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Interview Street photography

Thierry Clech

Street photography is in its essence photography of chance and of fractions of seconds. To see the unusual and the emotional in this timeframe takes a talented photographer. When I encountered the work the first time the unsual moment caught my eye and the more I looked at the work the more photographer Thierry Clech drew me into his world. I hope these picture do the same for you.

Can you tell a bit about your background (as a photographer)?

When I was young, I was impressed by the technique. It seemed to me insurmountable. I hardly dared to look in the viewfinder. Taking pictures without the automatic mode was a bit utopian. In brief, this camera was the perfect phobic object (the irrational fear being proportional to the desire to confront it). So I started to photograph quite late (26 years old), and then, over time, made more and more.

I love street photography because it‘s a no mercy struggle with time. Everything appears and disappears without stopping, within a few hundredths of a second. We must be constantly on the look-out.

I don’t want to play the role of "professional photographer" and act as such. Photography is for me a bit like a clandestine activity, without any social game, and which allows me to achieve my dream of invisibility. I don’t like to stage me as a photographer or stage what I photograph. I prefer the beauty of chance, of the « not premeditated », the permanent risk of failure, the vibration of what is captured in a real-life situation.

What kind of pictures do you take and why?

I work without any constraint, in black and white. I choose my trips and the themes I want to treat.

My pictures record the passage of time, scenes seemingly mundane but which contain, if we break of our habits and our visual laziness, a part of magic, surrealism or sadness.

Street photography requires to be discreet, almost invisible. I’m rather reserved by nature, and this attitude suits me well : being caught in a maelstrom of images, that nobody control, but which everyone participates, and achieve take in this vast « moving painting », anarchic, often unsightly, some small rectangles harmoniously organized. That happens often in a kind of trance, a little hallucinated. Any photographer, I believe, knows these moments of excitement when he took pictures with frenzy.

My images show my intimate view of the world, with respect, wonder and melancholy. Indeed, I try to record on film what I see - light, movement, landscapes and people - as if I see them for the first and last time, like a child discovering the world, and an old man getting ready to leave it.

Can you tell us a bit more about the project “Hic et nunc”?

Rather than a project, “Hic et nunc” is a collection of images that have the strongest relationship with this idea of the moment. I.e., once again, what we see for the first and last time. Everything only happens once. Even if we have a feeling of repetition in life, there are always variations, of light, of movement, etc. Our thoughts, and our mood too, are constantly changing. “Hic et nunc” is therefore the conjunction of all these circumstances.

What would be your dream creative project?

My dream creative project is always the next. In this case, a book concerning Ukraine, to be published (by Snoeck Publishers) next September. By the way, it’s possible to participate in its funding and pre-purchase it :


Which camera and lenses do you have?

I work with two Leica M7, one with a 50 mm and the other a 35mm. I also use, in addition, especially when the light is low, a Contax G2 (with a 35 or 50 mm).


Which other photographers, designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?

The three photographers who touch me the most, and whom I admire the most are: André Kertész, Sergio Larrain and Robert Frank.

© Pictures by Thierry Clech