Passion projects are an important part of any photographer’s portfolio, and St. Louis based photographer Lou Bopp is no exception. Every year, he makes the time to photograph a subject that fascinates him.
My projects are something that interests me and would make for a compelling story. This particular project was based on my curiosity about absinthe and all of the myths & the dark history that surround it. So I decided to go to the source.
The mysterious nature of absinthe dates back to the late eighteenth century France, where the high-proof spirit was believed to have hallucinogenic qualities. This led to several countries banning the liquor, although recent years have seen a resurgence in Europe and the United States.
In November, the St. Louis photographer let his curiosity lead him across the Atlantic to a small town on the French-Swiss border, where he was granted permission to shoot at Distillerie Armand Guy.
Pierre Guy was my main contact and is the 6th generation to work at his family’s distillery– how cool is that? And although their copper stills & absinthe recipes have been in the family from the get-go, not many of my other pre-conceived visions came to fruition.
Despite the taboo surrounding absinthe, Lou found that the distillery was a place full of warmth and community.
Every day after the distillery closed, people from their neighborhood– retired workers, friends, etc. appeared and had a makeshift absinthe party. The absinthe table was open, most people brought cheeses, breads, sausages, or whatever they had. They were great people, it was an absolute blast.
Shooting went smoothly, even with Lou’s limited French and solo operation. He found that working on his own meant he pushed out of his comfort zone and found new ways to solve problems.
The learning didn’t end at the lens, either. Lou discovered some of the best tricks for drinking absinthe, including a surprising way to dilute the drink.
At least in Pontarlier, one of the homes of absinthe, the key is the pour. First, you use a tall glass that blooms near the top, with a stem. Next you pour your absinthe, then you pour clean, ice-cold water from a pitcher high above the glass. It can be messy & splashy but oh so good!
The project has just made its way into a gallery on Lou’s site, and he’s written his own post about his experience on his blog. Now, he has the chance to sit back and appreciate the final product. Perhaps he’ll even celebrate with a glass of his new favorite drink.
Retoucher: Danny Hommes, Pixelography
Pre- and Post-Production Support: KathyReps