Saturday, 14 May 2016

UN PORTRAIT by Nicolas Laborie

UN PORTRAIT by Nicola Laborie

C'est bon, n'est-ce pas?

Don't worry - I am not going to subject you to a blogpost in French, especially my French. This was, in terms of organisation, arranged quite quickly even though I first contacted Nicolas in October 2015 after coming across his work via Twitter. There were only a few emails between us but I had this distinct feeling that it was all going to come together because we both really wanted it to and every email seemed an important and significant step forward. 

I found Nicolas' website when his name came up on Twitter - I am always a sucker for the Wet Plate Collodion method but the work on his website was particularly beautiful and well, modern. So I wrote to him and he responded and immediately we tried to arrange a date to meet but it didn't happen and before I knew it, we were in May and I had announced that my project was to end. Nicolas was one of the people I pursued in order to squeeze him in before the end and at last we arranged a day when he had an hour to spare - and I was late! I arrived outside his studio, panting and sweating and called him as I wasn't sure I had got the right entrance. He said he would come down. This guy appeared wearing what looked like a butcher's apron which was blotchy with all the collodion, silver nitrate and whatever else he had been getting messy with that morning. He beamed as he walked towards me and I felt very welcome. He took me up to his studio which, like many photographers' studios, was an organised mess. I put my bag on his sofa and noticed the pictures of old Hollywood stars on the wall as I did so.

So, in the end, we had about 45 minutes not helped by a plate which kept sticking. But Nicolas knows his stuff and worked quickly and methodically, scuttling to and fro with an infra-red torch on his head, and we got this shot done and I was so pleased with it. Apart from the wonder of seeing it suddenly appear, I was very moved by it for some reason - I think it is something to do with the method of producing the photograph - each one is totally unique and has the stamp of the photographer on it and the little imperfections were there that day and then apart from all that - there I am with downturned mouth, my DBS scar just visible and a little quiff of hair on my otherwise bald pate. 

We were running out of time but Nicolas agreed to do a couple more including a nude which worked well and we both liked the fact that, in the process, my head was obliterated thereby emphasising the nakedness. Yes, I know there is this question of the difference between being nude or naked and what the two words mean but it doesn't concern me - I am either dressed or undressed and if it the latter, then I am nude, naked, bare, unclothed, whatever.

The time was up and Nicholas showed me downstairs where we said a fond farewell and c'est ca! All over in less than an hour. So, voilĂ ! Un Portrait by Nicolas Laborie. Merci beaucoup, Nicolas!


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