Paris-based Antoine Doyen has been a professional photographer for 15 years. He’s spent those years trying to be better, very rarely meeting his own very high standards. Recently, though, he has become more content with what he’s produced. Since his shoot with Jean-Paul Demoule for the bi-monthly French magazine Socialter, Antoine has turned over a new leaf, one that leaves him a little more satisfied.
Socialter’s mission gives voice to ideas striving to emerge in public discourse [“peinent á emerger dans le débat public,” according to its website]. Oriane Juster, the Art Director and Photo Editor for Socialter, has been following Antoine on Instagram for years. When she had to find a photographer to shoot Mr. Demoule, her first thought was Antoine.
Mr. Demoule, a French archeologist, has been a bit revolutionary in his studies and teachings. Demoule seems to harken back to the Socratic method of questioning and, despite being retired, Demoule remains in the public eye, teaching and sharing his insights. The shoot for Socialter took place at the Institut National d’Historie de l’Art, where Demoule still presents from time to time.
We spent about an hour together walking around finding the light. I was trying to be as spontaneous as possible, using very little equipment. The light and the lines were the most important part, and I wanted it to feel very natural.
Despite aiming for a more pared down shoot, Antoine had given it quite a bit of thought. Stripping down the production and showcasing the natural beauty was not without its challenges.
Demoule was easy to work with, but the place wasn’t very photogenic. It was a challenging space to shoot in, which made it fun. He was very easy-going, so I could take some time finding the natural light and figuring out how to use it.
Embracing a space’s natural light isn’t a revolutionary concept, but Antoine was testing himself. After years spent chasing the “perfect picture,” he set down his equipment, went without assistance, and chose to rely solely on himself.
I came with my camera and three lenses, and that was it. I wanted to confirm I could do what I wanted without much help or equipment. It gave me a little more control over the situation and made the whole thing much more spontaneous.
Antoine learned about Demoule in the few days before the shoot, listening to podcasts and reading articles.
I kept listening to his voice; he’s very well-spoken and reserved but at the same time a bit playful. I wanted to be able to emphasize his lengthy career while not being too reverential because, at the same time, he’s a rebel.
With spontaneity in mind, Antoine directed Demoule to follow him as they chased the light. When arriving in the perfect spot, he let Demoule do whatever he wanted. He talked with Demoule, asking questions about his work, and captured the moments in between, granting us a peak into the hidden depths of the archeologist. In some shots he seems reserved and sage-like, in others, with a gleam in his eye, downright devilish.
My whole job is to find the balance between what the person has to say and the mood. I don’t want all my photos to look the same, but I do want to keep them cohesive.
Antoine has achieved that sense of cohesion through his particular blend of warmth and sophistication. Yet, each shoot is dynamic and enticing in different ways, as he paints complex, and intriguing characters for the viewer.
I had a great time shooting this sympathetic and interesting person, and the magazine loved the images, so it was a swift operation (which is great in itself).
The last few shoots I’ve done, especially since Demoule, have really pleased me. I finally feel content with my finished product.
See more of Antoine’s work at antoinedoyen.net.
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