Photography 101: Be Likeable (?)


I’ve found in my work that people who photograph for a living–and in particular who travel to photograph–often seem to possess a refreshing humility and openness about their work. Perhaps it has to do with a level of wisdom they inevitably gain in patiently observing various forms and facets of life through a camera lens. Or perhaps it’s a chicken-and-egg situation–only those with certain traits are suited for the profession.

Regardless, I’ve come across another such professional photographer, Bertrand Meunier, whose images of China I’ve found very moving. Though somewhat minimalist in their presentation, being predominantly black-and-white and with fairly simple and uncluttered focal points and backgrounds, I can’t help but feel that they are trying to speak or reach out to me in some way. And it’s not the human subjects in the frame that are trying to communicate, but rather the captured ‘moments’ in their entirety that seem to hold weight, or a message in themselves. I was able to get in touch with Bertrand, who currently resides in his native Paris, France to ask him a little bit about himself and his work:

What led to you becoming a professional photographer? Did you do anything else prior to this career?

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I had been working in film industry prior to becoming a photographer, as an assistant. I started photography late–when I was around 30–and I learned it by myself.

It was very important for me to express myself my own vision of this world.

What is your vision of this world?

Well, perhaps, I have to say I have a pessimistic way in seeing the world–at least, sometimes, in my photography. Because relationships between humans are run by power, strength, domination…

Do you have a favourite place or subject to photograph?

Yes, China. I became fascinated by the political and social transformations of the society. After more than 25 years of Maoism, China was, with Deng Xiaoping’s rule, on its way to becoming an individualistic society and a capitalist system. I’ve tried to show the consequences on the industrials cities in some of my photography. Though I’ve never lived in China, I’ve travelled there a lot and it has been my favourite place as a photographer for many years.

What is on the horizon for you now?

Photographing Hong Kong cage homes is part of my long-term project on China. (Some of Hong Kong’s poorest residents live in mesh boxes, or ‘cages.’) I think I need to go back there and shoot more before I can think to do anything with this material. My ten-minute video called ‘Erased’ will also be shown at the Laos festival in June of next year.

More info on Bertrand and his photography can be found at

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