Fresh Faces: Q+A with photographer Guillaume Hébert
If you’ve missed the ambience and romance of travelling like we have, then look no further than the young photographer,
Guillaume Hébert. A fresh face out of Montreal, Canada, who has been crafting his own poetic and thoughtful visual language for only a couple of years.
Hébert has carved out a small space of the internet where a European flavoured nostalgia still exists. Reminiscent of a long lost era when time slowed down, and people actually looked up from their phones. In this newly visually over-obsessed world, it’s nice to see young photographers like Guillaume translating a more elegant world for us all.
We sat down with Guillaume to ask him a few questions about his process and his plans for the future.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in photography?
I come from the suburbs, not far from Montreal, where I now live. I started getting more seriously into photography around 16 years old. I bought myself a cheap 120mm, and I was shooting whatever I found that had the potential to be beautiful and odd to my eyes. I then applied to study photography in college and got accepted. I guess I was always the black sheep at school, being last minute, just shooting what I saw, and not properly preparing/explaining what I was doing. The goal for me was to produce something appealing to the eye. Quickly after college, I was accepted at The Print Atelier, which I’m still a part of. Getting accepted there was just a confirmation that my work was different and worthwhile.
Your work has a very sensitive and, at the same time, intimate feel to it – what are the feelings you are trying to conjure with your work?
I always feel like I’m writing a book. I guess I’m trying to tell people a story of some sort without giving too much information or meaning to what I do because, like the person who sees my photographs, I do not know what’s on the next page. I’ve created a bit of a mystery around my pictures, but to be honest, I know that they show my fear,
my passions and my heart. I am clearly still searching for the true meaning behind all of my work, but it’s part of the artistic process.
It is so hard to gain exposure nowadays as we live in such a visually obsessed culture; as a new artist, how do you find ways to engage with audiences in your work?
It’s hard indeed, but it’s not my primal need to engage. As crazy as it sounds, my goal is not to reach millions of followers on Instagram; sure, that would be awesome, but I don’t concentrate my energy on that. I mostly do the work for me, as a kind of story/journal, searching for something, an answer, or a good ending. By saying that, I find that platforms like Instagram are meaningless (even though I do have an account). By that, I mean that nothing is special anymore; you see everything within seconds. And with those platforms, everyone thinks they can be a photographer even though it’s not the case.
“Nothing is special anymore; you see everything within seconds.”
How do you approach your work in terms of tools and locations? You seem to capture the essence of a location very well.
I mostly shoot digital but film from time to time. Over the years, I’ve developed a method to portray a location properly. For example, I worked at the Montreal municipal court for four years, and every day, during my lunch break, I would walk the streets of old Montreal to take pictures. By constantly revisiting the same place, you unconsciously develop a certain non-written list of things to watch for and look at when going to a new place.
Your work is reminiscent of a bygone era – who are your greatest influences, and what would be a dream place to show your work?
My biggest influence and inspiration is music. Every time I go for a photo walk, I have to have my headphones. But I’d say Brassaï and Cartier-Bresson. For me, the basics of photography are to capture something in a way that only you look at, without changing its nature too much. I would love to travel back in time and be a photographer in the olden days. Everything seemed in order; people were almost dressing in uniforms, there was a sense of structure that disappeared over the years that made photography look easier. I guess Paris would be a dream place for me to exhibit my work.
What will be you working on next in terms of series?
I work more in individual photographs instead of series, just like an individual page of a book, a segment of my story. If I have the chance to travel soon, then that’s going to be my next series. But, for now, I’m going to continue what I do, stay in Montreal, searching for an answer, in search of my next shot, in search of a good ending.
If you liked this artist, head over to The Print Atelier, where you will get 15% off your first order, valid until September 30th 2021. Just use the code 52insights