Olivier Ramonteu is a photographer from Lyon, France. He’s been shooting very impressive and dramatic portraits in outdoor locations. He had his education in literature and turned to photography to vent his feelings, and to express his visions and ideas. Most of his portraits exhibit an unease and distress, while some reveal inner calm and mystical disposition. Olivier has also shot conceptual photos and some brilliant fine art images in a very carefully selected ambiance where strangeness settles in every pixel. Working as a communication manager, Olivier had some discontentment and wanted to devote more time and energy to pursuit of photography. He devised some interesting projects and took splendid photos which make for most of this post. Here’s our Q&A part with Olivier:
What can I say to introduce myself ? Well, I’ll start with my ID. I am Olivier Ramonteu, a 34 year old photographer living in Lyon, France. But this is not the manner I should define myself, so I should continue with a more intimate part of me.
When I was 17, I realized that literature was an open territory that I had to explore. So, during the half of my life, I have exhausted myself into study of novels, poetry and theater. At the end of my studies, I had to find a way to get back into reality. That’s how I became a communication manager for big institutions (a national museum and the lawyers’ bar association). After seven years of that life, I have decided to start a new experience and to become a professional photographer.
Today, Literature still has a great place in my life, as a hobby and a source of inspiration. I am also addicted to travels. Each year, I spend at least one month in a foreign country as a backpacker.
When did you take your first pictures and when you got serious into it?
I think I had my first digital camera about eight years ago. But it was just to take pictures of my friends or during holidays without any reflection about what I was doing.
I began to wonder “what those buttons are here for?” and “what’s the meaning of what I am doing?”. Maybe four years ago, I became a very enthusiastic photographer and in three years I started to do some commissioned works from times to times during the weekends, the evening after my main job or during holidays.
Since the past year, as I already said, I am now a full time professional (and still an enthusiast) photographer.
This a very tough question because there are a lot of unconscious reasons why I take pictures. But the most obvious one is poetry. I mean that I consider each picture as a poem: a piece of art that contains a whole universe, its own rules in it. Photography for me is just another form of poetry.
Meeting people is another good reason why I love photography. It’s so inspiring to work with models, stylists, actors, make-up artists or other photographers.
Diversity is my key! I try to practice a lot of different kinds of photography even if I am probably better in portraits or in dreamy atmospheres.
What camera/lenses, settings, and software do you use and prefer?
The digital half of me uses a 5D MkIII with 24-70L, 135L or a 50mm by Zeiss. And the analog part of me uses a Minolta XD7, a Zeiss Ikon contaflex, a Holga, a Hasselblad and a Mamiya C220.
Tell us about your experience with film and film cameras:
I’m in love with film photography. It is so challenging compared to digital! And most of the “soul” of your image is made by the choice of your camera. With digital camera, the soul appears during post-processing. It is a very different approach. But I love the both.
The type of camera I use really depends on the project I’m working on, this choice is meaningful and has to be done in order to serve the project. For instance, in a project called “Dance with…” I used my Holga because I was looking for deep and intense feelings. It dealt with primitive expressions so the Holga was perfect because its image is very raw.
My biggest achievements is always the next one. I don’t look back very often. Once I’ve finish a work, I begin to stress about the next one!
Of course, some of my works are more complex or some of my clients are more famous than others, but I love them all and the only things that makes me happy is to hear from my client, from my model or from people who were involved in my projects that they loved the result.
You’ve recently shot your project focusing on dreams. Did you want to express the ideas of duality in human life and world, right?
Indeed, in my project “Through dreams”, I try to deal with the frontier between dream, nightmare and reality. My main idea is to create beautiful but disturbing scenes.
I always thought that the antique Greek notion of Beauty wasn’t right. I prefer the romantic version of beauty, based upon the idea that beauty could also come from ugliness. That’s why I try to create beautiful images based upon disturbing elements. It creates a much more complex combination of emotions.
Moreover, I am a fan of a French poet named Stéphane Mallarmé. He often described the temptation of a perfection that could never be reached. So the poet always has to deal with reality and its ugliness. There is often that movement in my pictures- the temptation of an elevation, of an escape, that a burden makes impossible.
Nowadays Internet is an amazing tool to discover new talents. But it also has negative consequences. A lot of artists are more interested by their fame than by a real creativity. And success has nothing to deal with talent.
What are your next steps? What are your inspirations and favorites in photography?
It’s not so easy to keep being motivated, even if being a photographer is an amazing work. But I still have a lot of ideas floating somewhere in my mind that I really want to achieve.
I follow a lot of great photographers but most of them don’t really inspire me in my own work. Only a few do. Among them I could mention Brooke Shaden and Miss Aniela because they had a direct influence on my work.
Would you like to say something to our readers?
Do not run after success, follow your passion.