Jean-Michel has worked in photography since the 80’s and well we can safely say that he knows his stuff! His images speak for themselves and they really portray the emotions he was trying to convey. The collaboration with Jean-Michel and Bolette has been ongoing for a few years now, and have worked on a couple projects already!
For Jean-Michel, working with horses is an experience alone, witnessing first hand how the horses react around him, they become intrigued in ‘what is this man doing’, the horses become daft and almost cooperate in their own fun way.
What’s your angle/approach?
I have a different angle or approach depending on the subject and what I want to do. When I take a city's portrait, I work with the composition and the contrast, for the horses I try to find emotion and energy. If it is a portrait, I try to give a feeling of what the person is or what he/she wants to be.
Can you tell us about the books you created?
It is now more than 10 years since I worked with my publisher Assouline. It is about architecture and all the pictures featured are in Black and White. The idea behind is to show different architecture from different cities around the world. I have covered: Paris, New York, London, Tokyo, Istanbul, Venice and Jerusalem.
What attracts you the most when taking your photos?
The process of attraction depends on what I try to do, it is always very different. It is so exciting to think and observe differently. It is not easy and it takes time to adjust.
Where did the inspiration come from with editing most of your images in black and white?
One day I saw a picture from Richard Avedon, it was a black and white print with so many corrections for the black and white laboratory. I was fascinated by it, it had so much precision. I remember it was more than 50 corrections, Richard Avedon ask , more darker, more lighter, more contrast and so on… it was just crazy and at the same time I decided I want to have the same degree of rigour. From this time Black and White became my obsession.
Who are your icons?
Richard Avedon, Norman Parkinson, Yousuf Karsh, Sarah Moon, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and so much more…
Whose work has influenced you?
Ansel Adams with the technique of Zone System (it is a technique to have the best exposure and development.)
What’s your favourite shoot to date?
Each new photo or new project become my favourite shoot.
How did you and Chateau de Fontaine first get to work together?
Horses were a good reason to work together. Bolette has a very precise vision about how to present Chateau de Fontaine. It matches very well with my universe, also it was just evident that we work together.
Which was your favourite shoot with Chateau de Fontaine?
It is always the last one. I work in the present and in the future. All that was done in the past is just motivation to create new works. Also for the moment I stay in the middle of the horses and wait to have nice expressions, emotions and so on…
How was it working with horses?
It is not easy all the time but the horses are incredible when you are patient. I am just at the beginning of a new series about horses, the best is ahead !!
You are now based in Normandy, how do you find living there compared to Paris?
Well, before moving to Normandy, I lived in Ireland for 4 years to finish some books I was working on and I wanted a quieter place to work. Then when I came back to Paris it was just so busy and noisy, and not good energy. So I wanted to find something close to the City, we rented for 3 years and finally said we want to stay here. So now I live an hour away, it is a lovely area. But if you asked me 10 years ago would you ever leave Paris, I would say I’m never leaving! Now you ask me if I want to go back, I will say I am not leaving Normandy. But I go back for work and my Wife has her own store there, so we enjoy it much more when we do visit Paris.
Only a few weeks ago, Jean-Michel opened up his own Gallery in Paris situated at 2 Place Jean Pierre Lévy Paris 8, right next door to his wife's jewellery store.
Explore more of Jean Michel’s work on his website jeanmichelberts.com
Photos provided by Jean-Michel Berts.