This post presents the work of New-York based photographer Albert Delamour, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work for us. I was drawn to the originality of the ideas presented in the photographs and the superb printing technique. I hope you enjoy Albert’s approach and answers as much as me. Onwards.
Pascal Jappy: Albert, at DS, we like to divide art into two components, intent and craftsmanship. Often, photographers fall more in one category than the other, but you seem to straddle both with ease, so I’ll try to address both aspects in turn.
First of all, would you say there is an overarching theme underlying all of your work, or is every project based on a different idea?
Albert Delamour: “Through the Looking Glass” is the red thread between all my series. Because of Lewis Carroll’s novel, The Looking Glass has since become a metaphor for bizarre happenings. This metaphor of the mirror is a way to navigate my creative process and state of mind. When creating new work, I am never sure of the exact outcome.
My quest as an artist consists of mirroring or looking through the mirror of the world, my surroundings, myself and my interrogations.
Pascal Jappy: You have a very strong visual signature. Each of your series is quite distinct from the rest and very distinctive. How much of this is due to vision-driven planning and how much is spontaneous, on the moment?
Albert Delamour: I try to be on a continuously evolving path, accumulating experiences but always starting over. The starting point can come from a reading, a chat with a friend, an exhibit or anything that touches me.
For example the Looking for Richard series came from reading about a lawsuit against Richard Prince, well known for his art appropriation. I was a little annoyed that he could use other artists’ artworks to make his own. At the same time, I remembered a series of photographs I shot in White Sand Desert New Mexico. For fun at first, I decided to take a cow-boy from one of Richard Prince’s paintings and photoshop it onto my White Sand desert picture. Looking at my picture, I saw the loneliness of the artist, the mythological archetype of the wandering knight. It was the beginning of the new series Looking for Richard.
Pascal Jappy: Do you work on multiple projects at the same time or are each of your series sequences in time that do not overlap ?
Albert Delamour: I usually work on one project at the time. But at the same time some series like Designed by Nature are open in the sense that I add new pictures regularly in this series.
Pascal Jappy: What inspires you to start a project? Is it a long standing idea that finally comes to fruition? Do you have a backlog of ideas? Or is your work more opportunistic?
Albert Delamour: I always feel like a complete amateur. I never know how it will turnout. I feed the machine by reading, listening to podcasts, and seeing exhibits. I am constantly observing everything.
When I take a picture, the photograph may stay in a drawer for years. I know it is a good one, but I don’t always see what story it will tell.
The work and life of greatest artists are what inspire me the most. Anyone of them, painters, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, have explored more paths than I will ever be able to, which is inspiring to me.
Pascal Jappy: How do you prepare for a project? Does an idea emerge, then lead to a plan in your head, then to a predefined process? Or do you come back to a location with an idea in mind, as often as it takes to get the shots you want? How much of this is staged and how much is documenting something actually happening?
Albert Delamour: When the idea is there, I am constantly working on it, reading, documenting and drawing. The casting is particularly important in my creative process. The models who embody my vision/ ideas are always friends or acquaintances. Usually I like to work alone or with a very small team.
Planning is very important for my work because it gives me the freedom of being spontaneous while shooting and allows me to catch some bizarre happenings that can give the work a twist in a good way.
This is for the work I create in my studio. Going outside is far more challenging for me and my creative process. One day, I went to shoot long cast shadows on the beach in Montauk for my UP-FROM series. Everything was working out fine until the weather changed from sunny to overcast, forcing me to find an alternative to the original idea. I didn’t want to disappoint my friends who had traveled there for me that day. This is how I ended up creating “Pilgrims I”.
Pascal Jappy: Can you tell us what motivated your ICONS series? Can you describe the thought process behind those incredible prints?
Albert Delamour: The ICONS Series began with a visit to a museum exhibiting Caravaggio and European Caravaggism. It was not only the magnificence of the work of the great Master that was appealing to me, but also the underlying theme in his work. I started to compare and see similar concerns between the society in the time of Caravaggio and ours today.
The mask which I asked the participants to wear is there to emphasize the idea of universality in this world and to highlight what makes each of us unique: our eyes, mirrors of the soul. For example, Narcissus, which shows a young boy falling in love with his own reflection can be compared to the current selfie trend.
In the original painting that inspired my work Prism, the snake threatening the young boy and his family represented all the sins that existed at the time. In my work, the sinful snake is jumping out of a tablet/laptop, symbolizing the deviance of the Internet usage, specially for the young ones.
Pascal Jappy: Are you sometimes surprised by what happens when you get working on those series? Does the result sometimes escape you or go beyond what you had anticipated?
Albert Delamour: When I am creating, I don’t know what I am really going to get until I finish the piece..
Pascal Jappy: On to craftsmanship. Your printing techniques are some of the most elaborate I have seen. Can you describe some of them to us?
Albert Delamour: I discovered Orotone (or Gold tone) from the work of Edward S. Curtis, on a trip to Santa Fe, NM.
I was fascinated by the effect even if it was possible only on small format. Then I did some research on this technique and came out with my own process that evolved from years of experimenting with precious materials, and my passion to invent new ways to showcase photography and tell stories.
My printing process consists of layering several coats of silver and gold foils on my photograph, and add a final coat of lacquer. It’s a handmade process. This combination paired with some l secret ingredients/steps creates a liquid-glass luminescence, making each piece come alive in its own dimensional way.
Pascal Jappy: Do you have the final print and printing technique in mind when you start shooting a project, or are those two very separate phases for you?
Albert Delamour: The printing is the final phase. As important as the shooting, I am able to decide on it only after the shooting.
Pascal Jappy: What led you to become such a sophisticated printer? How did this evolve?
Albert Delamour: I began printing B&W when I was 16. I did a lot of it when I was in the French Air Force as a photographer.
I moved to Paris to continue my career and started with fashion and advertising photography. It was the time of analog photography and I was shooting in Kodachrome. At that time I worked with a professional printer, always the same one who knew me and my work.
After moving to New York, I started working with Duggal. When the digital age and printers arrived, I decided to get a printer and to experiment on my own.
I was looking for a unique and personal art language or way to showcase my works and make it standout by being more lively, closer to life.
My process is handmade so each work in the edition is slightly different.
Pascal Jappy: Where can we see your work first hand?
Albert Delamour: You can see my work :
And you are more than welcome to stop by my new studio, open by apointment, in East Patchogueon, Long Island, NY.
Pascal Jappy: What are your projects for the future?
Albert Delamour: I just moved my studio to Long Island. Here I am constantly surrounded by nature and the sea. It is a totally new environment for me after 15 years in Paris and 20 in New York City. I’m impatient to see what this new surrounding will help me create!
Pascal Jappy: Do you have a nugget of wisdom for amateur photographers with good technique to help them evolve to more meaningful photography?
Albert Delamour: Feel like an amateur
Look at the Masters
Always explore a new path, be a seeker.
Talk about yourself
This concludes the interview and I would like to thank Albert for answering all my questions in such great detail and being open about his work and approach. I hope you enjoyed the exchange and look forward to your comments.
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