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Who am I?
Not easy to talk about oneself… I would much rather talk about forests and mountains, or about photography technique, but since there is no way to avoid it… First of all, a short civil registration status: I currently reside in Reunion Island (a small tropical volcano in the Indian Ocean, which is a French territory), I am 32 years old, I live with my girlfriend and my son, which is 6 years old (err no, apologies, 6 and a half years old, it is important for him). I am a professional photographer, that is I try to make a living from this full-time activity.
Looking at my portfolios, I might give the impression to be a little bit schizophrenic, since two different photographers in me are struggling.
My first identity is that of a lone, free and wild creature: one of my obsessions is to reveal a Nature that is as intact and primitive as possible, where human beings remain discreet and leave tenuous tracks only. I dream of a primordial world, covered with jungles and boundless pristine forests, scattered by infinite silence-crowned summits, drowning into a skyline that is always pure and saturated with sumptuous colors. In the end, all of these subjects can be seen in my Nature and landscapes photographs…
My other personality is more sociable, since I am also interested in the natural beauty of my fellows’ bodies, and more specifically the women’s ones. As a naturist, I consider nudity without any complex, and I am rather militant in this respect. With, sometimes, a lot of sensuality, but without ulterior motive, I strive to show that innocent nudity should be seen as the most natural state of human beings, and that it is possible to appreciate the bodies’ beauty without falling into libidinal voyeurism or getting brain-washed by the all-mighty “glamour” style.
How, therefore, could I conciliate the savage and the civilized in me? One day, having suddenly agreed with each other, both my personalities got the brilliant idea of throwing some fragile, totally nude, young women, into secluded and merciless territories… and take pictures of them, trying to grant as much importance to the models as to their environments. The foundations of the project A hundred thousand years of dreaming were laid, since these photos ended up composing the first chapter, Symbiosis.
(To be continued…)
A few pieces of my story…
Summer 1991, in a forest in the Alps
The small Nicolas, with his brother Arnaud, among the Alps larches (click to maximize)
Wallowing on the floor, covered by larch needles, I am hoping that the breeze will stop, for a few seconds, shaking the columbine bells which are on the other side of the lens. The light of the undergrowth, filtered and diffuse, dyes the flower’s corollas in a deep and eerie ultramarine. The time has stopped. I don’t remember how much time I have been lying here, waiting and keeping the eye in the viewfinder, but it has no importance anymore…
I am 12, I am on summer holidays, hiking with my father in the Vallon du Lauzanier. I lived, in a tiny village called Faucon in the Ubaye valley, the two most beautiful years in my whole childhood. Therefore, after four other years spent in a Mistral-lashed gray suburb, returning to the alpine lawns and larch woods makes me drunk with bliss…
This very day, magic and unique event, my father has accepted to lend me his camera — a Nikon FM — after he explained me how to use the focusing system and the integrated exposure meter. Until now, the only camera I ever used is a compact that was offered by my godmother: a bare plastic box with a tiny sheet of polycarbonate as a lens, without any other control than the shutter button. Thus, my father’s reflex finally allows me to take real photos, by bringing every single capture parameter under my total control!
Not wanting to waste the film, I take much care of the picture settings: I very carefully adjust the focus thanks to the viewfinder-integrated split-prism, choose a wide aperture on the lens ring (I know it has an effect on the depth of field, hence I want a blurred background to bring out the flower), and rotate the shutter speed dial to the value that is indicated by the exposure meter needle. My father has chosen a 100 ASA film, so I lack some light in this dimly lit undergrowth: I know the shutter speed is too low, especially with these air streams which shake the flower… Well, as soon as the breeze calms down (but will it be sufficient?), I arm the lever, stabilise myself as much as possible, and trigger the shot.
I am 12, I am on summer holidays and I just took my first photo. Later, seeing it on paper, I can notice that it actually is a bit blurred, as I feared, but at last, to my mind it is definitely perfect, and this is my columbine…
Winter 2004, Saint Denis, Reunion Island
This photo is the first one I ever took, after receiving the camera which changed my life... (click to maximize)
10 a.m., still idling in my bed. Why on Earth wake up when there is nothing to be done in a single day? I am thinking back about the progress of my life, asking myself when and where I flunked, and how it could have been going on if other choices had been made. After some brilliant results in school and high school, then… hum… much less brilliant ones in sixth-form college, I had thought I would become a fighter pilot. Despite this, I finally ended up in a computer science course in an University Institute of Technology — abandoned in spite of excellent grades — then in a Faculty of Linguistics — an error which has never been followed up on. Studies were not meant for me: it took some time for me to understand that I am able to learn only by myself and without constraints.
In Reunion Island, I thought I finally could start my career as a computer scientist, networks and operating systems administrator. But in this small land, the new system I trained myself for is nearly unheard of, and nobody needs my skills, despite the hundreds of spontaneous applications I sent. Thus I turned to a few small jobs as a technician and repairer, then I ended up working for six months as an automaton robot in one of the island’s large companies. End of the road…?
However today (I had the courage to get out of my bed), I receive a news that is about to change my whole life. Having been out of work for many months, the unemployment insurance informs me that it owes me a substantial amount of arrears. Two months later, I get my hands on my new investment: a Canon Digital Rebel, my very first genuine camera. It is the beginning of the adventure…
(To be continued…)
Nicolas Rainard, french author-photographer, specialized in Nature and landscapes photography, female nude, spiritual art, living in Reunion Island (Le Tampon 97430, Reunion Island, France).
Member of the french Professional Photographers’ Union (UPP)
Siren : 532 449 113 – NAF : 90.03A (Création artistique relevant des arts plastiques)