“When I think about my photo collections (and I rarely do), I say to myself, ‘The only ones that have a chance of entertaining me in the future are exactly the ones that don’t interest me as I’m taking them today.’ It won’t be the beautiful, appealing, more or less elaborate pictures that I fashion with so much effort and delight (and sometimes even love). Instead, my favourites will be random photos of inconsequential details taken haphazardly, capturing a momentary slice of life that’s fleeting and soon outmoded.”
This is no exercise in self-modesty. For all his kudos, in later life, as a society pap and gutsy fashion photographer, Jacques Henri Lartigue was, at heart, a master of the spontaneous – fond not of training his lens on the perfectly preened or dutifully staged beauty but out to catch a fleeting glimmer of the extraordinary in the everyday.
Case in point: he declined President Giscard d’Estaing’s request to take his ofofficial portrait (before letting himself be persuaded) because he “had no idea how to handle such a thing”. A truly brilliant insight into his creative process, back catalogue and the man behind the camera.
Jacques Henri Lartigue, by Muriel Teodori, published by Flammarion
From France Today magazine. For more France Today book reviews, click here