Interview with Marc De Tollenaere
Today we have with us Marc De Tollenaere, a famous Belgian photographer specialized in Travel Reportages. Hello Mark, and thank you for your presence. Let’s start.. In your life you must have travelled a lot, how is your coming home? Do you find it stimulating like many other country you visited?
Well…one of the things I always say to my students is that the most interesting projects are those you can find just outside your door. It’s of course interesting to discover places and cultures completely different than those you are aware, but my way of travelling takes me many times to the same places, it’s my way to go deeper and deeper. If you want to be believable as a photographer, you can’t just scratch the surface, you must know very well where you are and feel the place like it was your second home.
Is there any of the countries you have visited that can be pointed as particularly significant for your career?
There no place in the world that moved me more than Kolkata, in India. Have a look at my pictures and you will understand why. In Kolkata every corner is a picture and the danger here is to be too obvious. When I hold a photographic workshop in Kolkata I often notice that my students take hundreds of pictures everywhere in the first 2 or 3 days and then less and less in the following days, focusing on something in particular and the best pictures always come after the first 3 days.
When did you realize that your life as a professional photographer was taking off? How did you feel about it?
Eight years ago I was a decent non-professional photographer and I knocked at the door of one of the best agency in Italy, Grazia Neri. I was lucky and I had the opportunity to talk to Mrs Grazia Neri herself. She looked at my photos and saw something interesting. She suggested me to attend some high-level workshops and so I did. One year and half later I was again in front of her with a portfolio and my pictures were immediately sent to the World Press. This is when I understood I could have a chance with photography. The second important turning point was when I succeeded in publishing my first book “Venice on the edge of light”, two years later. That gave me the opportunity to work with an important publisher and made me more aware of my skills.
How different is to shoot for your personal project as opposed to your usual commercial and advertising shooting?
Every good photographer should have some personal projects to work on. It’s the only chanche you have to show your real work and vision, and you can work on it as long as you need. Often commercial and advertising shooting are related to one of my personal project, but you have, of course, to deal with the commissioner and time is very short. Instead, when I work on my personal projects, I can spend one month or more just for one picture.
What kind of impression do you hope to leave upon other’s who see your photographs?
First of all I hope my photos give emotions. If you move nothing inside the viewer you failed. I never had this idealistic vision that if I document something I would be able to save someone, so I don’t expect the audience to feel pity watching my pictures. My photos talk about me and I often say that if don’t have yourself in there with you story, emotions, toughts, longings, dreams, personality, you will never make a mark as a photographer. I would like that who sees my photograph said: ”Wow! I never thought I could see something like this!”
What do you think about Bassano Fotografia 2011?
I think it’s a great opportunity for both professional and non-professional photographers. I had a look to the program and there are a lot of interesting exhibitions, and the curator choosed photographers completely different from one to another, so everyone could find inspiration by looking at them. There are some very interesting workshops too and you can talk about photography with some of the best photographers in the world, so I really feel to thank the Manfrotto company to build up this event and to make me part of it.