Elizabeth Char Paris, France
LOST MOMENTS FLY AWAY
Remember the beautiful moments, in a world saturated with images, try to capture emotion. These moments remain fragile because of the impermanence of things.
I was born in Paris in 1956, and I live there now. For all these years, I have had many lives, many places of lives, that would be take too long to explore it all here. Today is definitely the most important moment. Street photography is inside me and enriched me (not financially, for that I have a job on TV!).
Elizabeth Char was chosen by photographer Tadashi Onishi
Laatikkomo’s interview with Elizabeth Char October 10th, 2017
EC: I was born and I live in Paris. In the 1980s, I lived in Spain, in the Canary Islands. I have traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, tried to live in Cambodia to finally discover Japan and be fascinated by it.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
EC: In the early 80’s, pictures of my baby girl, taken with a Minox. Then after a trip to Argentina, the discovery of dark room’s magic and already a pronounced taste for high contrasts.
L: Most (if not all) of your photography is black and white, what interests you about black and white film or what is your relationship to black and white versus colour?
EC: I was born in the 50s, a great era for black films that inspired me. Even today, I like to see them again. I appreciate color’s photographs of Joel Meyerovitz, Saul Leiter and others. But in spite of everything, my eyes don’t capture the colors, my mind instantly translates my environment into black and white.
Do I flee the reality? Yes, kind of.
Thereby black and white offers me the illusion of a dreamed, idealized world.
L: Street photography in particular demands a particular sense of awareness in your immediate environment. Do you always have your camera with you or do you take days off? (How do you manage the intense energy level of always being alert for the right shot?)
EC: Indeed street photography requires a lot of energy. When I started I always had camera with me. It has changed today, my camera and mainly my mind must rest.
The state of alert this practice demands is exhausted if it becomes daily and the result is felt. I take my time, my shots are less frequent.
L: Taking a picture at the right moment is exceptionally important for street photography, and it seems as if this genre of photography is most closely related to analog photography in the urgency of timing. Have you ever used film cameras for street photography? What kind of editing/selection process goes into your work?
EC: My work is mainly digital. But yet I have already used cameras film but I confess lacking patience and time.
The important thing for editing is to let time pass between shooting and editing. Take a step back improve my choices. Years have taught me that editing is the most important part of my work. I have to let go the emotional part of the photographic moment and gain more subjectivity. For months, I review my editing, my choices are more precise. Urgency is not good advice for me!.
Then begins the post production, a meticulous work, a visual meditation.
L: Photographing people is not always self evident, how do you communicate with your subjects, or do you?
EC: I communicate very rarely with people. I am a 60-year-old woman, people don’t care about me. I can get very close to the subjects and I need to get close to being able to catch an emotion and I know that most of the time, they don’t notice me; perhaps because I feel invisible.
L: Photography, and documentary photography in particular, is often a tool for telling stories. Do you have an overall (perhaps indirect) story or message you want to tell with your images?
In this world surrounded by all kinds of fears relayed by the media, I am against the flow. I want to show that the street is beautiful, full of energy, that the crowd is a whole composed of people whose ordinary’s elegance merely needs to be shown and magnified. A gesture, a light, a hand on a face, a smile, the street is a living theater unceasingly renewed. I would like to show how that’s easy to open our eyes, to look around, to forget egocentric selfies and that everyone is able to open up to life.
LA VIE EST BELLE.
L: Could you list five or more single words related to the work you are showing in Laatikkomo?
EC: Elegance – Poetry – Romantic – Freedom – Daydream – Sparkle.
Thank you so much Elizabeth!!