Fabrice Forest is a Landscape Photographer from French Alps, Europe. In his words “I think I came to photography, not for photography itself but for the relation to nature I have been taught in the family of farmers and foresters where I grew up. In my childhood, there was also the tradition of hunting but I did not became a hunter myself cause it was not my trick. Many times I was taken with my grandfather to go hunting in the Forez woods. As a child, this was both terrifying and fascinating to experience such a symbiosis with the wild. I think it still influences me. When I started wandering for photography, maybe it was like hunting a similar experience that resources me. The difference with photography is that we “shoot” something without killing but we capture an experience that we can relive and share with others.”
Thanks Fabrice Forest, for accepting our invite. Please read on…
Could you please introduce yourself?
I’m Fabrice Forest, a hobby landscape photographer from the area of Grenoble in the French Alps. I live in the mountains of the Belledonne chain which is my playground for landscape photography.
What first drew you to photography and how did you discover it?
I think I came to photography, not for photography itself but for the relation to nature I have been taught in the family of farmers and foresters where I grew up. In my childhood, there was also the tradition of hunting but I did not became a hunter myself cause it was not my trick. Many times I was taken with my grandfather to go hunting in the Forez woods. As a child, this was both terrifying and fascinating to experience such a symbiosis with the wild. I think it still influences me. When I started wandering for photography, maybe it was like hunting a similar experience that resources me. The difference with photography is that we “shoot” something without killing but we capture an experience that we can relive and share with others.
What kindled your interest in landscape photography, what Inspired you?
Landscape photography is for me a mean to establish a true connection with the wild. So I am not so much inspired by getting high-quality image with perfect light and lots of details but I rather prefer seizing a raw sample of the atmosphere. I am looking for bad and unstable weather and try to focus unexpectedly on given details in the landscape and an original angle or framing. Almost every places in the world have been photographed with lots of details and perfect light or perfect scenery with great sunrise, sunsets with sunbeams, northern lights, rainbow or else. But when you search for that improbable weather conditions then you get a chance to capture pictures that are unique because only you were there, in that conditions, with that subtle light, unique sky, wind, mist, snow, and cold. Even ordinary places can provide an emotional charge when you go wandering with your camera without knowing if and what could happen.
Before you start a shoot, how will you prepare yourself?
I don’t (just check having charged batteries and a card in the camera :)) As I face conditions where the light and weather change fast, I just try to keep my movements free for intuition. Thus I shoot always full manual to be able adjusting aperture and speed I also avoid tripod in order to stay free for spontaneous angles and framing.
Your favorite place for landscape photography?
When the conditions are “atmospheric” I like wandering on the crests, near lakes or peat bog in the mountains near my home or in the surrounding woods. I have a predilection for portraying trees and I have several ones in the neighbouring I visit regularly. I also practice mountain bike so I can get rapidly to remote wild places and use try to get the best from my smartphone camera.
Could you please share a picture and story behind that?
Yes, I think this is typically an example of what I said earlier about symbiosis with the elements. At the end of summer last year there was a thunderstorm when I left the office. So I decided to go directly in the mounts because I knew the atmosphere could get rapidly very special when the storm dissipates. And it was! At sunset, the beams played with the mist and the light was just unreal. Just before the last sun rays, I thought the show was finished because nature had offered all the gifts of light she could offer. I was about to pack my lens. At that moment on the mist curtains skimming on the peaks, I saw my silhouette in a Brocken spectre. It was quite magical and I could feel as a strong connection with the elements when the sun offered me to be part of the scenery.
In your idea, what makes a good photograph?
When he reaches the viewer’s heart through his eyes.
What difference does photography create in your life?
I think it makes me ISO sensitive to light 🙂
What is the best compliment you received so far?
Maybe it’s just when friends or family tell me that they feel something through my photos. I was touched when other photographers I admire commented on my photos and encouraged me to participate exhibitions.
Who are you when no one is looking at you?
A guy who is able to lie down in the mud to take a picture.
Which photographers have inspired you?
Many! When I started photography, I have been inspired by famous photographers like Sebastian Salgado, Steve McCurry and even the landscape pioneer Ansel Adams.
In the way I practice today I am mainly inspired by landscape painters. Classics like J.M.W Turner of course, or C. Friedrich and I was impressed by local and alpine landscape painters exhibited at the Grenoble museum such as G. Doré, C. Bertier ou L. Guétal. I also appreciate the ancient Japanese prints that provide delicate abstractions of forests and trees.
At the moment I enjoy the British photography scene with artists like Mark Littlejohn, Leigh Dorey, Brian Kerr, Dylan Nardini or Lee Acaster who capture incredible ethereal atmospheres of Scotland, Ireland or Lake District. I like also Chris Friel for his abstract landscape works and Julian Calverley for his Wonderfull work with a simple smartphone.
What camera do you use the majority of the time?
Mainly Canon EOS 6D with 25-105mm IS f4 or 40mm f2.8
Any favorite photography books?
Recently I was offered “Les Alpes de Doisneau” (Glénat – Musée de l’Ancien Evêché, Grenoble 2013). Not focused on landscape photography, but as Robert Doisneau spent time close to my place, I sometimes go in the footsteps of the landscapes he captured nearby.
Very eclectic, with a predilection for jazz. I think music and lyrics I have in mind inspire the way I capture landscape ambiances. At the moment I have in mind melodies of Olafur Arnads or Nills Frahm.
What’s your personal motto?
Follow your instinct
Who is your real life heroes?
My wife and son. They do a lot of people in need, I’m not able to make so much.
What is Love?
I think it’s beyond words… As we talk about photography, sometimes we could say that you feel so connected with another soul that you see things through her eyes.
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
Thankfully most of my interests are very complementary to photography such as hiking, biking or skiing so I can get outdoor experiences that provide good opportunities to bring back nice images. I even own and breed trees which teaches me to look them with an “aesthetic” approach.
You can find Fabrice Forest on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Fabrice Forest. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.