French Fred is one, if not the one, of my favorite skateboard photographer and videographer. I’ve sent him an email a year ago to get his permission to use his pictures and never got an answer until last wednesday! It paid off to wait and get this short Q&A.
How long have you been shooting videos ? Photograph ?
Video since 1993. Photography came later, around 2001.
Could you explain why you started video before photography. At that time, I guess, cameras were expensive and choices limited ?
The thing is that I was totally crazy about skate videos ! I was waiting for every single new video like a kid. It meant so much to me. I had everything in VHS, made copies, transcoding from PAL to Secam… The first time I saw a video, you cannot imagine the effect it had on me. It was the H-Street – Shackle Me Not, in 1991 I believe, or maybe 1990 when I started.
Magazines were cool but not as rad as videos. Movies brought the U.S. live, or actually with quite a delay ! You had to be patient as nothing was instantaneous… but I was so excited anyway !!!
Have you heard about Henri Cartier-Bresson? It is striking how the geometry, the structure, the B&W reminds me of his work (skateboarding added)…
Of course! His idea of « The Tipping Point » (l’instant décisif) is definitely adapted to skateboarding. I really like photographers from his generation, as well as the photo-journalists from the 60’s and 70’s.
When I started photography, I didn’t know anything about it. It’s when I started to dig deeper that I discovered amazing photographers and pictures. Their style talked to me and I realized my work was pretty similar : old school black & white pictures, Leica generation… Though, I’ve never owned a Leica.
Did you study photography ?
No ! I am self taught. I learnt on the spot. I think it is the best way to learn and improve. But I am sure I fall short when it comes to technical stuff. I believe that photography is not about gear or technical aspects. I have been shooting for more than 10 years with a good old Nikon FM2. My first one died two years ago, I had to get a new one. It perfectly fits my needs !
Do you use any digital cameras ?
A few. It is amazing what we see nowadays and the cameras available. But still it is the result that counts.
What are your plans for now ?
I don’t know yet, I am thinking about it. Live life slowly… Life goes too fast. It is nuts, we don’t have time for anything today. I want to change that.
Thanks to Fred for his time, his great work and his pictures !