French photographer Olivier Morisse (@oliviermorisse) tells us how graphic design inspired his quest for images reduced to their bare essence – and what he adds to give them a unique twist.
First, can you give us a description of who you are and what your background in photography is?
I’m a self-taught graphic designer, and for about ten years I've been working as a freelancer. Years ago, I also studied the traditional techniques of photography and film development. I guess that means I’ve been creating images for a long time.
How would you describe your own style?
I’ve been described as a contemplative photographer. I like both nature, the great and wild outdoors, and urban or architectural subjects. Music inspires me a lot and often dictates the mood of my work. I always try to instil space, geometry or poetry into my pictures.
How do you do that?
It’s a challenge every time: I look for ways of making my subjects work within the format of the picture, look for lines to draw angles, for light and shadows to create contrasts… sometimes that results from chance, when the elements of a picture are merciful – or I fix the details during post production.
The word “minimalism” comes to mind when I look at your pictures… would you agree with that term?
Minimalism is kind of a reductive word somehow. Let’s say I like my pictures to be easily readable. Especially when there is a story to discover. But first, I have to satisfy my own eyes and I may be my own worst viewer.
What do you mean?
Well, I can find myself wondering for weeks if a picture is worth posting or not. I have a Dropbox full of images that are almost ready to be published…
What do you look for when taking pictures?
Well, my job influences me a lot. I’m often thinking in terms of lines, contrasts, colors, and textures. Of course geometry is an important part of the composition; the details have to be in the right place. Nature, with its texture and philosophical meaning, is also important to me.
In what way?
I was born in Paris and lived there for the first years of my life. My parents then moved to the countryside and I spent most of my childhood and teenage years away from the city, before finally embracing it again as an adult. I guess my experiences of nature and arts come from that time and I just became a little more aware of myself, as well as more productive and efficient.
I really like the way you’re using colors to achieve contrast and to enhance the compositions. Where does your eye for color come from?
This image is actually the perfect example of how picky I sometimes am. In it you can spot the Rule of Thirds, the parallel lines, the color scheme, the minimalism… These are principles I use when I’m designing a document or a website for my clients.
I admire all photographers who have found a distinct visual language, but I also wonder how you evolve it. What are your plans?
I don’t have any plan. I’m not capable of doing that! When it comes to creativity and productivity, I try to keep as much freedom as possible.
Any words of wisdom for the community?
Be curious, be respectful, be adventurous, explore your surroundings with a new eye each time, think, think twice, try, try again, interact, be critical towards yourself, publish only what you’re satisfied with.