Interview with Laurent Baheux

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Laurent Baheux is a french photographer, born in Poitiers in 1970. Laurent Baheux was attracted to journalism and editing at first, rapidly discovering a passion for photography and becoming a self-taught photographer.

His devoted practice and his knowledge of the sporting world opened the doors to the top press photography agencies. From then on, he covered the main international competitions and channelled his energy towards conditions of speed and extreme demand. He has always been fascinated by Africa. [Official Website ][Dodho Magazine]

4239-Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

Who are you, as a person and as a photographer? Tell us a bit about your personal life.

I was born and raised in Poitiers region, in the west of France. I lived not in town but in the countryside where my parents wanted to raise awareness and educate me about the beauty and fragility of nature. Now, I can say that it was the beginning of my inspiration for wildlife. For sure, I particularly thank my father taught me the patience to observe animals, insects and plants around us.
Four years ago, and after many years in Paris, I went back to the Poitou countryside with my family. We live today in a very old house in a really small pretty village.

How did you get into photography?

At first, I was attracted to journalism and editing but, rapidly, I was discovering a passion for photography. I started by local sport events and the illustration of my press reports. My devoted practice and my knowledge of the sporting world opened the doors to the top press photography agencies. From then on, I covered the main international competitions and channelled my energy towards conditions of speed and extreme demand. I can say that I am a self-taught photographer.

2873-Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

The harmony between nature and wildlife, would you describe that as the point of departure for your photos?

It is true that I am impressed about the serenity and the harmony between nature and wildlife. Everything is connected and the animals are totally adapted to their environment. I always feel a lot of happiness when I leaved the urban setting for traveling in wild areas. I think there is nothing more powerful than the strength of Nature and in the same time, it is very fragile and precarious.
Can you tell us something about your post-processing of your images?
Postproduction means more time. I work slowly, I need to absorb my photos before I can process them. To get enough hindsight, I need to free myself from subjective issues related to the shooting; I need to keep my emotions from interfering with my work. I never process my pictures in the heat of the moment ; I need several months, sometime years before I start digging into my files. During the post-processing, I particularly chose high contrast scenes, with texture and dust. Noise does not disturb me, as I think that it gives a quaint atmosphere to a picture, that fully matches my vision of nature and wild species. I work with Lightroom that is perfect to highlight the contrast I want.

Five words that describe your photography?

wildlife, black and white, instinct, sensitive, emotional

8860-In Tribute to Ansel Adams, Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

How do you find and select the places for your images?

My first aim is to photograph wildlife, animals and landscapes. So all the places I go are wild areas : reserves, parks, bush… I started by the African continent that it is one of the most famous and incredible place to observe wild fauna. I follow my work on Africa and in the same time, I have decided to travel in other places that make me dream. America is one of its. I was just looking for wide horizons and landscapes in the footsteps of Ansel Adams who was a visionary figure in nature photography and wilderness preservation. His talent and his activism are a model for me. It has been a kind of gamble and I have not been disappointed. The american territory is incredible, huge and changing. There are mountains, plains, deserts with panoramas that take your breath out. Same as in Africa, one may feel that he is alone in the world.

Your idea of the perfect composition?

For sure, it is a very subjective idea because nothing is perfect. Personally, my perfect composition is an original one. I like surprising the public, thinking about the identity of animals with my portraits, feeling the joy of freedom with my landscapes, making a smile or crying sometimes… I am satisfied when people react to my images.

What’s your useable-to-unusable ratio when you review images from a travel ?

May be 1 useable for 100 unusable.

You’ve just been given a blank check to go shoot anywhere in the world for a week – where would that be and why? What’s your dream project?

One week is too short to do something good in photography… When I work, I need a minimum of 4 weeks. So, for a week may be I would like to go somewhere I could relax and, why not, in a heavenly spot… Hum, the Marquises Island would be not so bad !

8786-Monument Valley, Arizona USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing what you do?

The first challenge when doing landscapes photography and wildlife photography is to combine all the required components (animal, sun, shadow, backlighting, clouds, wind, etc.). It is impossible to figure out how long it may take to meet a specific animal, with the appropriate light and atmosphere. It is the same for landscapes: it takes time to be at the right place and at the right moment. It turns into a frustrating quest that requires heavy means and luck as well.

What would I find in your camera bag?

I use a Nikon 24×36 reflex with a range of lens from 16mm up to a 800mm that I just bought and that allows to reach a higher quality picture than my old 600mm. It is also lighter and easier to work with. A must for who respects the required safety distance from animals and carries his material for the whole day.

What do you feel is one of the major mistakes new photographers make in pursuing a career?

I have no feel about that because I believe that each photographic career is unique.

What advice do you have for photography enthusiasts looking to go professional?

Work, work and work…

What can we expect from you in the future, any new projects you’re working on?

I explore all the territories where wildlife can express itself freely.

8925-Monument Valley National Park, Arizona, USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

7961-Antelope Canyon-Arizona, USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

6976-Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA © Laurent Baheux

4611-Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

4239-Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA 2014 © Laurent Baheux

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