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Behind the Lens With Yves Dorison

Behind the Lens With Yves Dorison

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Meet Yves Dorison:
I'm a independent photographer since several years only and I kept my job in a French school as School Counsellor. Most of my work consists of jazz photography. For the past few years I have worked with musicians for their press relations. I made a book with the French author Alain Gerber called The Way You Look Tonight, with 75 pictures and 75 poems (not available anymore alas! ). I currently work with a young French artist on a long run project called Photo_Graphismes, which presents a graphic work based on words next to the picture. Both are presented in the same frame.

I use the Nikon D700 camera. My choice of lenses : the 2.8/80- 200, 2/35 and 1.4/50 Nikon lens. On my computer I only use Capture NX.

Teachers and/or influences?
Herman Leonard, André Kertesz and Josef Koudelka are some of those who impress me.

I knew I wanted to be a photographer when...
I understand that the deepness of black & white was the most poetical way (to try) to capture the hidden part of the person behind the musician.

Your approach to photography:
My camera, my lenses, no flash. I always try to do the modicum of shoots because I hate editing! In fact, I love to make the best shot, even if I miss a lot of others. It needs a good knowledge of the equipment and a strong concentration. It's fine to have a good relationship with the musician and his music. No good shot without empathy! I compose my images on the moment and never crop them after because I always feel my work like an improvised form during the concert.

Your teaching approach/philosophy:
Don't try to redo what was already made. The influences must feed your originality, not to strangle it. Practice a lot. Have a clear look on your work. Take the time to eliminate bad and middle pictures without regret. Be humble. The biggest photographer of every time has not been born yet!

Your biggest challenge when shooting indoor (or low lighted) events:
To always do the best possible shot with the little available light. It's sometimes almost impossible. Keep the "almost" is the real challenge! However, the material is now often capable of following our photographic desires.

Your biggest challenge when shooting outdoor events:
I rarely shoot outdoor except on great summer festivals where it is difficult to do a good job, first because of the conditions imposed by musicians managers, and also because of some photographers, whose behavior has nothing to do with art. I'm absolutely right with Richard Conde when he says that this "every man for himself" mentality is truly hurting our profession. But they are more and more numerous—and we have to deal with it. This is sometimes more than a challenge...

Favorite venue to shoot:
The Chorus jazz club in Lausanne, Switzerland is one of my favorite places. I also like to work at the Opera in Lyon in France, where the little scene for jazz concerts is perfectly lit.

Favorite festival to shoot:
The Jazz en Tête festival in Clermont-Ferrand, France is my favorite place, for its original lightning. I also prefer small and medium-sized festivals, where the photographers are better considered and less numerous.

Where was your first assignment location?
My first job was for a CD produced by a great French radio. They forgot to pay me; now I work directly with the musicians.

Your favorite musician(s) to photograph:
I have enjoyed great pleasure working with saxophonists; Francesco Bearzatti, Jacques Schwarz-Bart and Ellery Eskelin are some of my favorites. Singers interest me a lot, too, and especially Dianne Reeves and Jeanne Added. Drummers fascinate me. It is more than a match with them to catch the pure moment! Ultimately, however, all musicians are interesting, provided that their mannerisms give me a good way of working in my own style.

Did you know...
that, in the past, I was a lumberjack, an agricultural worker, and with international trade fairs before working in a school—but always with a camera. My first one was a Rollei 35s (I still have it), then a Nikon FM and a Contax 139. I stopped photography for several years at the beginning of the digital era when some films disappeared (Kodachrome 25, Kodak Vericolor, Agfa films). I bought my first digital camera in 2004 just to try it.

Your favorite jazz story:
Shooting at the Chorus jazz club in Lausanne two years ago, I photographed Lee Konitz. He told me before the gig, "first tune of the first set, first tune of the second." I answered, "Ok, from first of the first to first of the second!" He let me work as I wanted. During the first set, he spoke with my daughter (seven years old at this time), because she didn't applaud loud enough for him! He finally played a solo ballad just for her in the second set. It was a beautiful connection between us, in spite of the 75 years which separate us. But the lightning was awfully low and I just saved three or four photos as souvenirs.

View more Yves Dorison photos at All About Jazz

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