By Jaison WIlson
New Delhi: ‘Black and White’ style is the best medium to express the solitary emotion and vitality of nature and wildlife, believes French photographer Laurent Baheux whose photographic repertoire concentrates on animals’ daily life.
To him, duotone accentuates the magnificence of their attitudes, their vividness, and their emotions.For nearly the past two decades, the 51-year-old Baheux, a native of Poitiers has been traversing across wild Africa–the Savannas, plains, jungles, and wetlands.
“All I want to present is what animals are representing — the abundance of life on Earth”, Baheux said in an interaction.
For me, there is no difference between animals and humans in terms of photography technique. When I take a picture of a lion, a giraffe, a polar bear, or a bison I have the same approach as when I photograph people. I try to catch the animal’s unique personalities and expressiveness, as well as their strength and sense of freedom, he said.
In 2013, he became a goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in a campaign combating poaching called ‘Wild & Precious.
He is also an active member of environmental protection organizations such as the WWF, the Good Planet Foundation, the Jane Goodall Institute, and the Cheetah for Ever association.
With his unique approach which rewrites all the rules on wildlife photography, he strives to capture the personality and humanity in every animal as distinct individuals. Baheux adopts the role of wildlife portrait artist, where aesthetics and sensitivity take precedence over a more documentary style.
Close-up or misaligned shots, noise or grain, stark and deep blacks, he explores every possibility to magnify his subject rather than simply showing it.
When I first started in journalism in 1994, I worked only with black and white silver films. Because of that experience, I have always had an interest in, and an affinity for, this technique. Later, when I was expressing my approach to photographing wildlife, I realized I was only seeing it in black and white, Baheux describes his journey as a wildlife lensman.
He also spoke about his fascination with the African continent.
When I first began photographing Africa in the early 2000s, I was still working as a photojournalist for international sports agencies. My African trip was a personal one. There was no specific target, no pressure, and no brief. I started capturing amazing African wildlife for my pleasure. And that changed my life both professionally and personally. From there on, I continued exploring all those territories where wildlife can express itself freely, and capturing some memories in black and white. Most of my art about the animals of Africa, America, and very short of Arctica is featured in galleries around the world. I’m also fortunate to work with a great international editor that follows me in each new b&w project, the teNeueseditions, he said.
About the man-made destructions of the planet, he said, “I believe people are fed up with shocking images of destruction, poaching, and deforestation – even though those images are important to share because we all must know what is happening on our planet. I don’t know if there is hope and unfortunately, I am not optimistic about the situation of the wild on Earth.”