Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Vincent Laforet - Improbable Reality
Vincent Laforet's photographs are rarified, captured milliseconds caught in an artist's light
The LCD monitor is one of the great aspects of shooting digital. Many photographers make the change from shooting film solely to have the instant feedback of the LCD at their disposal. While it's an incredibly useful feature, the monitor can be a distraction, too. As far as his compositional and aesthetic sensibilities, there's not too much difference between shooting film and digital for Laforet. He uses the LCD monitor, but he doesn't constantly review as he's shooting.
“I don't compose by cropping,” he says. “I get the moment of surprise when I capture it, not when I push back to review it on the LCD monitor. I'll find the way the light hits a scene and then I'll wait for instinct to take over.”
Too often, instinct takes a back seat for digital shooters because of the reliance on the LCD monitor. Laforet has a solid background in film technique, which enables him to know he got the shot as he took it, without needing to review it immediately.
Getting to this point in his career, Laforet's background includes some impressive proving grounds. One of the youngest staff photographers ever hired at The New York Times, Laforet was just 27 years old when he received the Pulitzer Prize for his humanizing images of the aftermath of 9/11 in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Born in Switzerland to French parents, his family moved to New York when he was five. A childhood of summers in France exposed him to a European aesthetic. Says Laforet, “I used photo magazines as my resource to learn to distinguish between different styles of photography.”
As Laforet wasn't drawn to reading and writing due to childhood dyslexia, he was attracted to the concept of communicating through art rather than words and studied oil painting, life drawing and music. At 15, he picked up his father's camera; it literally and figuratively clicked for him that he would be a photographer.
“I think the years of fine-art theory gave me a head start when I decided on photography,” he says.
In New York, Vincent attended Lycée Français high school and then The Dalton School. Not surprisingly, he was the photographer for the school newspaper, but what was more extraordinary was that at the same time, when he was just 17, he began working for Corbis Pictures on the music beat. Traveling from concert to concert, he had to learn how to selectively frame chaos with movement and changing light. Before long, he received more varied magazine assignments.
Laforet was graduated from college with a BSJ in Print Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Says Laforet, “I just fell into sports photography and wound up covering the last three seasons of Michael Jordan as a Chicago Bull. If watching Michael Jordan play ball doesn't make you see sports photography as beautiful, nothing will. Veterans of 40 years were astounded by his fluid power and sheer dominance of the sport.”
Page 2 of 4