photos, that will come with their passe-partout in a finely-crafted box in a limited edition of 10 copies. I’m all about adapting the object to the subject. Editing my own work is still hard to do. I need time to see things clearly. It’s something I really can’t hurry and I always need to come back various times to pick the right photos or sequences. It’s always about telling a story – although it doesn’t have to be an obvious one. As a viewer, I like to be left confused and provided with various levels of story so that’s what I try to do with my own pictures. Doing this helps the reader to experience the story on a personal level. Most of my photography deals with my own concerns.”

Are your photos staged/posed or documentary? Can you describe why you choose to shoot in this way?
“While I also enjoy doing staged photography, most of my photos are definitely documentary, although not always in a very descriptive way. I think fiction can’t beat real life and the process of documenting is something I enjoy very much. Most of the time you take boring pictures, and think you’re wasting your time being here and there. But then suddenly the right place, situation or move strikes you and you’re excited all over again. I love the searching process; I can’t stop staring at faces, places, and objects… Documentary allows me to deal with things that feel important for me to be told; things I wouldn’t know how to express without photography.”