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Artist Spotlight: Louis Delbarre

Louis Delbarre is an MA Photojournalism, Documentary Photographer at the London College of Communication based in France. We got to chat to Louis about his life, work and inspirations.

Can you tell me a little about yourself and your work?

My name is Louis Delbarre, I am a 22 years old French Photojournalist and Documentary Photographer, from the North of France. I grew up in a city called Lille where I start to document my surroundings and the people around me.

I Come from a political science and photography background. My activist and documentary approach creates a passionate work with politically engaged images, while always remaining respectful towards my subject. My practice combines political science theories, investigative journalism, the use of archival material and photography. Most of my work is based around personal stories that I put into a bigger context. I tend to tell stories that we don’t know about yet or that we don’t know much about.

‘Jesus Offers you a New Life’ from the project Black Monday by Louis Delbarre

What inspires you? Do you have any influences?

My first experience with visual storytelling was influenced by movies and documentaries. I always had a lot of respect to documentary filmmakers and I believed that influenced my work and the person that I am. On a strict photography point of view, I have always been admirative of the work of Edmund Clark, there is a mix of investigation and photography. It raises question about the making of images itself, the purpose of photography and the use of it.

One of the first photobook that I bought was Tulsa, a Photobook from Larry Clark, documenting drug abuse and his youth with his friends in Tulsa, Texas.

I think my main source of influence was a Belgium/French TV show that not much people know about called “Strip Tease”. It is a series of small video documentary, documenting the life of people that you would never see on TV. Most of those documentaries focus on the story of people living a simple life, caught in their everyday life, filmed the most simple and honest way possible. It is made in a very specific way where the documentary maker disappear behind the camera and gives a very honest view into people’s life.

These pieces of documentary photography, film and investigative pieces of journalism really Influenced the way I think and how I create work.

How does your work reflect your lived experience?

I come from a very politically activist side and I think it really shaped the way I work. I tend to understand and see the world through the prism of the society where people just evolve in it. Seeing how everything is constructed and how people react to a system that is bigger than them.

‘Deep Down in the Valley’ from the project Black Monday by Louis Delbarre

What do you wish for your viewers to take from your work?

I like focusing on issues that nobody cares about. I really wish that, by showing my work, people will start learning about the stories I showed or talked about. In a sense I want the viewer to feel the importance of those stories and the sense of urgency in my work and the stories that I am bringing to the public. I truly believe that anything we do is deeply political; I hope that people get that from my work.

What is your process?

I usually do a lot of research before starting a project, books, articles and movies mostly and then I try to get in contact with my subjects. This is a very long process and the main difference between photojournalism and documentary photography, I guess. I usually spend a lot of time with my subject before even starting to take pictures. Getting to know people and getting their trust and understanding the subject before starting to get picture is the most important part.

‘Portrait of C’ from the project Lille, Saison des Pluies by Louis Delbarre

How did you develop your style?

I think that I am still developing my style today. I just begun in photography documentary. My approach to documentary photography is very much trying to show and explain what I cannot do with words. I tend to work with the notion of presence and absence as photography is the best tool for me to tell those stories of absence. My studies in political science and my activist point of view really shaped what I want to talk about and how I am going to approach it.

‘Drinking some Tea’ from the project Lille, Saison des Pluies by Louis Delbarre

What’s next for you?

I kind of want to go deeper into the investigative journalism. I realized the importance of journalism in my work and my career. In the future I hope I will to create pieces of work that are visually impacting but also approaching subject in depth that most media or artist don’t talk about. I have a big interest for the stories that nobody talks about.

‘The King of Kings’ from the project We Will Meet Again by Louis Delbarre

Have you got any advice for photographers starting out on their journey?

It is very cliché but I think you should be passionate about your work and keep making work no matter what, even making work for yourself without even thinking if it is going to be published or shown anywhere. Document what you like, what you think is interesting and what you don’t see often in the mainstream media or online.

You will find what you like to do on the way.

Be patient, photography and documentary photography is a very long process. Everybody work at their own pace, there is no shame to take your time doing a project and doing mistakes, going back to take more picture or document yourself some more.

Study the ethics of representation and picture making. Be aware of the power photography can have and the power you own while taking pictures. It is very important to create a work that is respectful towards your subject, not offensive and well documented. If you can transcribe how complex things are through your images, then I think you are in the right way.

“Zümrüd-ü Anka’ from the project We Will Meet Again by Louis Delbarre


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