Macro magic: an interview with Etienne Francey
07 June 2016 posted by: Zoe - WPY Comms Officer
A recent finalist in WPY51, Etienne started taking pictures of wildlife at the age of 10 and was taught about photography by his grandfather. His poetic images provoke an emotional response and he is passionate about photographing plants. He photographs the nature around his home in Switzerland and three of his images have been awarded in the WPY young awards. We asked Etienne some questions about his photographic style, and for his advice for aspiring nature photographers.
How did it feel to become a WPY51 finalist with your image Winter Magic?
I think all wildlife photographers would agree, it was the best reward I could have received for my image and an award that gives me confidence in the result of my photographic work. It was a moment of great joy, and to go to the Natural History Museum in London for the awards ceremony will always be a treasured memory!
Winter Magic by Etienne Francey. Finalist 2015, 15-17 Years Old
What's the story behind the image?
Getting this image didn't involve hours of preparation or having to wait in a hide, but the challenge was to find a new and original way to photograph this familiar flower. I knew when I submitted my photos for WPY51, that if I had a winning picture, if would be this one!
What do you enjoy about photographing plants and insects?
What I like about macro photography is that one is very free to think about the image and give it a personal touch. You can take the time to move, to think and to invent. It's a great area to express creativity and represent nature in a new way.
What are they key things to remember in macro photography?
I think it's very important to avoid setting limits. Photographers must constantly take a fresh look at the situation, as this allows them to explore further opportunities. Question the light on the frame, the camera angle, and try to make the best of the situation. The world of plants and insects offers an incredible range of colours. I value a strong colour palette, seeking flowers and insects with particular hues. I also take inspiration from images I see in my daily life such as photos or paintings. Keep a fresh perspective, don't look at a flower like a flower, but carefully feel the forms, the curves...then compose a picture.
Harvest Gold by Etienne Francey. Commended 2013, 15-17 Years
How would you describe your style?
I prioritise the aesthetics and composition of the image, which doesn't mean I have no interest in the subjects, quite the contrary! Impressionist painters like Monet inspire me, and I have a great respect for their mastery of art. I try to make images that reflect what I feel myself when I interact with nature; wonder, a little magic, enchantment and softness. I think I still have a child's gaze.
Are you inspired by other WPY photographers?
Sandra Bartocha has a boundless imagination and it is always a pleasure to discover her new images.
Light Show by Sandra Bartocha, Germany. Specially commended 2012, Creative Visions
Do you usually have a pre-planned concept for a shoot, or do you work more spontaneously?
Sometimes, as I am still studying, I think about a photo idea during class. But often the result is still very different from what I had originally planned! It always surprises me, good or bad. I mostly look for ideas on site.
What advice would you offer to young people starting out in wildlife photography?
In wildlife photography you have to be patient and persevere. This can be hard, especially at first, but never forget why you've chosen to do it. The pleasure that comes from a moment in nature is priceless, even if that moment doesn't produce a strong image. Your work must not be a hunt (I do not like that word) but a moment of relaxation. Never forget that nature is a place that must be respected, you have to approach it with some humility. The most surprising techniques sometimes offer unexpected results. The important thing is to have fun, whilst respecting the flora and flora, of course.
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