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Baudouin: Serial Photographer

An up and coming French photographer talks his way into subjects' homes for striking eccentric portraits

by Isabelle Doal in Culture on 25 February 2011

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A once aspiring Jazz bassist, Baudouin has found his calling as a photographer. His portraits are all of strangely familiar French characters and he has gained notoriety by creating ironic collections like "Friends," "Unknown But Nice" and the "The Parisian Ladies." I recently spoke with Baudouin to get some insight on his process—he confessed to having a systematic, almost ritualistic method, following a strict set of rules every time he shoots. In his work the process isn't just as important as the result, it is an inherent part of it.

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Baudouin explained that the whole process begins by picking a girl on the street, usually from a terrace cafe. The next part is the trickiest, convincing the subject to let him into her apartment. Each photo takes anywhere from one to four hours, the ritual begins immediately upon entering the location. The camera is always the same distance from the subject, always the same angle and focus. Baudoiun shoots on medium format film which forces him to put more thought in each photo. Baudouin's lighting is equally deliberate, avoiding shadows and dramatic intensity, he works to make the subject blend in to the background. The natural looking setting is contrasted by the disturbing or eccentric poses he coaxes his subjects into.

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Baudouin is more concerned with composition, with the graphic aspect of his set ups as opposed to catching a moment or telling a story. In this regard he is a portraitist but also an interior photographer, using the subjects as a platform to construct what he calls "nice pictures." Baudouin refers to his photos as, "a momentary interpretation" and advises not to take any of it too seriously, "after all, it's just a picture," he says. And Baudouin's photos don't aim to be anything more than just that, which in itself can sometimes tell a story.

Baudouin is currently working on finishing his series "Parisian Ladies," once complete he will be publishing the collection as a book.

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