After spending another two years in France and two years in Los Angeles, I am returning to Senegal. I feel like I am going back home. Africa is to be merited. All is a matter of vibrations and respect. You do not choose Africa, Africa chooses you. It's really fascinating!
The African models, the black skin with the distinctive way it reacts to light, it absorbs the colors. Technically, there are things to consider, and it's all very exciting. Finally, I love to work with models that have had very little experience. It allows me to mould the concept. I want to give my images a natural aspect, almost naive.
UZURI: As a French photographer, where is the most exciting place that you have photographed?
Stéphane: There are plenty of interesting places, whether it is the atmosphere, ambience, colors or light ...
For me personally, it is rather the working conditions and the people that I photograph that make the shoot special. I am privileged with the lighting and the atmosphere.
I consider one of my favorite sessions with Katoucha (RIP) at the baobab forest in Senegal. It had incredible mythical aspect. Also, I appreciate the beaches of Los Angeles and the Californian desert for the lighting. For my series in the exhibition "Ici l’Espoir" I shot the photos from the terrace of my house in Dakar, which I found perfect for the intimate side of creativity.
UZURI: Who are your most intriguing international celebrity clients?
Stéphane: Of course I had the chance to photograph a good number of celebrities, but this is not what I keep in mind. Each person I photograph deserves my total investment. I have to put all my heart in the photos. I tend to think that I often try to align the camera lens, my eye and my soul.
I shoot the photos the same way for a famous actor, a president, a model or a mother. Everyone deserves the best I can offer. Each shooting is a new story, a new challenge, a new adventure. The next shot is always the most important.
UZURI: What inspired your work to the call of humanitarian duty?
Stéphane: It was obvious; the need to render to Africa what it gave me.
What is a better way to do than by using my know-how?
I had the pleasure to work with UNICEF, UNESCO, OXFAM and others. This makes me feel very proud.
UZURI: Why do you think your recent photos, in which exposes much of African suffrage receives such criticism?
Stéphane: I think it is a combination of a lot of things. The quality and the originality of the images, the choice of the subject and the way I chose to expose it. For example, with natural light and no lamp or reflectors, without any preparation in order to grasp the real eyes, the real reactions . No cropping and no retouching.
I complicated my job by photographing black skin models in front of a black background, and using white or shiny material. It would not have been that exciting if it was so easy to achieve.
This exhibition is my heart laid bare with a true message of hope for Africa.
UZURI: What do you think is the most important thing for a photographer to capture when doing a photo shoot?
Stéphane: I think a photo should tell a story, talk to the viewer, and show an emotion, a quality; whether it is happiness, joy, sorrow, humility ... To be read either with a smile or a look ... I think a picture should be intimate. I have always considered the simplest images as the most beautiful. I try to get the best shots to avoid retouching and reediting my pictures.
Fade dark circles, remove a spot, convert an image in black and white is all that I allow myself.
Today, too many photographers are not real photographers, but rather alterationists of images. They do not study the picture, they study the software revisions. This we can feel in advertising's and magazines campaigns. The skins are too smooth, the silhouettes are refined, and the photos lose all expression.
Of course, I will do it if the client requests it, but then the image is no longer mine.
I'm like that, from the old school.
UZURI: Do you have a point of focus for your next big photo production?
Stéphane: Yes, lots of things to come.
From autumn, I have a lot of work with FESMAN (World Festival of Negro Arts) in Dakar, Senegal: Visual communications, cultural guide, portraits of artists and others.
I have two exhibitions in April and September 2011 in Los Angeles.
And finally, a project dear to my heart since the past few years, a book on Senegal, a sort of gallery of portraits of children, fishermen and old people, ...
I am also very excited by some video musical projects with artists that I particularly like. But here again, I wish to realize these videos with my photographer eyes and not as a director. I want to make beautiful images, not special effects.
UZURI: Thank you for this wonderful interview and the opportunity to feature your work in our print version and now in UZURI.com
Stéphane: It's a pleasure. Looking forward to more collaboration in the future.
For more information, visit http://www.stephanetourne.com/