Laurent Laporte is a French photographer living in Paris for over a decade. He travels around the globe in order to observe and document the lives of people. He’s also passionate about photo documentary and fashion. This feature contains mainly from his series ‘Bookies and Gamblers, which is being showcased in any blog for the first time; and rest are a selection of his work.
About: I worked as a creative in advertising during ten years but the job and the life in Parisian ad agencies became quite boring. I knew it from the beginning that I was interested in too many things and not for spending my life just imagining tv ads for brands like Pepsi or Mercedes… After watching the movie ‘Into the wild’ for well over a hundred times I decided to quit and become a freelancer which is exactly the kind of life that I looked for. It provided me all the time that I needed for exploring, reading, listening, drinking and… taking pictures, finally. Photography is something that I practice since a long time but never did so seriously.
My beginning was more a kind of initiation about film photography. I loved vintage cameras like the Rolleiflex from the 50s, that I used to shoot a part of “The Strangers” in Tokyo and “Bombardier” in Senegal. I also shot “Plage Blanche” with a Rollei 35s and learnt a lot with a Canon F1. I surely shot with it ‘my first 10000 worst photographs’ to quote Henri Cartier-Bresson.
When I decided to quit, the agency gave me a bank check. I bought a second hand Leica M6, some Portra400 rolls and spent a month and a half in Los Angeles just to surf and take pictures. I came back to Paris with two series – one about the elderly surfers of San Onofre and the other about the gentrification of the “Ain Tract”, an architectural project originally made for the modest incomes families in the fifties which now became a hotspot for wealthy people behind Venice.
With the other series that I did before, I thought it was time to have a website to share my work and see what happens. It’s funny to see how long it takes to assume that you are a photographer and answer it is your profession when someone asks you, even if I still consider myself as a newbie.
Statement, style, preferences, etc.: It’s always the same thing when I travel. I spend a few days without really taking pictures, just looking if there is something that could make an interesting subject. I walk everywhere and go to some places that I would have never discovered if I hadn’t got a camera. But more than that, photography allows me to travel alone without losing the feeling of sharing. Sharing is for me the most important thing about photography. That maybe why I don’t consider myself having a particular style, I’m just trying to share something that obsessed myself precisely at the moment and it could be anything: Portraits, abstracts, fashion or photo documentary. If you have a look at my work, even the commissioned ones, it’s very heterogeneous. I can’t stay focused on something, it’s not my thing but I really respect the ones who do the opposite. Fortunately, I worked a lot with a very talented stylist named Gauthier Borsarello who is not afraid to follow me in all these different areas.
But, somehow I must admit that I have a particular affection for anecdotic, or even superficial subjects, I’m not into serious or dramatic photo documentary. When I was in Tangier, I did an essay about the fashionable patterns of the Islamic veil or more recently in Tibet when I took pictures of these monks wearing brand new sneaker, the old veterans surfers of San Onofre, the deserted beach resort in Morocco etc. I love to observe and analyse why and how these ‘micro-phenomenon’ happen. My pictures are just a testimony linked with my aesthetic mood of the moment.
I shoot film most of the time, I love the process and the surprise and risk about using it. I have now my own studio to develop and scan my color films. It’s like a ritual, long and boring sometimes but I need it for paying more attention on my own pictures once these are revealed.
About ‘Bookies and Gamblers’: I shot this series in the Shelbourne Park greyhound stadium of Dublin last month. A few months before, in Paris, I heard from a friend that a lot of interesting things happen there. First, the bets are organized by the official bookmakers and the unofficial ones which are very elegant people around the stadium. Then I heard that May was the month of the communions for all the young Dubliners. Their parents come here and drink, eat and bet a lot with their children who wear beautiful white dresses and small suits.
My influences: I know it’s always rather well regarded to enumerate unknown photographers with 132 followers on Instagram and even if I spend a lot of money every months in photobooks, I will keep it classic, simple and replace the word ‘influence’ by ‘admiration’.
So I will say, William Klein for his fresh ideas in fashion. Joel Meyerowitz for his ability to radically change from street photography to beautiful landscapes in Cape Light. William Eggleston for his bad-tempered genius. Vivianne Sassen because she’s surely the best today, and a number of photographers from Magnum like Martin Parr for his humor, Trent Parke for his lights, Alex Webb for his colors, Jerome Sessini for his guts, Jonas Bendiksen for his subjects or Antoine d’Agata for his quest.
As I said at the beginning, I’m interested in too many things to enumerate them but If I have to speak about one, it would be about the aesthetic of the director Paolo Sorrentino. “La Grande Bellezza” is surely my favorite movie. I can’t explain how jealous I was when I saw it for the first time. There are scenes like the one where the main character walks aside the Tiber and tells about his arrival inside the mundanities of Roma when he was young and three joggers are running in front of him and speak about management… For me, it’s just the ultimate level of cinematography.