How often do you stumble upon photos that make you pause? Photos that require a few minutes to take them in, explore each detail and decide how it makes you feel, or what’s the story behind it? It definitely takes a skillful eye and a creative mindset to be able to produce something that catches and holds a viewers attention, especially today. We live in a beautiful time, when art, photography, videography or just any type of visual expression has no limits! This is wonderful, but also brings more challenges for those creating visual art, as everything around us competes for attention, time, love (read as likes) as well as money.
For this reason, when ever we find creatives who manage to mesmerize us with each post they create, we get excited and curious to find out more about them, their ideas, what drives and inspires them. Thierry Joubert, is one of those people. A talented destination wedding photographer from France, who strikes with an intense vibe of emotions, intimacy and honesty through his work. Many of you know him from workshops and conferences, but for those of you who don’t know Thierry yet, we’ve decided to create this interview. Enjoy and do pause to contemplate of the ideas he shares.
Thierry, your photos are full of meaning, emotions, intimacy. They perfectly hold the atmosphere, vibes and feelings of a given moment in time. What is your secret?
First of all, I’d like to thank you for those evocative words about my work, I’m really touched. Maybe working with my heart is my secret, even if I’m convinced that secrets and luck don’t exist in our jobs. Believing that some people have a secret is idealistic; thinking that others are just lucky is a kind of excuse for not having the courage to take the risks that might bring you luck. I love saying that I take pictures first with my heart and then with a camera. The camera is often defined as the extension of the mind… It captures an instance in time.
I work only with emotion, and it’s a word that characterizes my work pretty well. I always focus on the couple, on the human dimension. Human relationships are what helps me hang on and keep daring to dream in this industry.
How do you connect with clients? Is it important to connect and “love” your clients in order to tell their story in an emotional and honest way?
The connection happens naturally and simply during a face-to-face meeting or a Skype conversation for example. Relationships – whether professional or personal – can’t be forced. What’s going to happen is going to happen. Having this kind of connection with the couples I work with, and a connection with the human dimension in general, is a crucial and essential part of my work. In photography, a couple is no different to a colleague, we have to get along, understand and trust one another. It’s the foundation for a lasting friendship or professional relationship.
The words “honest way” are really important in your question. I have to, I am and I will always be honest with myself and others. Life is short, too short to spend it trying to play a role. It isn’t easy to want to be someone else but it’s perhaps even harder to dare to be yourself. If you don’t have a true desire to share, I don’t think you can exist and go the distance in the photography industry. And in any case, I don’t see how you could be happy without having that kind of motivation.
Has it ever happened that you couldn’t connect with a client? If yes, what did you do?
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Yes it did happen once and it was the best thing that ever happened.
You shoot a lot in black & white, why is that?
I take as many black and white as colored pictures, but it’s true that black and white has a special place in my heart and mind. My past has a role to play in this story and I like to explain why in my presentations.
I think that for some people working in the industry, photography is the natural continuation of their life story, their life experience and their past.
My past is very important to me. I move forward in the future but I will never be able to forget some of the things I have experienced in my life. At several times in my life, I wanted to have a profile picture taken by one of my peers..
I remember one of them, that is very dear to my heart. I analyzed it down to the line. I was looking to my left on the photo. Was it a way for me to show that I draw inspiration from my past and that I cannot forget it?
And of course, it was a black and white picture.
What has the biggest influence on your work and art?
Sometimes people ask me where I find my inspiration. I find it in my family, in the life I live every day alongside them, and I’m also inspired by the many journeys I have made. I always travel alone and I love that. It is “magical” to travel alone. It’s a time when you’re alone with your thoughts and when you can listen to what’s really going on inside your head. You open your mind to others. Being alone allows me to analyze a lot of things. Loneliness helps me stay creative.
At the same time, coming back home after long trips makes me realize how lucky I am to be with my wife and my two boys. It is essential for us to realize how lucky we are to be healthy, loved by our loved ones and alive in a peaceful world. The word “human” comes to mind again. I like people and the human relationships you can have on this Earth.
Does your personal life influence your work? Can you recall any events that have shaped your style?
As I like to explain in my conferences, I use my past to create my present photos. I draw on this past, on my first life. Today, thanks to my first story, I realize the value of life and the value of mine. Things that seemed important to me before now seem futile. I know where my priorities are and how lucky I am to live the life I lead. I don’t have time or space to be jealous, envy others or have negative thoughts. My past influences my work and especially the person I am.
Are personal projects and experiments important?
They are not important, they are vital. I have to have other projects and activities so that I don’t “run out of steam” in this one.
Did you ever have creative burnouts?
I don’t think I’ve ever had any creative burnout… I just feel from time to time the need to do something different and in those moments, recharging my batteries with my family is the best thing to do. I need to set my cameras aside, switch the computer off and forget about my mobile phone. Just focus on the essentials of my life.
How long does it take to build that creative confidence to do what you want, and trust your own gut and ideas, rather than just do what the client asks?
It’s something I work at every day. I would say that as far as I am concerned, I had to wait three years before becoming the person I wanted to be, to evolve where I wanted to evolve. I’m on a road that is mine. I share it with those who want to share it with me. The word sharing is important to me. I like to say “if you do what you want to do, you’ll get what you want”, and I really, truly believe what I say. Life belongs to those who dare. If you dare, happiness is at your fingertips, and mine is within reach. I’m not on a quest to become rich and famous by doing what I do, I just want to earn a living and be happy.
Believing in yourself and in the work you do is the ultimate reward for me. If you believe in yourself, your client can sense it and adapts to your style, trusts you and what you are doing.
If not photography, what would you be doing now?
Pass!;) But one thing that life has definitely taught me is that you have to dare if you want to get close to your dreams. You must dare to be happy, you must dare to live. I dared, and I’m happy today. My dreams have come true and I am no longer afraid to fulfill them. Life is too short to have regrets, I only have one life.
What’s on your bucket list for this year?
I don’t think I have a bucket list with a specific destination, location or type of wedding.
As far as I’m concerned, in this job, no matter the place or the beauty of a dress, what is really important is sharing and caring about the human dimension, at least, that’s what I consider to be important.
I just want to be happy and travel my road with people who trust me.
I just want to be happy and travel my road.
Actually, I just want to be happy.
In the end, isn’t that the ultimate goal of most of us? To be happy?
We all have a different definition of what “happy” means, and that’s ok. Just find yours, and dare to reach out and grab it. No one else can or will do it for you.