INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS JORION
Thomas Jorion is a French photographer based in Paris. Self-taught, he uses an analog camera to give the viewer the emotion and the vision of places and buildings now hidden by the veil of time. It is precisely the emotion that guides him in his travels and that he brings back every time in his photographs full of a history and a glory that we can imagine and dream of but today only a memory remains.
All images © courtesy of Thomas Jorion
How did you start your career and how did you approach to photography?
I started my career at 33 even though I had my first camera when I was 21. I studied law and started working with a suit for a few years before getting into what really made me tick in life.
I approached photography as a passion. But above all I continued to photograph what I have always photographed: ruins. When I got my first camera at 21, that's what I immediately took a picture of. In the end, I only made my passion professional.
How do you choose the places to photograph, while traveling, for example? Can you talk about that? How do you proceed on your work also concerning finding information and various permissions?
I choose the places that I photograph according to the emotion they provoke in me. It was created as a kind of relationship. I have to take pictures before I go to another place. Usually if there are no emotions, there is no photo.
For research, in general I try to find a minimum of places before my departure in order to define a circuit. Then when I am in the field I check other places. I ask questions of people I meet. Sometimes I ask for authorizations, but quite rarely because the places I photograph are generally open.
Your shots make think. The viewer sees a glory and a story of which only the rubble remains but what do you see in these places?
I see a new beauty in the things that have lived. I am touched by objects with a history. A time-worn, cracked mug is worth more to me than a new mug from mass production.
I also sometimes see the vanity of the man who devotes a lot of energy to building empires that are finally only cards castle.
Can you tell us about the series made in Italy?
I have always been drawn to Italy. It's a country where I feel good, where I feel free. I like everything, the culture, the landscapes, the history, the people. My only regret is that I didn't learn his language. This series on palaces and villas is largely an excuse for coming to Italy often. More seriously, I had photographed palaces in 2009, but it was during a stay in 2016 that I realized that a series had to be produced on the subject as it is so dense and varied. I am very happy with the result.
In one of your interviews I have read that it is not the idea of rubble or abandonment that
you are interested in but most the idea of representing the patina of time. How much does history influence the choice of the place to represent?
As I said, history in Italy is everywhere. It is therefore easy to find the patina of time. It is even sometimes maintained or even created artificially. This is also a subject that interests me to dig. But to answer your question, for me it is the emotion that counts the most rather than a specific story to tell because in Italy history is everywhere.
The stylistic choice is really interesting, the use of analogue and the natural lights, almost as a kind of a documentary use. Can you tell us about this choice?
I take all my photos and make many series with this camera (large format) and films. There are several reasons for this. First of all I like the aspect ratio of the image. It's not a square, it's not a rectangle, it's in between. Then there is the very slow speed to prepare and take an image. You have to take the time and think about it. Not photographing and relying on post production. I also like the imperfection of the negative which sometimes gives unwanted results. At first I was very annoyed by it. Now I see something human in it since it is imperfect. At lastfor natural light, I think it's the best one because it is part of the place. It is part of understanding space. You have to understand it and play with it.
In an ideal exhibition what would be the soundtrack that would accompany visitors to the exhibition?
I think I would like some jazz. A little mysterious jazz, a little muffled. I think it's a great music to dress up and fill a pretty empty space with white walls.
What do you think could be the evolution of your photography, where do you think it will take you? Upcoming projects?
The evolution of my photo today goes a little towards the portrait and also sets out again towards introspection. But I don't know yet what will come out of all this. Sometimes it scares me a little, but inspiration takes time.