Held every two years, Le Mans Classic offers a great retrospective of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For the third consecutive time, Leica Camera France participated in this great event and had the honor of hosting Laura Kaufmann and her brother Max Kaufmann. Their presence was greatly appreciated by our customers. For the occasion, two Alfa Romeo cars were enthroned at the entrance to our shop. Laurent Nivalle was on hand at the event taking pictures with the Leica T.
Q: Can you provide some background information on Le Mans Classic 2014?
A: Le Mans Classic is an automotive event that takes place every two years on the circuit of Le Mans 24 Hours. It tells the story of the famous race by recreating events by time slices. This is a global event for all car enthusiasts around the world. Many clubs (Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus, etc.) are also present. The show is not just on the track or paddocks, but also car parks, campsites, village. It is everywhere!
Q: What was your involvement at the event?
A: This year I was there in partnership with the organizers of the Le Mans Classic, Peter Auto, for a joint project that we will unveil in the next few months.
Q: You were on hand at the Le Mans Classic 2012 as well. How did this year’s event compare?
A: Le Mans Classic this year seemed more mature and bigger. The organization was more square. This is great on one side, but for a photographer, anarchy can also create very interesting photographic situations.
Q: These images were taken with the Leica T, correct?
A: Yes, I used the Leica T with the Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18–56 mm f/3.5–5.6 ASPH.
Q: What stands out to you about the Leica T from a technical standpoint?
A: The Leica T has the image quality and truly exceptional rendering compared to my conventional equipment and other pro or semi-pro boxes. Raw DNG output allows me to work in the same way with my images as usual.
Q: Your portfolio includes both black-and-white images and color images. Do you prefer B&W or color? Or does it depend on the image?
A: Black-and-white is an institution by itself and talks to everyone. It requires as much, if not more, work than color to find the right tone and a personal record, if it is still possible to find one. They will always be present in my work and coexist with color photos in my series.
The choice to treat a photo in color or black-and-white is very strange because there is no logic. It is above all a question of feeling. You feel this photo in black-and-white and another color.
Q: All of the images in this series have a vintage effect. How did you achieve this look?
A: I will not talk about vintage effect but rather cinematic mode or calibration. My inspiration colors come from these two worlds. There are commercial filters to work the colors in Photoshop but I find those rude and impersonal. Over the years I have developed my own approach using the standard tools of Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture. So I can have a hand in any aspect of my photo without being led by a software that decides for me.
Q: How did you get started in automobile photography and what attracted you to the genre?
A: The automotive world came to me completely by accident. In 2000, after studying art at the École Boulle and getting a master’s degree in product design, I set out to integrate a design agency in Paris. Having some free time before I started at this agency, Citroën asked me to work a few months in the service of colors and materials design. I was designer for colors and materials for five years. This is where I realized the importance and impact of color harmonies and its complementarity to a volume or a graphic. It has completely changed my perception of colors.
After my time as a stylist, I started my career as an art director in communication for Citroën design, and it was not until early 2006 that I bought a digital camera. And working in the automobile industry, obviously I took to this subject area. The product itself is for me an accessory that exists with the presence of humans.
Q: What kind of knowledge must a photographer possess in order to photograph cars and racing events?
A: A car is first volume, and then style lines and graphics. To read these elements is the basis to properly shoot a car. There are no rules, it is mostly a specific identity of each car felt, take the time to understand what the designer wanted to convey.
Q: What do you find appealing about automobile photography?
A: Shooting one car can be boring. When you add a person, it is immediately more interesting. The car comes to life and something happens. If you have the right person, the right accessories and styling, and the right place, then you will have a great story.
Q: Besides shooting automobiles, do your photos fall in any other genre (ex. fashion, documentary)?
A: I do not consider myself a car photographer or portrait or fashion photographer. The photo is a means of expression and not an end in a field. Boredom comes quickly if I shoot the same area for too long. So I like to focus my eyes and my style on all the topics I can cross. I think I’m just a photographer when I shoot, as I am a director when I make a film or art director when I use different mediums for a brand or a global project.
I can not do my job if I do not know what fits in the photograph in question, why and how it is important. It must come from my role as art director, this need to have a global vision.
Q: Can you describe your photographic approach?
A: My approach to photography is a bit all over the place if I try to analyze it. I want both spontaneity and the precision that makes a film made but I work my natural color, timelessness but with a bias, a fashion mind but the majority can get there recognize.
Thank you for your time, Laurent!
– Leica Internet Team
Connect with Laurent on Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook.