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Matinee: 'Who Are You? Portrait Of A Photographer' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

15 August 2015

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the ninety-eighth in our series of Saturday matinees today: Who Are You? Portrait Of A Photographer.

Rémi Chapeaublanc is a portrait photographer but not the kind with a bank of monoblocs set up before a seamless background in a catered studio. In Martin Zarka's short video (which was long enough to win the 2014 Sony Short Documentary Competition), we find out what kind of portrait photographer he is.

Or do we?

He lives in Paris, he tells us, but doesn't think of himself as a Parisian. Behind his goggles and in his motorcycle helmet, we see his eyes if not his face.

He is a photographer, he says, and fond of old bikes. He has tattoos and a bird-like crest for a hairstyle.

"When you look at me, what do you see?" he asks.

"When you look at me, what do you see?" he asks.

His personal style, he remarks, arouses people's curiosity. He wants them to ask what a portrait photographer asks.

"What's behind what I can see?"

To find out, you have to look beyond the pose, the hair style, the clothes. You have to watch what people do.

Two weeks after buying a motorcycle, what Chapeaublanc did -- on an impulse, he tells us -- was ride to Mongolia. Arousing people's curiosity.

They didn't speak French. He didn't understand their language. They shook hands. He stayed with them. He watched them live their lives. And he became intrigued with how they live those lives with their animals.

Zarka illustrates this dramatically in two shots as Chapeaublanc tells us about it.

He had packed along his photo gear and decided to frame the question with his photography.

He shot them all the same way, individually with one shallow light, an unlit background, man or woman or animal. And then, finally, even himself.

"Who is this person?" his stark images ask, more as if they were an interrogator than a sympathetic photographer flattering his subject with makeup, a hair stylist and beauty dishes.

A curious interrogator, though, who would really like to know. Who are you? Who is anybody?

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