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There are so many incredible images on 500px but we want to know more about the photographers, and stories, behind them. Our Portrait series interviews a talented photographer each week, allowing us to discover more about living life through a lens.
This week's interview is with photographer Benoit Courti.
When and how did you fall in love with photography?
At eighteen, I carefully gathered photos I liked from master photographers: Avedon, Ritts, Lindbergh, Demarchelier. They gave me a taste of photography and that curiosity made me want to see more, to feel that connection again.
Have you had any formal training?
I'm self-taught. I've never received training or taken courses, and I'm not passionate about technology. I learned mostly by watching.
How would you describe your photography style?
I wouldn't say I'm an expert on style, but I try to produce simple, minimal images that convey a message. I love intense, emotionally-charged and symbolic pictures.
Who or what inspires your work?
Everything is good for inspiration: cinema, exhibitions, music, and so on - life! I love looking at pictures, searching and discovering. There are many photographers who amaze me with their work. There's a lot I don't know!
All your work on 500px is in black and white, why do you prefer this to colour?
I like the directness and timelessness of black and white. We don't regard black and white the same way, we see only the essentials. No color to attract or please the eye, no distractions. Even though I feel more comfortable working in black and white, I do like colour as well.
Can you foresee any colour creeping into your shots in the future?
Of course. There are some colour photos in my portfolio.
You used to be a music composer, why did you decide to make the switch to professional photographer?
It was the end of a cycle. I always liked photography, but didn't have the time or opportunity to devote myself to it seriously. I started with portraits in 2010 and my family pushed me to continue. Thanks to the internet, I received my first order and decided to take the opportunity to have this new experience. I spent a lot of time alone in the studio when I was a musician - I love this new way of reaching out to other people. Photography allows me to meet so many different kinds of people. It's like a second life.
What camera/s do you shoot with?
I currently use a Canon 5D Mark II.
And your favourite lenses?
85mm 1.2 and 35mm 1.4, two great lenses.
How about other equipment: lighting, tripod, filters etc.?
In the studio, I just use a simple continuous light with a reflector.
How important is post-processing to you?
I don't do a lot of tweaking, mainly just the contours and contrast.
Do you shoot in black and white or is this done in post processing?
During sessions, I visualize the previews in black and white.
Why did you decide to go with a square crop for most of your photographs and do you envision the crop before shooting or decide on it afterwards?
I especially like the square format for image composition, the graphical perspective it brings. I picture the framing before the shoot.
How do you market your work?
Right now, directly on my website, but my photos will soon be for sale in various galleries.
What advice would you give to amateur photographers?
First, be demanding of yourself - never be content. Remain curious, and look to the work of great photographers to understand the importance of framing, light, and the choice of subject.
What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
The first time I got an order for a print of one of my images.
Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?
It's hard to choose one over another, but one of my favourites is "Plumes", because I love what it evokes.
If you could capture anybody or anything on camera what would it be?
I'd love to do a portrait of Marilyn.
What are your aspirations for the future, in photography or otherwise?
I'm starting to exhibit my work in galleries, and I'm also looking at video.
Thanks to Benoit for being interviewed and to you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below, feedback is awesome!