Without any particular destination in mind, Nathanaël Fournier wanders the streets of Paris, Toulouse, and his home town of Lille with his M6. The outcome is Everyday Life’s Value, a series both amusing and sensitive. It speaks of the delightful synchronicities and small miracles of daily life.
I got the idea for the title from the quote you see in the Camus, Toulouse photo: it says, “Donnons de la valeur au quotidien”, which means, “Let’s give value to the mundane”. The project came to an abrupt halt when I fell asleep on the train to Perpignan. I was on my way to the VisaOff Photo Festival, where some of my pictures were to be exhibited. When I woke up my things had been stolen: money, ID, backpack, my M6 and some of my recently exposed films! I had left a folder with my earlier films stored at a friend’s house in southern France. After I’d been robbed, I went to Corsica where I lived in a hut and I didn’t take a single photo for months.
Why do you photograph in black and white?
In November 2016, I attended a master class with Harry Gruyaert during the Brussels Street Photo Festival. I have to admit that I’m pretty indifferent to colour. When I load a colour film into my camera, I photograph as though it were black and white. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
What interests you about street photography?
A few years ago I worked as a newspaper boy, which meant long walks and I took my camera. On one of those days I took a few dozen pictures before realising that I hadn’t loaded any film into the camera. I had to laugh, as I realised that my interest in photography was very egoistic: I just like going on a nice walk and having a bit of fun taking pictures. It’s only when I’m editing that I consider the purpose and use of my work: do the pictures reveal the world I live in? Are they interesting for the people I’ve photographed, and also for the viewer? And, most importantly, are the pictures any good?
Many of your pictures reveal a fine sense of humour and a good feeling for the right moment – how would you describe your approach?
When I take pictures, I try not to think too much. I’m a good photographer when I let things happen. Sometimes I discover a good motive, but don’t end up photographing it because I think about it, about what a lovely picture it would be. Sometimes I capture a good moment because I’m in the right place at the right time. That’s what happened with the Camus photo. My work is mainly about wandering around and getting lost.
Do you have a photographic motto, or particular photography idols?
There’s a motto I learnt from a friend that I always followed as a graffiti artist: “Make it simple and efficient”. Now I try to transfer that motto to my photography. Of course, that doesn’t mean that things that look simple were easy to realise! You only need look at the work of photographers I admire deeply, such as Edouard Boubat, Elliot Erwitt, Willy Ronis, Saul Leiter and Marc Riboud. I also saw the incredible street pictures taken by Graciela Iturbide for the first time recently.
What equipment did you use to work on Everyday Life’s Value?
The series was taken with my M6 and a Summicron 50mm f:/2. I photographed with Ilford HP5 400 and FP4 125 film. The camera I bought used at the Beaumarchais Leica Store in Paris and it works perfectly!
Born in northern France in 1982, Nathanaël Fournier got into photography in 2003 when he borrowed a point-and-shoot camera from his girlfriend to document the graffiti art in his home town of Lille. Later on he attended St Lukas Art School in Tournai (Belgium) for a few months. In 2008 he saved up money to buy his first Leica: an M6 with a 50mm Summicron lens. Since then he has been photographing with whatever film he can afford (or steal): KodakGold, FujiSuperia and every black and white film available. Fournier lives in Creuse, France.
To see more of Fournier’s photography you can visit his website.