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Through The Lens

Robert Gaudette

March 16, 2010, by Chelsea Coyle

Location
Toronto

Website
  • www.robertgaudette.com
  • (article continues below)


    model: Andy (Sutherland), by Robert Gaudette

    What photographers have influenced you and how?
    I'm a real fan of photographers who fuse the art portrait and fashion. Photographers like Hedi Slimane and Paolo Roversi. Also, in a much different styling, Terry Richardson's work. I really find that their work focuses much more on the subject, expression and mood. Something the viewer connects with. You can really strip everything away from those types of photos and they still remain powerful images.

    There's also a group of amateur women photographer/bloggers on sites like Tumblr that are shooting polaroids, holgas and dianas that are creating really emotional and dreamy portraits.

    Im also really influenced by what I see others in my peer group doing (around Toronto) and seeing how everyone is developing and taking on really distinct styles.

    Did you have a moment when you realized, within yourself, that you were skilled enough to do this for a living and if so when was that or what was it like?
    I jumped in with both feet really early and just decided that this was what I was going to do fulltime. When I wasnt working, I was going to study and practice. I learned a lot really quickly but I wouldnt recommend this approach to anyone considering photography as a career.

    For a couple years, it was the roller coaster that I think alot of photographers go through. Where you feel you are making progress and that your body of work is improving and then the opposite side of that; where you feel like your work isn't standing up. The big change for me was when I stopped trying to produce work that I thought was capable of standing up with what other photographers were doing and just did what I wanted. Stripping it all down and focusing on the subject matter.

    Once I stopped measuring myself against other photographers and just did my work, things really started to come along and I felt this really was turning into something for me.

    (article continues below)


    model: Sydney (Sutherland), by Robert Gaudette

    What inspires you to continue shooting and how do you keep motivated when a certain shot or moment just doesn't happen?
    Right from the beginning I had the encouragement and support of people who believed I could do this and that I should pursue it. My wife inspires me constantly (no that's not a suck up lol).

    I've never had anything but postive support from her even during really lean times. Early on I was fortunate enough to have some really great introductions like Chantale Nadeau and her wonderful girls. So I've been really fortunate to work and develop alongside really talented people who give me honest and critical feeback as well as the freedom to play around and try new things out. When you have positive people supporting and guiding you, it's hard not to feel inspired.

    In terms of keeping motivated when things just arent happening in the moment or that you arent getting the material you need to on the day, it can be tough but you just have to find a way to change the energy on set. It's a team effort and part of your job on set is to make sure you get the best out of everyone. It's your job and you always have to find a way to deliver.

    (article continues below)


    model: Natalia (Chantale Nadeau), by Robert Gaudette

    As a photographer (and sometimes art director!), where do you find your own artistic inspiration?
    It really comes from the model or the designs/styling I'm photographing. The rapport you develop with the models and your team really guides where you end up on shoots.

    I saw an interview with Terry Richardson that really impacted me. Terry was discussing how he liked to really limit his expectations or plans before he got on set the day of the shoot and would just aim to capture what was happening.

    You have to balance that and still come in prepared to get what the client has outlined so you can't come in totally blind when you're not Terry Richardson.

    To me it's more about putting your trust in the people you're working with and setting everything up so that you're improving the chances of something happening on set. You're setting a loose framework to guide what happens but I definitely have a less meticulous and more spontaneous approach.

    What do you love most about this career?
    The people. Last week I met a dozen people that I'd never have come into contact with otherwise. We came together collaborated and created something. Thats what its all about it to me.

    What is your favourite shoot to date?
    I don't have a favourite shoot but I do have a favourite "type" of shoot. Sometimes you get a chance to work with someone and strip everything away and put the focus solely on them. You don't get caught up in the wardrobe, the make up, hair or the location.

    You just do something really simple and relaxed. These types of shoots are where I'm only looking for one thing: expression. You don't always get it but when you do capture something really authentic and genuine its beautiful.

    What would you be if you could not be a photographer?
    I couldn't not do this. Horrible grammatically, I know, but that phrasing seems to sum it up perfectly.

    What advice would you give to young people starting out in today's market?
    Is it cheesy to use a quotation by someone else in an interview? If so I'll be cheesy because this says it all:
    "There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there."
      - Indira Gandhi
    Do the work, be humble and pay your dues. All the gear, technical and photoshop expertise will never create SUBSTANCE. Your subject is the substance. What's in your photo matters more than the effect that an hour of dodging and burning will produce. The Mona Lisa is the Mona Lisa because of that smile, whether its oil on panel or water colour on canvas is irrelevant.

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