Interview: Samuel Moulin

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Can you tell us more about your background?

I studied philosophy in Toulouse, France, because I am French. I am not a professional photographer, even though I happened to do commissionned works on a regular basis, and work for the paper press. I am working as a French teacher, and I also perform special photo classes for children in the town I live in. I teach the kids how to build pinhole cameras and process black and white film.

How long have you been doing photography?

I really came to photography as a serious hobby around 2005 (I was 25 then), after having pointlessly burnt a lot of colour film with an old camera belonging to my parents. It was a compulsive practice designed to record visual impressions, but I would never look at the pictures, and if I ever did, I was so disappointed by the results. In order to save money, I thus decided I should learn how to take photos !

Whose or what kind of work inspires you? What are your favorite places/objects to shoot?

As I had read much more about philosophy than about photography, I started to shoot as a philosopher, and tried to turn into litteral views the views I had in mind. As the idea of the self and of the consciousness was my main field, I started very early to photograph myself. That’s why I can say one of my favorite photographic objects is … me ! I also like to photograph the lights of the night, and the abandonned places.

How do you educate yourself? Do you read special literature, visit photography galleries?

I made my teaching on the terrain, and by exchanging with some amazing other photographers on the Internet and in real life. I don’t read specialised press about cameras and software and other technical stuff, because I prefer getting the information from real people that I meet, and by my own experiments. But I like to read essays about art and photography.

What photo books/magazines do you have on your bookshelf?

Last to show on my bookshelf was the encyclopedic “La Photographie”, from André Rouillé. And a book I really would like to see standing beside is the very impressive “Beneath The Roses”, a collection of photos of Gregory Crewdson. Another artist who’s inspiring me these days is Patrick Tosani.

What is your preferred time to shoot? Are you specializing in a particular area of photography?

As of now, most of my pictures are taken in the thin gap between low daylight and night, in the twilight zone. Mainly in the evening, because I’m never fully operational before noon. I’m also preparing a body of work about the closed shops of my city, to document in the most esthetical way the effects of the economy breakdown. I mostly work with a Canon 5D and a medium format Mamiya, in analogic. I also use a Diana, a Holga, a Mamiya Press (for Polaroid), a Yashica, in fact my home is a haven for savaged old dysfunctional cameras ! I happen to manufacture some pinhole cameras for friends and children I work with. When I decided to take on photography more seriously, I also wanted to cover any aspect of it, and thought I had to learn how to shoot and process film.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in photography and wants to improve their photography skills?

If I was to give some advice to aspiring photographers, in the way to improve their skills, I’d say, first, in a matter of warning : hey, you’ll never be fully happy with your achievements !
But, two : no matter, you have to experiment photography without boundaries ! Photography is all about the light and the light is one of the most incredible things to play with in the world.
Three : this is a game.

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