Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interview with a Photographer: Marc Olivier

marc1    I am so excited to introduce you tomarc5

Marc Olivier. marc4He is probably not someone you have visited often as he is not in the ‘Mommy-turned-photographer-circle’ that so many of us travel in…marc5

I can’t remember how I first found his blog, but I remember clicking there the first time and LOVING all that he shared. Get a cup of coffee, and get ready to save some websites today because Marc shared tons of valuable information in this interview. marc2

How old are you?

(You are the first male interview. I have never asked any of my female interviewees this as I think that would cause a heart attack!)youcapture4-1 marc 1

My last birthday I thought I was turning 45, but then I did the math and realized that I was actually a year younger. It was better than finding spare change in the sofa.marc 6

Do you consider your profession to be that of a teacher or a photographer? Or both?

I would say that I'm someone who supports his teaching habit through photography.    marc 4 

How long have you been teaching?

I've been teaching since my sophomore year in college. I was living with my Dad in France for a while and attending a French university when I decided to write a letter in very formal French to BYU telling them I wanted a job as a student instructor. marc 1I had already signed a contract before they realized I was only a sophomore. That lucky break helped me work my way through school teaching French. So I lived the double life of pretending to be serious about my French major while spending all my time in the Music Dance Theater program. marc 2As graduation (and my wedding date!) approached, I decided that becoming a professor would give me job stability (it did), a chance to learn as a career (best job perk ever!), and loads of free time to do theater on the side (2 out of 3 ain't bad). marc 1

Where do you teach? Do you love it?

After seven amazing years in Seattle and a year teaching in Versailles, I ended up back at BYU. Utah was the last place my wife and I imagined ourselves, but once the locals replaced us with smiling robotic replicas of our former selves we grew to love it —Or is that the plot of "The Stepford Wives"?  Seriously, I really do think it's a great place to teach and to raise kids.marc 1

How long have you been a photographer? marc3

I started doing portrait and wedding photography professionally in 2002, after someone broke into our apartment in Paris and stole all of my equipment. When I replaced my stolen equipment I went digital, which gave me the courage to do weddings. Without the immediate feedback of digital, weddings would be way too stressful.

Where do you photograph? marc 1

I try to photograph wherever I am, but I have to admit that I always prefer Paris. My favorite photography is street photography, and there is always something happening in Paris. I like the chaos of city life. I like crowds, public demonstrations, the quirky scenes of daily life, architecture, etc. marc 5I have never been interested in landscapes that are untouched by humans. For a long time, I did nothing but portraits in Utah, because I thought of it as a landscape state. But fairly recently, I began to embrace Utah's cities on their own terms instead of wanting them to be Paris. I think I can enjoy photographing anywhere now.

Do you shoot something every day?marc1

I wish I could say "yes." It is a goal of mine, but sometimes I don't feel like lugging my camera around. I would like to believe that if I had a Leica M9, I would wear it like a necklace and never take it off.

What kind of camera and lenses do you have? marc8

I use a Canon 5d Mark II. My most-used lens is the 24-70mm f/2.8L lens followed by the 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. marc 3

What did you start with?

My first SLR camera was an old Pentax K1000 my Dad gave me. Everything was manual, so it was a good way to learn. marc 14             

How quickly did you move up in camera bodies?

Now, I tend to get a new camera body about every other upgrade. When I upgrade, my wife and oldest son get the hand-me-down cameras—never a sad day for them.marc 5

Tell me about your journey to becoming a professional photographer:
I've been taking photos since I got my first camera at age 7. I have always loved photography, but I never once considered it as a potential source of revenue until about 10 years ago. Really. Not once. I was too busy singing/dancing/acting and teaching French to even realize that I could get a degree in photography. There are tons of holes in my knowledge because I am a complete autodidact with photography. But I'm in good company because most of my favorite photographers were self-taught.marc 6

How many people do you think you have photographed at this point in your life? marc 7

I guess I've photographed hundreds, but keep in mind that I can't even keep track of how old I am.

Who is your favorite model?marc 4
It's hard to choose one, but as I think about it I realize that my most memorable portraits tend to fall into the extreme ends of a spectrum: they are either of the people closest to me or of complete strangers I photograph in the streets. Some of my favorite "portraits" of family are just snapshots, such as one of my wife comforting Max when he was barely a toddler or another of my daughter Eva walking along the shops at Palais Royal in Paris and suddenly turning back to look at me, her natural pose nearly identical to a professional model shoot I stumbled upon just two days earlier. marc 8But while the model had to walk the same 5 steps over an over, Eva's pose was spontaneous. (Incidentally, my favorite shot of the model is one I took of her legs while she was taking a cigarette break. The first thing she did was kick off those uncomfortable shoes she was modeling.) marc 10

Can you tell me your most memorable portrait? marc2
One of my favorite portraits is from a series I shot in 10 seconds during the Paris techno parade last year. In an attitude of gleeful menace, a group of teenagers advanced toward me as I took photos and slowing walked backwards. They flipped me off, threw a few punches and kicked, but it was (in my opinion) just barely on the safe side of the fine line between posturing and outright danger. I kept my own reaction playful and cut things off just as a foot nearly grazed my lens. I loved the adrenaline rush and the energy of the experience. I don't know the people in the photo, but for me it is a portrait of playful violence that is such a strong component in the life of a teenage boy.marc 12

What both ends of my "memorable portrait" spectrum have in common is an authenticity and spontaneity that I have to work a lot harder to achieve in a more formal portrait session. In all of those cases, a memorable photo captures a fleeting moment in a relationship. Daddy's little girl wins out in the favorite model category (and we are overdue for a formal shoot), but I am such a people person that I also love trying to understand complete strangers through photography.marc 9

When you started your blog did you intend for it to be a teaching blog? Does teaching just naturally come about in everything you do?      marc7

I absolutely planned on doing a teaching blog. I wanted to have a place to share ideas for free without trying to commercialize anything. I figured that giving things away generates good karma, right? My aim is to inspire and help photographers of any skill level and to push myself to try new things in the process. There are plenty of people out there who know more than I do, but most of them aren't giving away their secrets. marc 13

How old are your children? Do any of them love taking pictures? marc8

My kids are 15 (Max), 11 (Lucas), and 5 (Eva). Max used to do every "monthly special" on my blog. He has a natural eye for unique perspectives. So does Lucas. When we were in Paris last fall, Lucas did a series of photos at the military museum Les Invalides called "the last thing you'd see." He took photos from the point of view of a person about to get trampled by an armored horse or about to get a spear in the face. Morbid, but very funny. marc1

My wife is our real family photographer. She documents daily life and most events. Our family photo wall has just as many of her photos as mine. I think both my wife and I are happier hiding behind the lens.marc3
If someone has a nice camera, and a understanding of photoshop, do you think they should automatically start doing this for income? marc4

If a person is driven by need or desire to earn money from photography then I don't even think that good equipment or photoshop are necessary. I've seen very cool Etsy shops with polaroid snapshots. If you work creatively within the limitations of your tools you can carve out a place for yourself in the market. I wouldn't recommend doing weddings with a point-and-shoot, but I think a good eye is more important than expensive supplies. marc 3

What should they think about before they start a business?marc9        

My biggest advice for someone thinking about doing photography as a business is "don't quit your day job." I am lucky to have the luxury of a stable job as a professor. Besides the fact that I love teaching, my "day job" gives me health insurance, retirement benefits, and the freedom to only take on photo projects that I want to do. If photography were my only source of income, I would have to take a different approach and I fear that I would enjoy it less.marc6

Do you do your taxes for your photography business?

The first thing I did was register with the state and get a business license. Because I'm a sole proprietor business and I limit my jobs, I deal with every aspect of the business personally including—alas!—the monthly taxes. The year-end stuff, I leave to the pros.marc7

To Yale or not to Yale, that is the question.

I was finishing my B.A., doing quite well, and the department chair interviewed me and told me he thought I should go to Yale:
"I'm not sure that's what I want, and I doubt it will work well for my fiancée if she wants to keep taking classes."
"Well, she'll just have to understand."
"Well, that may be how your marriage works, but it's not going to be how mine does."marc4
After that exchange, the chair only referred to me as "Michelle's fiancé" and wrote me off (until he ended up hiring me 8 years later). So if this illustrates anything it is that I tend to be impetuous and outspoken. My approach to grad school was not about finding the best school, but about where I wanted to spend the next four--uh--make that seven--years. "What schools do they have in Seattle?" I asked a friend. "Which one of those is the best?" So I went to UW. It was great. I loved it. I probably got more personal attention than I would have at Yale. marc2The professors were happy with me, and as I neared the end of my M.A., all the professors were telling me I should go do my PhD at some Ivy League school (one went so far as to contact some friends at Princeton to set up a scholarship). All the professors were basically saying UW wasn't good enough. All except one. He said, "A pedigree will help you for maybe 4 or 5 years. Ultimately, what matters is what you produce, where you can be happy and productive." marc5For me, that place was Seattle. So I stayed and chose that professor as my dissertation director.
Wow, that was a long story. The point is, I have never regretted those decisions. I think you should factor in your whole life (quality of living, family, etc.) when making decisions. But do I tell my students to follow my example? marc3Hell, no! I tell them what I did and why it worked for me, but then I tell them to go to an Ivy League school. I'm not trying to set myself up as a model to follow, but I don't mind giving conflicting advice so the student will consider all options.marc 11

How did you come up with the idea of the ABC's of Paris? Do you find that concept shooting helps you shoot more often? marc8

I don't think that the ABC concept is original, but the origins of my ABC Paris project  are very much a part of my personal experience. We were living in Paris for a year. Our son, Max, was a precocious 1-year-old. One day (he was probably 18 months by then), we were playing with his blocks and out of nowhere he started identifying all of the letters. He had somehow learned the alphabet on his own. I had just finished doing a series of photographs about ironwork and needed a new project. The ABCs just seemed to make sense. marc 1The intellectual side of my inspiration was Victor Hugo's idea (in Notre Dame de Paris) that "when you know how to see, you can see the face of the king in a door knocker." In other words, the city itself has its language. We are less literate today than the peasants of the Middle Ages when it comes to "reading" buildings. ABC Paris is like an alphabet book for adults—a primer on the art of reading a city.marc10
I love concept shooting because it gives me structure and order. I like the quote by photographer Stephen Shore that "Where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture." I think that having a concept is a helpful way to make selections.marc 2

What is one photography blog you gain inspiration from that you would like to share?marc7

I like the blogs of all the photographers I interview, but if I had to choose I would have to say that Elaine Vallet's blog s the most inspirational because her work is stunning and she thwarts expectations about the training and equipment a person supposedly needs to be a great photographer. marc9She doesn't have top of the line equipment, formal training, or mad Photoshop skills, but her work would make any of the famous French humanist photographers proud. Given that she is a teacher who lives in Paris and photographs because it is her passion, I feel like she is a kindred spirit. I was lucky to have her give a guest lecture in a photography class I taught in Paris last fall.marc6

Do you have any other resources or thoughts to share?

For retouching, I think the Retouch PRO (Retouch Pro forums are a great resource. marc5

For a good laugh, I like Photoshop Disastersmarc4

  For the legal side of photography, I like Photo Attorneymarc3

 PDN pulse is a good resource for keeping up on photo news. marc2

And then there's my love/hate relationship with Photojojo I think they are fun but sometimes a bit smug. I like to call photojojo my nemesis, but the fact is, they don't know I exist.marc1


For people wanting a beginning Photoshop book, Matt Kloskowski's Layersis the one I wish existed back when I was first learning.marc12           marc11

Check out Marc’s blog:

Take Out Photo.

Be prepared to be amazed!

80 comments:

Stephanie Faris said...

Wow. What beautiful photos!

Anonymous said...

This guy is...AWESOME!!! I love his personality, his genuine faith in living a life that celebrates those around him, and his beautiful heart. He must be a fabulous teacher...and an even better parent and husband. Just a terrific interview. LOVED.IT.

Stephanie said...

Amazing photos. I am in awe of all that talent!

Jennifer Froh said...

AWESOME WORK.. JUST AWESOME!!!

Foursons said...

Wow...every week I think each photographer is the best there is and then another photographer comes up next week and I am amazed all over again.

I stopped and stared at these shots. I stopped scrolling, scrolled back up, and stared. They are amazing and have so much depth and interest in them. I am truly, truly inspired and I think my own ABC project is now in the makings.

But first I have to go follow you so that I can get all these photography tips.

capribythelake.com said...

wow, amazing! I love this! These photos are incredible, such talent!

Lolli said...

I LOVE hearing all of his answers to your questions! I learned quite a bit. I am in awe of the incredible photos you included!!

ourlifeinaclick.blogspot.com said...

Wow Becky! I can't wait to check out all of the websites...I've got my work cut out for me! This was an awesome interview and amazing photos!

Farmgirl Paints said...

You asked some really good questions. His work is amazing. I loved the merry go round one. Nice to know he doesn't think you need expensive equipment to take great shots. I have yet to get a real grown up camera. Someday... So intimidating to learn all the techy stuff. Now I have ANOTHER blog to check out. Thanks Becky:)

Norah said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and am really looking forward to checking out the blog. I love the his style of photography! WOW!

Ky said...

Thank you so very much for sharing this interview with him. He's an amazing photographer!

Cecily R said...

Oh, how I LOVE his perspective, and his work is amazing! I've already checked out some of his tutorials and I love them. Thanks so much for sharing him with us!

That sounded weird...whatever. You know what I meant. :)

kasey said...

Truly Beautiful Photos!

richies said...

Marc's work really shows his eye for finding great shots in what we without such a good eye would think were ordinary scenes. His wanting to share knowledge is very refreshing in a world where professionals sharing info is almost unheard of.

An Arkies Musings

beautifulrandomness said...

Amazing and inspirational! As a new photographer I so WISH I could be taught by him!

*Jess* said...

I really enjoyed reading this!! Thanks so much!

Skeller said...

such gorgeous, natural texturing and "storytelling" in Marc's images. I feel like I've been to France and back.

As always, you know all the best questions to ask, Becky! And Marc, your answers and perspectives were a joy to read. Thanks for sharing from your wisdom...

Julie Rivera Photography said...

Fabulous interview of a really down to earth man who has had some cool adventures in this life. I really like that he also started with the K1000, and that it was a gift from his dad just like mine gave me. I still have mine... So much wonderful info!

Dot O said...

Great interview! Loved the questions and loved, loved the answers. His photos of everyday moments are wonderful and certainly are inspirational.

Thanks, Becky, for sharing Marc with us. I will go and check out his blog too!

lifebythecreek said...

Be prepared to BE amazed? Oh no. No, no, NO; I already AM amazed, Becky. Anyone who casually throws out "autodidact" in an interview amazes me from the get-go. And to have a grasp of what really, truly matters in life at such a young age and then to refine it and define it at 45 (oh..wait.. sorry; 44...) is so refreshing that I almost can't stand it. This one is going on my blogroll, and I'll be checking out all of those links (Photoshop Disasters... hahaha, I cannot WAIT!!!!). Thank you for the wonderful interview, Becky; this is one introduction that I believe I shall remember for a very long time!

photowannabe said...

This was an interesting and down to earth interview.
Mark really captures the essence of life in just one shot.
Thanks for sharing. I will be returning to his blog often.

Rachel said...

Beautiful, graceful pictures. Love the life captured in each one . . .and a GREAT interview. Love his humor plus information delivery style.

Fantastic!

Marvett Smith said...

Very inspiring! Great interview once again Becky!

marc said...

Wow! So nice to see such wonderful comments! I loved doing the interview. The questions really made me think.

Sarah said...

Becky, I'm so glad you started doing these interviews! I have learned about some amazing photographers that I didn't know even existed -- thank you! But now that means I have more blogs to follow :)
Loved reading about Marc (& I love the way he spells his name!) and love his pictures!

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

Wow, what a relief to find a photographer that doesn't even really try to make money with photography but does it because he has a passion for it! I really needed that encouragement.

Too many other interesting tidbits... what a great quote by Steven Shore ‎"Where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture."

By the way, I was laughing my head off about Photojojo being his nemesis! Never really thought about them being smug, but I guess he's right. They ARE fun though.

Pumpkin Delight said...

What a great interview! I am heading over to check out his beautiful work right now!
Thanks!

Susan said...

A great interview. going to browse his blog now for some more photo inspiration. Thanks!

Susan said...

I was a little confused with your comment, then realized that blogger has my school blog (one I haven't used in quite some time) as the top blog. You will probably recognize my main blog at fromthenarrows.com as I believe you have left comments from Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Thanks for the sweet comment though. I just finished Susan Keller's interview and I enjoyed that one too.

Sarah said...

Kinda want to go to Paris and shoot right. now. :) Beautiful story-telling in every image! And Marc, your writing is pretty dang good too.

another great one Becky!

Mental P Mama said...

Wow. What amazing photos.

Kent Weakley said...

This is a fabulous interview. Marc's work in genuine, clean, and natural. I love the variety of images you posted in the interview. Thank you for taking the time and effort to make this great interview and sharing him with us!

Becca said...

What a fantastic interview and wonderful photos! :-) Thank you Marc for taking the time to answer so many questions -- you rock!

Mark said...

Why don't I just kill myself right now? I was just enjoying some pictures that I took of my kids over the weekend and then I stop here and my self-love vanished. God really knows how to stick it to me good. That's what I get for thinking I can take "okay" pictures.
Perhaps if I changed my name to Marc instead of this old boring "Mark", my pictures would come out better? Damn you letter "K"!!! What was my Mom thinking anyway? You know what, it was the 60s, she probably wasn't thinking if you get my drift. The Nuns most likely named me at the hospital.
Where was I? Oh right, about this Photographer. Seriously, his pictures are fantastic and ditto on everything these people above me said. I don't know what else to say to compliment him more because I don't think there are words that exist yet which could describe the beauty of his work.
But I'll tell you what, if he's handing out free advice, I'm all ears. Or is it is eyes in this case? Anyway, sign me up!
Your Friend, m(Sans C).

And Miles To Go... said...

This is wonderful. He does great work. I'm enamored by the carousel photo.

Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

I love this interview/post/photos! I specially love the shoe forms photograph and the first b&w one.

Karen O'Donnell said...

Love the interview Becky...and love the photographer. Great work but even greater philosophy! Thanks!

tulpen said...

Gorgeous work. Wish I had a speck of his talent behind the lens.

Fresh Mommy said...

What a great interview! Thanks for introducing us all to something so cool, I've never heard of him before this. And Paris?! I'd LOVE to shoot in Paris! :)

~Tabitha

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Flabergasted and in awe!
<><

Brooke G. said...

WOW -thanks for sharing!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Great interview Becky!
He sound like a unique guy; very interesting...must go visit his blog!

Kim said...

WOW! This is a fantastic interview and for him to share so many photos is amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it all.

Sheri said...

I'll have to come back when I can really spend some time on this interview!


Sheri

Colleen said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was a great interview and I have so many wonderful sites to peruse now. Can't wait!

Amy @ Cheeky Cocoa Beans said...

Wonderful interview! I am intrigued. And inspired. :)

Jen said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing this interview!

Ashley Sisk said...

Your brought it on again with another great interview. I love how many links he's offered up. These are great resources that I'm looking forward to diving into later today!

Jenna said...

beautiful!! :)

Nezzy said...

Wow, this Ozark chick is already blown plumb of the hay wagon. The pictures are amazing and the interview was great !

I just wanted to thank ya'll for visitin' with your sweet comment. Please drop by often, the door of the Ponderosa is always open.

God bless ya from the happy hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa!!!

michelle said...

Wonderful interview! Of course, I am somewhat biased...

AJ said...

What a great interview and photos!

Christy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this interview with us! So much inspiration!

Maddy said...

He is just fantastic!! His photos....WOWZA!! I love his street photography the most, probably because I'm too much of a coward to attempt it myself. I would love to, but experiences like what he described of the teenagers almost wrecking his camera freak me out! But great interview and I love the "guys" perspective! I'm heading over to check his blog right now!

emily wierenga said...

wow,
i love your blog. i'm so glad you stopped by my place so i could find yours, friend. i hope you'll join up with imperfect prose on thursdays sometime. BEAUTIFUL post.
e.

Caroline (Frogmum) said...

Great Interview ~ great pictures, off to read more! :)

Raymonde said...

Ohlala superbe entretien. J'adore.

I love it, I learned so much already, it made me a little homesick with the all the Paris photos though. I was a studen there years ago.

Well done Becky and Marc.

Edwina at The Picket Fence said...

Wow, what beautiful photography, so unique. Thanks for sharing.

the Lola Letters said...

This was such a great interview! Marc had such a unique style. I went over to his blog and spent an additional hour over there!

Yay for a fellow Utahn! ...not that he's necessarily FROM here, but he sure has spent a lot of time here!

Buckeroomama said...

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I really think you do AMAZING interviews. You are able to elicit such interesting answers because you ask such interesting questions. Reading this felt like I could see the two of you together with you asking him a question, with him answering, and with you following up with the next question. It didn't feel like you fed him with a series of questions for him to answer and email back to you! Well done (again)! ...and you pick such nice interesting photographers for your interview, so that makes it doubly interesting to read. :)

Lori said...

As always people like him amaze me. Great work!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Whoa! That was amazing. Thanks for a very interesting and gorgeous interview.

The ABCs of Paris is fantastic. so is that pic of the carousel. Off to check out Marc's blog.

THANKS!
jj

Tracy P. said...

Wowzers!! I got totally distracted by that puff pastry, and then had collected myself by the time I got to the part where he said it's all about working creatively within the limitations of your equipment. My kind of guy! Loved his city shots--I was downtown photographing the farmers market today. Felt a little like Paris with all the lovely flowers...

You are an awesome interviewer, Becky. You get these photographers all figured out, and you push just the right buttons (in a good way!) to get them going! Love it.

Marryam said...

What an awesome person. Love this interview! And LOVE his photos - amazing!

Dana-from chaos to Grace said...

AMAZING!!! Simply amazing! I love his creativity!

Elizabeth said...

AMAZING. He's got such a beautiful eye!! He makes me want to just go for a drive and start taking pictures of life.

Angie - The Arthur Clan said...

What a fabulously wonderful interview Becky...I loved this! Thank you for introducing me to something so inspiring.

Someday I will visit Paris...someday. :)

Wanda said...

Wow Becky - this interview was just awesome. A feast for the eyes and a plethora of ideas, inspiration and links. Thank you so much for giving yourself so completely to this project. You're one-of-a-kind girl!!!

xoxo

Casey Freeland said...

Really enjoyed these photos. The use of shadow and depth (focus and horizon I suppose) is wonderful is so many of them.

Terrific work and a great story behind it.

Thanks for sharing,

Casey

Casey Freeland said...

I meant in so many of them, of course.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Wow, wow, WOW! I am so inspired. Loved this interview, Becky. I am looking forward to checking out all the blogs he referenced.

Teri said...

Great interview!! I'm really looking forward to checking out his blog and some of the other links he recommended! Thanks!

Teri said...

Great interview!! I'm really looking forward to checking out his blog and some of the other links he recommended! Thanks!

The Redhead Riter said...

Great interview and obviously, a fantastic photographer.

Trudy said...

I'm already amazed...I am definitely going to be checking out his blog and several of the sites he gave as well. Not to mention the book on beginning Photoshop!

Incredible shots...my favorite is of the little girl (daughter?) looking at the dolls in the window, priceless!

Thanks for another great interview Becky!

Dita said...

That was some interview!! Wowza!

I hung on every word and the images were delectible!

Thank you for another fantastic, incredible and sublime interview!

Hugs,
Dita

Maria Berg said...

Thank you for doing the interview, MB

jennykate77 said...

Wow, he is amazing. His photos are so interesting. There's so much depth to his subject. I really am in love with all of his Paris shots. I want to go there so badly and he seems to have captured the essence of Paris. *le sigh* I'll be back to looks some more later.

♥loves

Anonymous said...

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
Keep working ,great job!

Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon

Thanks for writing this blog, loved reading it