Par Laetitia Allal
Tattooboy polaroid I,Tim Georgeson
Who is Tim Georgeson ?.
I’m Australian. My background is in photojournalism,. I moved to Paris for a little bit. I was working with an agency in Paris called Cosmos with a woman called Annie Boulat. She was very famous in France for her work in photojournalism – she and her husband Pierre Boulat, who did all the early photos of Yves Saint Laurent, once drove a Porsche from Paris to Cairo.
When, how and why you did you become a photographer... ?
I grew up in a very visual, very visceral family. All of my family are working in film, or in architecture, or as artists. Growing up as a kid, I was always around design, film, and photography. My grandfather gave me his old camera, that inspired me.
Which photographers/artists/directors… have had the greatest influence on you ?
One of my first photography books was Paul Strand. I love the work of people like Boris Mikhailov, Daido Moriyama, a Japanese photographer, just because I like the wornness of their imagery and how directed it is. And I like people like Cindy Sherman, I really admire her work, how she works on her own, Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus has been a big influence, Tracy Moffat, Larry Clarke. And I very much like the work of people like Lars Von Trier, Bill Viola and Harmony Korine.
Fritz and the Peach
How do you find your inspiration? Can you explain your creative process?
I’m just an observer. I have a feeling for something, I set the parameters and the course but then I let the story, all the images, direct themselves to the camera. Because I don’t want to influence anything too much, I want it to be as natural, realist and raw as possible. I really let the subject lay back and direct me within my vision.
Direct, with my work and my personality. I’m very direct. When I know what I want, I really go for it. I've always traveled with my wife and my kids. We continue to travel and to be inspired by different lands, different cultures, different colors and people.
Tell us more about your Gypsies work. Were you aiming for something aesthetic, artistic, or sociological?
I met the gypsies when I was reporting in Kosovo during the war and I was traveling with a journalist friend of mine. We went back on another trip, we met the gypsies. And this series is around the gypsies, their world, living in exile from Kosovo and living in Montenegro. We met with them when we went back, and we spent one month with them. This photo series has had some good exposure, it won a World Press award. It was in an exhibition in Perpignan : “Visa pour l’Image”, in the South of France. It was good for them. I’m not really shooting so much humanitarian or photojournalism in that way anymore. I’m really working on more contemporary art, on advertising and on personal art series these days. I’m not going to those kind of countries as much and one reason is because I have a family so it is not as easy. But I am doing a photojournalistic series right now in Montreal on the homeless and today I was jumped by three cops, they cornered me in their cop cars and were pointing guns at me, telling me I was under arrest because they thought I was the graffiti artist who sprayed Fuck the Cops on the nearby wall. It is dangerous work! But anyway, with the Gypsies, I decided I want to re-show that work in a motion sequence.
Did you learn anything from them when you were there?
I learnt about resilience. They‘re very resilient people.
So you would reshoot the untouchables?Watch video on Destricted TV:TIM GEORGESON-The Untouchables Film (click here).
I made a movie out of it, because I wanted to re-show that work but in a new light, so I wanted to play around with the idea of making, the story putting the stills in a motion sequence. That's been received very well. And now I’m planning to make some of my other photojournalistic stories, from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan, where I spent a lot of time, in a similar motion sequence. The way film is phasing out and smartphone art is taking over news, they might be vintage soon.
Do we have to wait to watch your work?
Yes (sourire), stay tuned !
What does light up your imagination and creativity?
It’s just about the spontaneity of me walking into a new subject or a new feeling and it lights me up or it doesn't.
What do you want to say with your work?
I’m trying to strip back some layers and reveal something about that particular subject so it can be experienced in an emotional way.
How do you approach your different work?
If I’m doing a fashion shoot or something, I’m not looking at those people with staring eyes. I’m looking at them the same way I would look at the Gypsies. And that’s the same when I’m shooting an advertising campaign. Whenever I’m looking through the camera, I’m looking for truth. Even in an advertising campaign, whether it has to be set up or with models, or whatever. But I’m still looking and feeling the people and the subjects and the concept, in a very similar way as photojournalism.
Are you always with your camera or can you live without it?
I live without sometimes, but I always have a camera in my bag.
Rose boy, Tim Georgeson
Your editorial with Rick Genest for the NY times is so strong;. Tell us more about the way you met…
We were introduced to him through some colleagues based in Montreal, and we’d seen him walking around because he’s quite striking to look at. He’s covered from head to toe in tattoos, and his tattoos are all about decomposition. It's almost like the inside of his body is tattooed on the outside of his body. And then the NY Times contacted me to ask if I would shoot some portraits of him for the magazine, so I followed him, my wife and I became friends with him and with his manager so we photographed these series, and now we’re working on a documentary with him, and also recently finished an art project with Restless, a longboard skateboard company, where we made limited edition skateboards with his image on the bottom. We launched it at Fashion Night Out in NYC at Nicola Formichetti’s pop-up shop.
How would you explain his success? Just because of his tattoos? Because he is a/this kind of artist considering his body as a place for pictural happenings?
He‘s a punk, he’s a straight punk no matter how famous he's becoming. He's still very, very loyal to his friends. He’s quite an inspiring young guy. He has a serenity about him, he’s a very lovely guy, he’s generous and he has a good heart. He has a vision with his tattoos, it’s the way he wants to present himself to the world. I guess that’s brave and it strikes a chord because people are really into extreme self-expression right now. He was discovered on facebook.
In your latest film you worked with Half moon run, a new indie group. Can you tell me more about the way you met and the concept of this video?
I met them through a record company in Montreal called Indica Records, they just signed them last year and asked me if I would shoot their new album cover plus make a film. They are 3 young guys, I think they 're gonna be very successful, they have a good sound and a strong vision. I decided I wanted to shoot something a little bit ethereal but fun with them so we went outside of Montreal, to an apple orchard, and we created a whole set with fireworks, and basically them having a party in the apple orchard with the fireworks and a bit of booze. They wanted something very different, and playful. It came out kind of pagan, which suits their aesthetic. The video teaser for the new album is the one you've seen. That's all being launched at the end of this month.
I interviewed them?HALF MOON RUN - DARK EYES-INTERVIEW
They've never done something like that before, so their energy was really fresh and enthusiastic and they were very open to self-expression.
Is Black and white important in your color work?
Black and white is my kind of roots in photography. Black & white is where I get a lot of depth. Emotionally I find it more confronting and more powerful, and particularly in my photojournalism work -you can see with the Gypsies- it really reveals their insecurities and the rawness of life. I don’t want to put any color on such a scene when there isn't a lot of color, or no other colors. I want to show the absolute truth.
In 2010 you founded Rightfoot+Creative, which fosters relations between big business and non-government organizations. Tell us more about this agency
Rightfoot+Creative, we started that last year. We have a few new clients and we’re working with some NGOs here in Canada. If we were to do something for a big brand like Adidas or something, which obviously has a bigger budget than an NGO humanitarian organization, then basically they allow us to work for a lower rate for an NGO and create justice and beautiful advertising campaigns, as beautiful for them as for Adidas, we're bound to that, we're branding it as moral-offsetting. And it's only a small agency, just my wife and I. We are hiring specialists based on the project, so we work with local musicians for original scores. We work with editors, graphic designers, stylists, models, performers, depending on the project . We 're building up a nice little team of independent freelance artists to work with us on these projects. We're both creative directors, so we‘re pitching to clients and seeing the whole process all the way through to the finish line.
Your future, now: Next step, next obsession?
Right now, I have just been in Amsterdam, Berlin, Switzerland, and Paris shooting a cool denim series for Code magazine in Amsterdam. So I've just finished that. I’m working with a skateboard company here in Montreal. There’s the series on the homeless, a zine project, another music video, some ads. As you can see, we have a lot of variations in our work. The way that I shoot, nothing feels foreign. It doesn’t feel foreign to be making a film, to be shooting photojournalism, an advertising campaign, a fashion shoot. For me it all works together.
Half Moon Run a film by Tim Georgeson