On his third trip to India, French photographer Thierry Girard is a walking lens. Capturing everything in his mind’s eye before transferring it through his camera, the Frenchman who hails from the northern side of the country has a story to tell of his Asian sojourn.
With a writing career, a little juggling in movie-making and even radio, Girard is always on the look-out for the quintessential story. But photography is his ticket to travel.
Having been hooked to the camera since he was 13, he shares, “The draw to photography is the fact that you’re alone and facing the world alone; that perspective is different and is an experience.” Meeting new people, clicking their pictures and the lives they live in is his fairy tale.
In the city to deliver a talk titled ‘My Photographic Journey in Asia’, Girard tells City Express why clicking photographs in India is tricky.
Trigger happy finger
Clicking mostly scenes from life, Girard describes his photography as shots from a “vernacular landscape”. So what does he see when he clicks a picture?
“I’m not particularly looking for something when I photograph. I’m interested in how people behave in the streets, in situations or any other context,” he explains, continuing, “I use digital cameras, film and a large field camera. So the feel is different with each.” If there isn’t a set frame of mind while shooting, how does he decide he’s clicked the right picture?
“(laughing) I wait. Sometimes, I wait for five minutes, sometimes more. I set my camera and just observe. You just know when the picture is right,” he says, informing that the longest he’s waited is for about half an hour.
Having travelled extensively, Girard has had the pleasure of shooting at various locales and cultures. His most favourite locations though, have been in China and Japan.
“I’ve been travelling to China on and off for the past 10 years. I found photographing the people in China a very intense experience.”
His most favourite photograph is that of one take on the river Danube. “It was in 1995 or ‘96. I took a long journey down the river Danube in this little boat. When I finally reached the sea, looking at the Black sea from my boat was also a very intense moment that I treasure.”
Picture perfect India
Girard who writes extensively for his blog and other publications, says that photography for him isn’t like journalism. Having been inspired many times by writer Pierre Loti, Girard says, “Photography is way to travel. Loti, a writer from the 1900’s has often been an inspiration. I follow his footsteps outlined in his book ‘L’Inde sans les Anglais’ (India, without English).”
Though this is his third trip, Girard has mostly been in the South, Tamil Nadu dominantly. “I’ll be travelling to Varanasi and Mumbai, but Hyderabad is the Northern most I’ve been thus far.”
So what makes India interesting? “The challenge when it comes to photographing India is avoiding the easy cliché. For me, I’m looking at capturing the time lapse. There is a lot of modernity and antiquity in the same space here.”
‘My Photographic Journey in Asia’ will be held today at the Alliance Française of Hyderabad, Road no.3 Banjara Hills, at 7pm. The talk is open to all and is in English.