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Posts Tagged ‘fine art photography’

Gaétan Charbonneau’s New Book Cover

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on February 17, 2015

Héloïse d’Ormesson edition has used one of Gaétan Charbonneau’s images on Marc Michel-Amadry upcoming novel. A second book cover from Héloïse d’Ormesson edition.


A courtesy of Millennium Images.


Monsieur K


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On nature images done in studio

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on October 4, 2012

I often find interesting highly conceptual nature images done with artificial light, from an artistic point of view. It is not only the stark contrast of nature vs controlled lighting and enhanced computer  imagery , it’s also the classic duality of nature vs artificial setting/urbanization that makes the idea more interesting when treated with this aesthetic point of view.

Adios all!





Roots, Lorraine, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©/Millennium Images.


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To edit or not to edit with prints, that is the question

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on January 3, 2011

Yesterday I picked up the magazine where this image actually appear, Tricycle/The buddhist review, winter 2010. On these occasions I always have flashes of the state of mind I was in when I created the image.  Sure enough the tittle of the article  is “Mind like a Mirror/ The shimmering reflections of consciousness“, written by Andrew Glendzki.

I recall that at the time I was literally driving with mirrors in the back of my car, not quite sure how I would craft my final ideas. It didn’t pop up immediately, I had mirrors on the grass, under my harms, pieces of mirrors broken on the sidewalk and a couple of other concepts. The only thing that kept me searching for an idea I could be happy with, was my habit of printing my work, and looking at my prints side by side. It was the continuity, the flow of my mind looking for something, but not quite getting there that I could see on these prints. The only thing I could understand clearly was that I was getting closer with every picture, hence the final idea that appear here (model Brandon Queen holding the mirror).

That is precisely the point with editing. Of course it is to select the so-called final image(s), but it is above everything else, to see hints and traces of the future work that will take form. This method make sense for me, even (especially!) in an age where computer screens are taking away so much of our attention. Who knows, working this way might even be a revelation for those who never tried it out, a bit like having a shimmering reflections of consciousness… !

Adios all!


The Mirror, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau © /Millennium Images.


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One step beyond the decisive moment

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on November 17, 2010

Le Boulingrin, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I was looking at this image recently, and I went along thinking about the decisive moment, the concept elaborated by Henri-Cartier Bresson, a pioneer in the history of photography, one of the greatest photographer of our time.
This notion is embedded with a number of interesting nuances. The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that there is a very fine line between the decisive moment and what I would call the expected moment. If one stand on a street corner with a well composed visual background and wait for an interesting silhouette, perfectly profiled to fit a predetermined space, does this stand for a decisive moment, or does it become more of a expected moment?
The idea of the decisive moment has been explored long and large, and could be ready to morph into higher grounds. For the sake of clarity, how can we describe a more precise notion of the decisive moment, while remaining faithful to the initial principle that something can never happen twice in the exact same way? How about the unexpected moment? Something that would distinguish planned imagery disguised as being something related to the decisive moment. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, what’s unclear is tagging a concept for something else, stretching the definition just a bit too far to remain true to the principle.
So, from now on, let’s reach for this ever elusive unexpected moment, just like this great image that went so  fast in front of my eyes, and that I missed last weekend…
Adios all!

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When less is more in graphic design: part two

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on September 20, 2010

Jonathan Franzen/Freiheit, published by Rowohlt. Image by Gaétan Charbonneau ©/Millennium Images.
Since I have been licensing my fine art images for book covers for as long as I can remember, I have always pointed out that in graphic design, less IS more.
I had a recent discussion with a graphic designer group on the Net, where I pointed how important the notion of “restraint” was. That keeping things simple was in the vast majority of cases, a much better option over using a ton of  graphic elements piled on top of one another, with sometimes, overly busy and unfortunate typo usages.  In fact, the only question to ask is: are all those graphic elements crucial to the jacket design?
If the response is NO, eliminating all the unnecessary will greatly simplify the reading of the cover, while making it at the same time a lot more punchy, something that is not a luxury once the book is seen on the Web page tiny thumbnails.  This jacket cover with an image of mine is the closest thing relating to a perfect book cover, and  one can hardly ask for more.
Simply put, this jacket is a poster child for effective book cover design.
Adios all!

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Art and the viewing context

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 28, 2010

The Subterranean, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©


Is Art now mostly created by the viewing context?
It is interesting to think about the criteria used to define an image as a work of art, or not. The continuous flow of images distributed over the internet has given me opportunity to reflect on this. What if a work of art was now simply the consequence of it’s viewing context?
Has anybody felt slightly uncomfortable seeing the image of a child dying from starvation, beautifully printed on chromogenic paper, framed and matted in a art show? Is this image of a dying child a true work of art?
I have seen images in art galleries that were both technically and aesthetically inferior to some of the images I have seen in specialized contemporary stock agency. If for example, the shinny close-up of a mouth, printed on glossy paper and delivered in the mail was instead framed and exhibited in a high profile museum, would this image be redefined as a work of art? Would it be better than some art in the museum own collection? In other words, can the same image be redefined based on where it is viewed? I guess so. It is therefore the intention behind the usage, and the viewing context that will create the work of art, not the image itself.
The notion of discovery will gradually become obsolete based on the instantaneous nature of the internet, making it impossible to determine who did what, first. It is quite possible that the criteria defining a work of art has completely changed, now more than ever, and that the existing remains of the19th century conception of a work of art is being challenged to become a thing of the past, once and for all.
Adios all

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When less is more in graphic design

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 21, 2010

CANADIAN POETRY 1920 to 1960.
Edited by Brian Trehearne, published by McClelland & Steward Ltd, cover design by CS RichardsonImage: Gaétan Charbonneau©
When less is more, in graphic design.
I just did this book cover with one of my Black & White image, CANADIAN POETRY 1920 – 1960, from Brian Trehearne, published by McClelland & Steward Ltd, cover design by CS Richardson.
I first saw the book on display this week while looking for something else, a bit by accident. From a distance, the simplicity of the design was what attracted my attention in the first place.
Who said Black & White doesn’t sell anymore? That for the sake of convenience it is better to shoot in color since an eventual customer interested in licensing the image could simply strip out the color information? Book designers are a busy bunch. Always on the rush, I am not sure they have the time to imagine how a color image can translate into a monochrome, they need to see what they need on the lightbox, and the sooner the better.
From my perspective, it’s an entirely different story to go out with a digital camera knowing that no matter the subject, color information can always be stripped out, rather then using a camera with B & W films. On these occasions the mind sets in, and it then becomes possible to visualized the world in B & W on a level difficult to achieve otherwise.
Adios all

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Street photography

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 5, 2010

Homme et son soulier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I’ve always been intrigued by the standard notion of “street photography”.
It’s one thing to adhere to that definition, and it’s quite another to find a personal style within the specific set of rules that constitute that definition. I had numerous “existential crisis” around the act of fitting inside the street photography notion until I had reached a relative peace of mind.
While there is clearly a sense of the decisive moment in every street photographers work, (a notion first pioneered by Henri-Cartier Bresson), I often find myself questioning the known boundaries of the street photography movement in a way that would still allow me to take advantage of its aesthetics strongest points.
Technique has obvious impact on the working mechanic of the movement and I recently managed to depart from traditional 35mm format cameras to see what would bring a bigger format in adding a 6 x 4.5 medium format camera to my arsenal. I saw that it clearly brought a more contemplative dimension to my work, since larger formats tends to slow everything down.
Another aspect that I often question is the location. What constitutes the street, in terms of territory from a pictorial point of view? Can a rural, non/asphalted location be considered “street photography”, and if not, why exactly? How pre-fabricated  (urban) the location must be to tag an image “street photography”? How big the city must be in order to engineer street photography imagery? Is it possible to come up with that type of imagery in a village? With a forest in the background?  These are relatively mundane questions at first, but upon further inspection questions like these remain important to ask for anyone interested in street photography and it’s place within the history of photography.
Doing street photography is one thing, and liking it is easy, but to find a personal vision within the traditional context of the definition is quite another thing that requires a massive amount of dedication.
Adios all!

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The End

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on June 19, 2010

Four balls of paper/ represented by Millennium Images. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
While I am not a statistical freak when it comes to my own work (I just shoot what I like, sorry for being so intuitive), an interesting stats emerged in regards to the images I license for the book cover market. Out of the last 10 jacket covers I licensed, 7 were licensed from a publisher based in Europe (with distribution also aimed for the European market).
It gets more interesting when I look at these numbers more closely since none of these 7 cover jackets were made from images I shoot in Europe. In fact, out of these 10 covers, only one was made in Europe (Madrid). Unless the story plot ask for a specific location, say, a night in Amsterdam, it is quite clear that an overly descriptive location can become an obstacle that can interfer negatively, in a world with a strong tendency to be more culturally unified.
It is something I always knew was happening, but to see it translated into statistical data neatly align on a graph relating to my own work is a bit of a revelation.
Adios all & happy world cup!

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Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on February 26, 2010

AURALAND BOREALIS/ All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
Seeing AURALAND BOREALIS, pictorially speaking.
One of the thing that most amazes me with photography is walking/driving in front of a familiar area and not seeing the picture that lies within.  Familiar surroundings simply refusing to be part of my pictorial world. That is until, click, one of these days the mind sees it all. The best example I can think of this was when I finally saw the image that resulted in AURALAND BOREALIS.
The picture is from a building I drove by a couple of times a week, for so many years. Each and every time I glanced at it, wondering how great the location was, overlooking a river with the access to a bridge leading to Montreal. The building is even more striking at night in winter, reflecting it’s huge concrete mass into the icy river. But that remained the overly classy image I just didn’t wanted to see. It took ILFORD to come out with the 3200 ASA film/120 format, to lead me to the right idea, something I could be satisfied with.
With the camera hand held, using this film that I process myself gave me more latitude to light up the scene with a long exposure, and to fill in flash. The points of light are from lights on the balcony.  A touch of color on the brightest part of the images and here I was reaching my objectives, shaking off my own inertia to confront a subject I wasn’t really seeing, pictorially speaking. The image walks the fine line between photography and illustration, brought by the level of abstraction provided by night photography, the reversed negative and the added color on the light streaks and on the background.
Limited edition of 50/archival digital prints available.  Please contact me for further details.
Adios all

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