Another year gone already, and as always this time is one conducive to reflecting on the year past. 2017 has been somewhat unique for me, with major changes in my personal life (I got married to the most wonderful woman) and the continuation of my exploration of other domains of photography, specifically portraits and humanitarian work, with a side trip in conflict journalism. This of course doesn’t mean I am anywhere close to stop shooting adventure, my first photographic love, but I love being able to marry all these different disciplines and let them influence my work in so many different ways.
In the Alps, winter means skiing but also ice climbing. And I find there is no better way to work with this fantastic medium than at night, using studio flashes. This was my second night ice climbing shoot with Aurélien, and is yet another proof of how crucial having a strong, motivated athlete is to any adventure photoshoot.
This shoot, for fabric manufacturer Pertex, almost got canceled a few times as the weather forecast was pretty dreadful. We ended up going anyway and shooting in a ridiculous windstorm, which turned out to create an amazing atmosphere, especially with the rising sun.
I spend a ton of time in the Mont Blanc area but also love exploring other mountain ranges, so it is always a treat to head to the Écrins, a few hours to the south. This was from a shoot for British retailed Cotswold Outdoor.
Amazingly, neither Vivian nor myself had ever been to the top of Dent du Géant, an iconic and not too terribly difficult peak at the France-Italy border. This was as much a photoshoot as a fun day out between friends, and perhaps this is why the images turned out so well!
You can’t go very wrong with sunsets on glaciers, but to get to this one we had to run to this position right after a lovely dinner at Refuge des Cosmiques as we were losing the light faster than expected.
I particularly like this image as I feel it gives a good feeling of what being on that knife edge ridge. Not pictured, however, is how loose the whole thing was. I have rarely been more scared of a whole mountain falling off (with me included) than on this particular section.
And sometimes it is all about being on the right place at the right time. We were on our way to a climb quite far away but passed a pilot about to take off in perfect light. This image basically composed itself!
Though I have given up trying to work for paragliding brands, the sport is still very dear to me and I was glad to do a couple of photoshoots for the local Chamonix school, les Ailes du Mont Blanc, through the year. This one was all about trying to use the wonderful autumn light of late September.
Trying to shoot Vallée Blanche from the air is something of a logistical nightmare. My tandem pilot and I botched the take off so couldn’t line up properly with the planned models. Thankfully, a random solo pilot happened to be in the right location and saved the day!
Portraiture is a domain I feel I am barely scratching the surface of yet, but also the one I am getting most passionate about. This recent image of pro rider Gaspard Piccot on his home turf is one I feel works pretty well.
Trail running can be a very challenging sport to shoot, as one tends to cycle through the same three or four standard images (wide angle from the shoe sole, silhouette against the sky, mid-distance on a winding trail…) so I was really happy to get an image showing a more genuine moment, with a runner really pushing herself.
I can’t say that horse riding is a sport I had ever shot before, but when my wife asked me to capture what it feels like to be riding her beloved Sunshine through the local fields, as she has done since a young age, this is what I came up with.
I also had a couple of humanitarian jobs this year, including a trip to the border between Rwanda and the DRC, documenting the work of a NGO providing higher education to refugee learners. In this shot, the soon-to-be-graduate teaches in the local elementary school, already giving back to the community.
The highlight of my trip to Kiziba Refugee Camp undoubtedly was visiting the students in their homes and getting to meet their families and hear their stories.
Finally, something a bit out of the left field, as I participated in the amazing Conflict Photography Workshop last November, learning how to behave in dangerous situations. Though I have no intention of photographing active conflicts, I felt it would be a valuable addition to my skillset and could come in extremely handy given some of the places I travel to on a regular basis. The last two days of the workshop consisted in a full on military scenario with plenty of actors and pyrotechnics. Though I got plenty of action images, this soft portrait during a lull in the fighting remains my favorite image.
Here’s to many more adventures in 2018!