Friday, June 8, 2007
Michel Tcherevkoff - The Image Maker
Michel Tcherevkoff's process of creation takes his imagination in new directions as he embraces digital technology
I moved from Paris to New York in 1971. Right from the beginning I was different—my accent, my name, which no one could pronounce. In France, I had found myself in law school, miserable. I longed for a life in a more artistic, creative field. It's said that many photographers become photographers because they cannot draw. I had always been an image-oriented person, but my dreams of art school had been tempered by my feelings that I wasn't good enough at drawing and painting. Out of that frustration, my attraction to the camera was born.
My route from frustrated law student to professional photographer was both unique and serendipitous. My sister, who was modeling in New York, introduced me to the legendary photographer, Pete Turner. Although I had absolutely no experience in photography, Turner took a chance and offered me a job. While it didn't pay much, I had unlimited possibilities to learn from him and work in his studio. Turner taught me that the unexpected is a valuable and rare commodity, and it was during this period that I began to visually interpret my thoughts.
In the early '70s, it was a popular trend for photographers to use “Rembrandt light” to set off realistic, large-format images. The dramatic and direct light gave the photography a very painterly look. To me, it lacked imagination. As I had no formal art training, my thinking came from left field without any rules or boundaries. I didn't have much interest in doing things as others were doing them.
My approach to commercial photography was a little unorthodox. A client would contact me and tell me their ideas. I'd give it some thought on my own and, frequently, I'd have a wild and completely different idea. I'd give the client the shot I was hired for, but I'd also create an alternate image for myself. When I'd show the alternate to the client, sometimes it was that image they chose. Eventually, clients would come to me for my own vision rather than my ability to achieve their vision for an image.