The Image: Pascal Amoyel, "Ismaël, Pointe du Raz"

© Pascal Amoyel, Ismaël, Pointe du Raz, France, 2013

This picture was made in early August 2013, using a view camera. It was taken at the extreme western edge of France, in a place called Pointe du Raz located in Brittany, a region made of long coastlines and vast spaces. I've been working there for a few weeks this summer, as I was looking for places that combine signs of human habitation with the vividness of nature.

France is usually pictured as an old sleepy country, filled with villages and picturesque buildings, where nature has been completely domesticated, but fortunately that is only partly true. Taking pictures for Levés d'Ouest, a new and on-going series that focuses on the relationship between French people and their territory, I resolutely wanted to suck this stereotype out and searched for a different way of depicting people within the landscape, where nature and bodies would look wild in some way.

This photograph was taken at dusk, which is the moment I usually prefer for portraits, for its light is soft and because it’s a time when the day and the journey come to an end or a pause ; then arrives the night, and a slight shift to unfamiliar. I drive quite a bit during the day in order to locate a place where it might be interesting to work around sunset; then I walk there a lot, trying to be lucky.

I used to take portraits standing closer from people, but now I tend to widen the framing to depict the space surrounding them, the places they cross. I'm interested in the places where people live and what they do there. That’s the reason why Levés d’Ouest shows images of activities intertwined with photographs of people at rest. And I’m looking for an unstable balance between activity and rest in these portraits. I took a couple of pictures of this guy who was longboarding down the road. Then, leaving the tripod at the same spot, I asked him for a portrait and took a couple of images more. There’s a bit of direction in it.

Levés d’Ouest shows some echoes with my previous work L'aphélie (Aphelion, 2012), including the fact that people appear on different kind of vessels. Maybe houses are some kind of vessel too, spread over vast landscapes, where people are passing and passengers.

- Pascal Amoyel