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Scouting for indoor locations…

The Nightmare!

It is one of the things I love... and hate!

Backgrounds are an important part of my photography. Having the manhattan bridge as a backdrop, playing with the lines of a staircase or a building, and seeking symmetry is, amongst other elements, a common thing in my photography. This is why I always lookout for new places for my shoots, trying not to use the same location twice and seek unusual ones or find a way to break the dullness of a commonplace.

Martina Heimann - New York

Nhật-Nam Lê - Strasbourg

Shakirudeen Adewale Alade - London

Finding the place is a thing, shooting there is another. For outdoor locations, the task is fairly simple, shooting indoors is another story. Most of the time you will need a permit to access the location. The other bad news is that some of these places are available for photographers... but you have to rent them. You can somehow negotiate according to the type of work you will do there but most of the time, rates are already well-defined for a variety of situations, and they're not cheap.

I'm not a studio guy, I usually shoot outside because of the pleasure of constantly changing the environment I work in. So I tend to have the same approach when I shoot inside.

One solution to make an indoor shoot on a budget for most of us is to do it illegally. Jump off fences, avoid security or cops, get in with minimal gear and shoot as fast as you can. Personally, I cannot get anything done properly in these conditions. Will a brand finance and follow you in these conditions? I doubt... And don't even think trying to hide this from them.

I prefer the official way. If I cannot get my permits, It's simply not a place for me... at least for now. So I prefer to move on. I've worked in other countries and It's funny to see how it can work out fast in some of them, and be very slow in others!

In Stuttgart, I got access to the Stadtbibliothek the week I arrived in town. In Strasbourg, it took almost a year to set up the photoshoot inside the National and university library, and in Montreal I got permits to shoot inside the world trade center within 2 weeks.

Nicole Smith - Centre du commerce mondial (Montréal)

You often got to do with what they can offer you. I finally had access to the Institut du monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris, a place I wanted to work in for months. When I finally got feedback, I had restricted access to the building. I was a bit disappointed at first but I quickly changed my mood when I knew I was going to work with 2 incredible artists there.

After almost 2 years of working on the series “InMotion” I can approximately say that I got rejected 50% of the time. And for the ones who accepted to meet me or simply answered my emails, half of them proposed me crazy renting rates.

It's time-consuming, but it is a very important element of my photography. Dozens of emails, and phone calls, to finally meet the people in charge, visit the location and then match everybody's planning to settle a proper time slot for the shoot. But I guess I can cope with the low rate of success because it's worth it. Of course, your chance of having access to your dream place will be greater if you shoot “Time for print” (TFP) and agree to not use the pictures commercially. But hey, we're talking business here. You cannot make a living out of TFP shoots.

Maybe one day I will be famous enough to make international brands finance all my shoots and when this day will come the obtention of adequate authorization will only be a matter of cash. Until this day comes, here are a few pictures of the IMA session, featuring Lyria Van Moer and Valentine Nata Ramos. I hope I will get back there someday with a “Carte blanche”.


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