About the book itself. The idea for your book Cadarve Exquis started with just a poem that was created from the themes of the 12:12 Mens' Project. When did you decide to embark on this project, to combine all of your interpretations of these themes into one project? When and how did you become apart of the 12:12 project?
I've been involved with the 12:12 project since the beginning. I sponsored their expo here in Paris at EN FACE, and then started participating in the actual photography side since year two. Well, the second year, even though they had started the 12:12 Mens' Edition, I was asked to be part of the girls project. Long story. Anyway, last year I took part in the Mens' group, and it being my second year, was already very enthusiastic about it all, I decided to make something of a project with all my images. Not just image by image, like the first year. The themes were posted one by one on the private group page and as they came in I started noting them down. By the end of the list it read as a nice little poem, an "Exquist Corps", which is a writing game I used to do with friends way back in collage. I took all that a step further and decided to do stories for each theme, plus make it a book project.
When interpreting these themes, did you have have a model predetermined for each story? Can you describe the process of selecting each model for each theme? Did the model's selected have any input or contribution on how each series turned out?
I really count on my models for input. I love to work as a team. I want for everyone to get something out of what we do. The process is very spontaneous in fact. As I met the models, I proposed different themes to each of them, and depending on their inspiration and mine, we proceeded with the images. As I said before, I like to give the ladies the power! The result, to me, was prefect.
Do you have any specific reason that you shot each series with a different type of Impossible Film? How did you decide which type to use for each story? When did you adopt Impossible Project film as your medium of choice?
I've been involved with the Impossible project since its early beginnings. My old shop En Face was the first to sell there film and products here in Paris. For me it was only natural to work with their emulsions. I sometimes get the chance to try out new films before they hit the market and since they have been very productive, I decided use a different film for almost every story. Their "Duo-Chrome" films were just perfect for the interpretation of certain series, the dominance of certain colors really helped relay the message is was aiming for.
How did you come to work with Les Petites Editions for your first book? And how is it that after 30 years of shooting photography, you have just released your first book?
Clément who runs Les Petites Editions is a good friend and has been a supporter of my images since we meet almost 7 years ago. We've organized several Pola-events together. Who else could I count on for my first book? And yes, my First Book! I do have 30 some odd years of Polaroid history behind me, and as time has gone by, close to thousands of Polaroid images to my name. When it gets to be that much, it really is hard to make a selection for a book. I played with the idea a few times, but how to go about it ? What story to tell ? ... a best of? Who the hell is going to care ? No one knows me and only a select few know my work. Fashion ? art ? portrait ? abstract ? It only became clear to me through the 12:12 Project, that I had to create something new. It all fell into place then. New work that very very few had seen. To make an entrance with something fresh.
Who designed your book? Did you have any influence did you have on the way it was presented in it's square format? Can you describe the creation and layout process?
I am very lucky to have a copy of Bruce Weber's 'O Rio De Janiero book. It has influenced me in so many ways. From the layout, to the story and the colors. It has just such a great vibe to it. I though a lot about this book when putting together Cadarve Exquis. I did 99% of the layout and directed Clément for the 1% that needed his help. I don't want to sound cocky, but this is MY BABY! And you know the saying, "If you want something done right...". Anyway, I wanted a certain rhythm in the layout, and as for the square format, it was just a natural way to go as far as formats.
Do you have a favorite "chapter" of your book? Which one and why? Which one is the most meaningful to you and which was the funnest to shoot? What is the story behind each?
I do have a few favorites. For instance the very first story Loose this Skin. It started this project on the right foot and I only used one pack of film, every shot was a winner. It motivated me and gave me the direction for the rest. I also really dig The Dark Night of My Soul story. It was shot with a duo-chrome film that was never released to the public and I lit the series only using 2 smart phones. Other stories like The Addictions I Get Lost In and Doppelgänger where fun to shoot because I used filters in front of the lens to double up the images and give them a bit of movement and blur. A very tricky soot, but I loved the challenge.
What projects, series, and exhibitions are you planning on working on after the dust settles on Cadarve Exquis? Have you started already?
I have ideas galore and so many stories that I want to illustrate. The one problem is a place to shoot them in. All of the stories in the book where shot at En Face, and alas En Face is no more. I have shot two new ideas in my buildings parking lot, it has interesting light and mood. Unfortunately, it is hard to do work there because, nudes in public... well, you get the picture.
Can you tell us about any other photographers, instant or otherwise, that you admire, respect, or inspire you?
I always recommend young photographers to study up on photo history. For me, it really is the most important part of art school. Once you know what has already been done you can borrow, change around, and twist things to your own perspective. I have many photographers that I admire, respect, and that inspire me. They are all from different schools of photography. To name a few: Lee Friedlander, Carlo Molino, Guy Bourdin, Duane Micheals, Chuck Close, and of course Bruce Weber. Oh and the great and sad to say, late, Ren Hang, a young and inspiring artist that took his life just a few months ago.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Apart from my images, I guess I'd just like to say that the older I get, the wiser my mistakes are.
Thank you for your time Raul, it has been a pleasure talking to you!
The pleasure was all mine Michael!