After sharing a few of his images in the past, we felt we wanted to know more about Nicolas de Bouville, so he became interview number 42 in this series. We have to confess to a bit of camera envy over his collection!
Section 1 - Background
Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?
It’s so hard to pick one image only. If I think about one of the last series I did, I really like this picture of Alejandro. I’m used to photograph Alejandro in a very different setting, as a drag performer, and this was the first time we were trying something a bit different. I’m very happy with the motion, I used a long exposure, starting with a flash to capture a clear picture and then I asked Alejandro to move slightly on the left to capture the motion with the continuous light. I’ve been using this process quite a lot recently and results can sometimes be very surprising.
Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?
My background is quite far from the world of photography. I studied law and am now specialized in the field of technology and fundamental rights. It is only a little bit more than 4 years ago that I started to dive into photography. When I discover a subject that fascinates me, I tend to throw myself into it body and soul and that was the case with photography. I have been developing photographic projects that try to capture in a coherent way the environment in which I evolve and the things that attract me. I hope one day to be able to gather all these images and share them in the way I imagined them to be.
How and why did you get started shooting film?
My first experience with photography was during a trip to Japan. I took a digital camera with the idea to bring back a series of pictures a little more constructed than just touristy pictures. A photographer friend of mine helped me to sort out these pictures. During our exchanges a subject often came up, that of the materiality of the photos. I felt a lack without being able to explain it. My friend then advised me to start using film, and I haven't stopped since. The fact of loading the camera, of spending time to develop the films, to make prints etc. gave me back this feeling of working a material, it is a very important aspect for me.
Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?
The great Japanese photographers are a constant source of inspiration. I like the rough and wild side of Moriyama with this grain so present or the dark side of Fukase. But the much more confidential photographs of the Swiss poet Gustave Roud also touch me particularly. In the end, as in music or literature, I think it is important to be interested in various currents and aesthetics.
What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?
Probably the best advice I received was simply to start film photography. Not to be intimidated and to go straight to shooting, developing and printing.
What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?
Since 2019 I am working on two parallel series. One on artists and drag performers in Paris and the other one on flowers.
In both cases it touches upon the notions of ephemerality and beauty, and the objective is to put them both side by side.
Both series are thought with quite dramatic lightning where the subjects come out of the darkness for a moment, before going back to it. Performers are used to that, after they perform they know they have to come back to the “real world”, outside the lights. In a way, the same applies to flowers, they show us their most beautiful, dramatic or fragile appearance, before fading away.
What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?
My next shoot will be quite different from what I've done so far. I will be doing a series of photos for a Parisian jeweller, Persta. The idea being to highlight the jewellery and the body and combine flowers and the type of light I like. I'm not sure how it's all going to work out yet but I'm excited to try new things. I will be using my Hasselblad 503cw (which is really my go-to camera right now) probably with Delta 100 and also some colour films.
What are your photographic goals going forward? (Can be business or personal).
Moving forward my main goal is to find a way to show my work in the real physical world. I would love to see my photos in large prints so that all the details of medium format films or 4x5 films can be seen. And a huge plus would be to be able to show my work and have the people I photograph perform at the same time.
Section 2 - Shout outs
We all need a bit of inspiration and love so this is your chance to tell the community about yours – from the film photographers whose work inspires you, the labs you trust with your film, your ‘go to’ film photography stockists, your favourite community darkrooms or just anyone in the community who you feel deserves a special mention.
Give a shout out to your 3 favourite film photographers (not photography hubs) currently active on IG or Twitter and briefly tell us why others should follow them.
Edouard Elias (@edouard_elias): Edouard Elias is an amazing photographer and a source of inspiration. What I especially like in his photography, beside the formalistic beauty of his shots, is that you can see he really cares about the topics he works on. There is a deep reflection about how to photograph, what gear to use and how it relates to the topic (in particular on his Ukraine work), what’s the message behind the photos. In a world where images are consumed without much attention, it is good to see this kind of work.
Ben Adam (@greponvisuals): I wish my colour photography were as good as his! I love hiking in the Alpes so whenever I miss this when sitting at my desk in Paris it’s a pleasure to see his beautiful photographs.
George Muncey (@g_muncey): I especially like his portraits which are very subtle and delicate.
Give a shout out to your favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).
Craig Prentis YouTube channel has been a very important source of information and inspiration when I started using my 4x5 camera. It’s also thanks to him that I started shooting panoramic with my Mamiya 7 II. And his dog is adorable, so one more reason to check him out.
Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers.
My two to-go shops are:
Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one.
I don’t use lab service.
Section 3 - Favourite kit
What film cameras do you own and which is your favourite?
Leica M6: it’s my day-to-day camera, I love the ergonomy, how easy it is to shoot with it. And yeah, it looks just great…
Mamiya 7II: I’ve been using the mamiya a bit less these days, but I like the 6x7 format. It’s also quite fun to use the panoramic kit. The Mamiya optics are so sharp, that’s probably what’s impressed me the most at first.
Rolleiflex: Love my rolleiflex. I never really used it for a specific project, I just take it with me sometimes to enjoy shooting with it. It’s a also a great tool to start a conversation with strangers in the street, people are always very curious about it.
Hasseblad 503cw: That’s definitely my go-to camera for serious projects. I just love everything about this camera.
Shen Hao PT45: it’s a nice and light 4x5 camera. I’ve been using it in the field and in studio.
Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?
My lightmeter and a cable release for long exposures
What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?
When I found the complete panoramic kit for the Mamiya 7 II for only a few euros I was really very excited. (Especially when you see the price online!)
As this is an ILFORD interview it would be remiss of us not to ask about your favourite ILFORD products. Tell us you favourite ILFORD film, paper or chems and why?
I started film photography with HP5, and I still stick to it on many projects. I love the grain and also how tolerant it is in terms of exposure. Whatever mistake you make you will always be able to make something out of it!
I’ve been using a lot of Delta 100 lately, especially on large format. The contrast are beautiful and I love how fine the grain is.
Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them
Edouard Elias (insta: @edouard_elias)
Images © Nicolas de Bouville
About The Author
Nicolas de Bouville
I studied law and am now specialized in the field of technology and fundamental rights. It is only a little bit more than 4 years ago that I started to dive into photography
Follow me on Instagram @ndbvll
Headshot © Edouard Elias