Interview With August Monthly Theme Contest Winner Jasmin Gendron
2017 has been an incredibly bountiful year for the Street Hunters Monthly Theme Contests! Roy Rozanski, Kristof Vande Velde, Christoph Wuzella, Sreejith Kaviyil, Zlatko Vickovic, Svilen Nachev and Constantinos Arvanitis have guided us through the first seven months, capturing the crown in challenging themes with their superb images. Each month provides us with a new challenge, too! As I’ve said before, each batch of submissions becomes harder to judge because of the bar constantly being raised by the previous winners and the ever-increasing quality of the work being submitted.
August brought the fourth episode of our five-month run on colors in the Monthly Theme Contests. The color blue theme in July gave us many cool photos to pore over, but in August the theme warmed up again with the color yellow. The competition heated up as well, with a slew of scrumptious submissions!
Yellow proved to be anything but mellow when it came to choosing a winner, and as always, competition was definitely stiff. When the dust finally settled, one shot stood above the rest? And the photographer responsible? That would be Jasmin Gendron!
Jasmin Gendron, Street Photographer
Jasmin Gendron is a Quebec City-based Canadian photographer who is in the process of moving to Japan. He is a self-taught photographer who “uses street photography to immortalize energy and emotions from magnificent, human and comical scenes, with a poetic, subtle and unobtrusive approach.” Jasmin draws his inspiration from trips, trivial and big events to step out of his comfort zone and capture his images and he is also interested in how the environment impacts human actions and decision. His work has been featured in various online magazines, including 121 Clicks, Life Framer, Neocha and Dozodomo. His own website, http://www.jasmingendron.com, has gorgeous galleries of his various projects, including the hauntingly beautiful “Ghost Town Ni Naru”, a series of stunning shots that document the transition of his wife’s hometown into a “ghost town”. Gendron is a clever, skilled shooter whose work you should definitely check out! Follow the links at the end of the interview to further investigate!
Here at Street Hunters, we’re awarding the winners of each Monthly Theme Contest with all the exposure we can deliver! The exposure comes in three ways. First, the announcement post, which proclaims the winner of the contest and showcases their winning image. Second, an interview feature with the photographer. And third, a YouTube slideshow of their work. The feature posts will remain on the web for as long as Street Hunters exists!
- First, can you provide us with some background information about yourself? For instance, where are you from? How long have you been shooting? Are you a member of any photo collectives, groups or communities? Have you had any work published, shown in galleries, etc.?
I come from Canada, I was born in Quebec City and this is where I am still living while I am writing this interview. My interest into photography started at high school. My dad had an old Soviet reflex camera, a Zenit E. It was stored in a closet since my birth, and I started using it when I turned 14. Photography didn’t become a passion at that time, I simply enjoyed taking pictures once in awhile. In 2010 I got my first Digital SLR, since then I’ve started taking it more seriously. I do not collaborate with any collectives or groups, I am a happy “solitaire”. So far, some of my work has been published here and there in different art and photography online magazine, but that’s it.
- Tell us about this shot! The color yellow was the theme, and you managed to capture three different “yellows” in this shot! How did this shot come together for you? and was the color what brought the shot together for you? Was the contest on your mind or was this shot in your archive?
When I found out about the contest, I thought I could have a look in my archive and I see if there is a picture with a prominent yellow colour. “Shinjuku Onnanoko” is a picture I took about seven years ago in Japan. It’s a picture I’ve always really loved but never really paid much attention to. The colour was clearly the triggering element that had me pull out my camera that day. I said camera, but I actually took the picture with an iPhone 4. Trains in Tokyo aren’t that long, if I’d take the time to get my camera out of my backpack, I would have certainly missed the shot. Imagine this, you are in Shinjuku Station, one of the most crowded station in Tokyo, and there is this perfect subject with nobody around, surrounded by three sources of the same color. Chase Jarvis as said it: “the best camera is the one you have with you”, I think so too.
- How did you get into street photography? How long have you been shooting street and whose work influenced you the most?
At first I didn’t really know I was doing street photography. At that time I lived in downtown and what interested me was to get out of my apartment and take pictures of what’s happening outside. I wasn’t calling it street photography until I started watching photography videos on YT. I’ve been taking photos in the street for about 7 years now. I love the work of Martin Parr, he’s clearly one of the photographers who’s influenced me the most.
- What gear do you use? What focal length is your favorite to work with and why?
35mm is my favorite focal length. I dropped the big gear when Fujifilm put the X series on the market. I am an X100 user since the first model and right now I own a X100T which serves as my main camera. I have to say that I still enjoy shooting film once in a while, I used to have my own darkroom in the basement.
- The series Les Beaux Moments, on your website, demonstrates that you have the eye for “the moment” in everyday life. Is capturing “the moment” something that was crucial to your street photography from the start or did it develop as you grew as a photographer?
It wasn’t crucial at first, but I was definitely aware of it. Now I am always looking for the those “moments” even though I do not have a camera on me. It is something I developed with time, yes. Les Beaux Moments demonstrate the complicity between chance, automatism and foresight through photography and I think those aesthetics need to be well understood to capture “the moment”. That’s what I’ve been working on.
- You are self-taught. Do you feel that has freed you creatively? Do you think there are any drawbacks to being an autodidact?
I recently had a conversation concerning this subject with a good friend and yes I do think that being an autodidact has freed me more creatively. It allows you to follow your rhythm and forge your knowledge upon your own failure. It’s also made me a more patient and opportunist photographer. I do not believe there are any drawbacks.
- You live in Quebec City, but you have shot in Japan and New York as well. Do you find travel sparks your creativity and keeps your street photography fresh? Does your approach change when traveling? Where is your favorite place to shoot?
I can’t really say if it keeps it fresh, but traveling certainly sparks creativity and it really gives me motivation to shoot more. I try to keep the same approach wherever I shoot, but I clearly adapt my style to the place I go. I’ve had the chance to spend quite a lot of time shooting street photography in Tokyo since 2011, it is definitely my favorite place to shoot.
- “Ghost Town Ni Naru” is a series about your wife’s home town becoming a ghost town and it’s quite powerful and personal. I think the series is a compelling blend of street and documentary photography. Did you approach this project as documentary work? Does environment influence your street photography as well?
This photography project was created upside down. I knew for a long time that I wanted to create something about my wife’s home town, but I was never sure how to approach the subject properly. Eventually, I decided to stop thinking and started to go out and shoot more often. I handled the project as if it was a documentary work, yes, but I absolutely wanted to blend some sort of street photography into it. I think environment influence everything, street photography as well.
- I love winter street photography and your Instagram feed has plenty of great winter shots. Do you enjoy shooting in wintry conditions or do you do it because you “have the need” to go out and shoot? How much more of a challenge is it compared to fair weather?
Thank you! I love looking at winter street photography too, but to be honest, I do not enjoy shooting in winter that much. Winter is long in Quebec, if you don’t want to become a “part time” street photographer, you have to get use to working in the cold.
During the coldest months, I have to admit that there must be a special event going on or the weather has to be spectacular, to make me get out. Otherwise, I only take pictures during my everyday travel. It’s easy to hide and keep your camera warm under your jacket. I carry my camera with me pretty much all the time. Quebec’s winter can be a real challenge for photographers, believe me. Think about handling material with cold hands and fluffy gloves, snow on the lens, condensation and do not forget weak battery life…
- Speaking of Instagram, how important do you think having a presence on that platform is as a street photographer? Some think that social media has a negative impact on street. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of the growth of street photography on social media are?
I think your presence on Instagram is only important if you think it is yourself. There are still a lot of multi awarded photographers who have no presence on Instagram. On my side, I really enjoy the App, it gives me fresh inspiration and good motivation to go out and shoot. I think social media has made street photography a more accessible and renown activity, which is great. Can’t really figure out any disadvantage yet.
- What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? Any projects, exhibitions or publications in the works?
From January 2018, my wife, our two sons and I, will be moving to Japan. Somewhere about 2 hours away from Tokyo. As a street photographer, it really is a blessing to have the chance to move to Asia, there’s so much going on over there! There is one particular project that I’ve been preparing for quite a while now, and I’m really excited to start shooting it once we are settled. I’ll keep you guys in touch with it!
Where You Can See Jasmin Gendron’s Work