Corinne Wargnier | Paris

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Hello, Corinne tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
I’m a self-taught street photographer based in Paris. I’m also a novelist. My first encounter with photography dates back to my childhood. My father had a Leidolf Lordomat 35mm camera that he took everywhere. It was mainly used to photograph the family or holiday landscapes. The camera was omnipresent. It was, in fact, this “object” that initially fascinated me. The way the film was inserted into the camera for example and development of the film. This was all so mysterious to me! Then I gradually became interested in photographers. A documentary on television about the photographer Gilles Caron, who died very young whilst in the field in Cambodia, was certainly very instrumental.

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You are a street photographer. What fascinates you so much capturing life in the streets?
Telling a story, I think. Trying to capture the emotion of and empathy for my subjects, while also composing the shot in a beautiful way. In fact, that’s what I think tends to be the meaning of a street photographer’s work.

Your work is mainly shot in Black & White. Ist there a reason for that?
One of the reasons I shoot in black and white is because it lends a certain timeless quality to the images. I always think in black and white as soon as I prepare to take a picture. Even if the scene I have before me is very colourful, I immediately imagine it in black and white, as if I was a photographer in the past. Another reason is that it helps to emphasise emotion, and gives added depth to the image. I also must confess that I have no talent as far as colour is concerned!

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How important is travelling for you?
For me travelling is initially to discover cultures other than my own, to meet new people in their own environments. Travelling to a new place allows me to observe different things. It’s a great way to broaden my horizons, and fresh sights are a great new source of inspiration: having my eyes open to an unfamiliar world is a fantastic way to get myself out of a creative rut. Shooting street photos in a new city is amazing and provides a wonderful photographic rush.

Paris is a fantastic and constant source of inspiration for street photography. It is difficult to get tired of this city. But it is also necessary to travel to diversify my work. I also get stimulated and awed by what is different and new.

You submitted a body of work you shot in Vietnam. Tell us a little bit about it.
I knew nothing about Vietnam. The little I knew about its culture I gathered from briefly perusing a few books before leaving. So it was difficult to know what to expect. It was a leap into the unknown. I wondered how the Vietnamese would react to me intruding when taking photographs, how I could express my presence just as much as my discretion. And I was very lucky. Each person I met gave me the opportunity to capture a moment of their life, and this trust caused strong emotions to well up in me. I can clearly say that the Vietnamese are a generous and endearing people. I hope that the body of work you see reflects this.

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Did you feel a special inspiration while shooting in Vietnam?
What I felt almost immediately is that Vietnam is a country full of photographic opportunities. I understood that my desire to photograph everyday life in cities and rural areas would lead to discovering and experiencing something beyond simple observation.

You work as a novelist. Do you think that writing has kind of an influence on your photography?Through reflecting on this subject I have often reached the conclusion that the two mediums, writing and photography, are in direct opposition. Photography is a representation of the truth, writing fiction is an invention, a fabrication. At the same time, writing and photography are intimately linked. I don’t write without visualizing the scenes that I describe, and I don’t photograph without aiming to tell a story. They both somehow combine, their influences work both ways.

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Is there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
I have always and I continue to visit many exhibitions. I believe that the first influence comes from there, even if it is subconscious. Seeing in detail and taking time to discover the work of other street or documentary photographers is very rewarding. You are immersed and impregnated with feelings from it, making you just want to go out onto the street and pursue your own photographic work.

But if I had to name just one photographer, it would be Henri Cartier-Bresson.

What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
Certainly, the freedom that I feel when I’m walking in the streets with my camera, without ever looking for anything specific but always observing, hoping that maybe a scene or a face will captivate me.

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A big thank you to Louise Jablonowska for the French-English translation.

Website: https://www.corinnewargnierphoto.com
Instagram : corinne_wargnier