June 4-18 2012 : photo exhibition in Royan, France. Gallery of Cours de l'Europe.
Lights and colors of the coast of Charente Maritime: the theme of the exhibition
Our exhibition in Royan in the Gallery of the "Cours de l'Europe" consists of 20 photographs. Royan is a seaside town located in the department of Charente Maritime in France. The exhibition theme is "Lights and colors of the coast of Charente Maritime." The subtitle of the exhibition is "Rediscover the hidden treasures of the coast of Charente Maritimes, dressed with lights and unique colors."
Two years of work were needed to achieve the 40 photos of our latest book self published. We extracted 20 images for this exhibition. All photographs available in a 60 by 90 centimeters are glued against Dibon (aluminum plates reinforced by a sheet of plexiglass). The mayor of Royan has made available the magnificent hall of "Cours de l' Europe" for two weeks.
This exceptional room was built in the 1950s in the same spirit as the famous "Notre Dame de Royan". It was built of concrete with a central tower-shaped mushroom that supports the whole building. It is a round building with large windows. The light that floods the room throughout the day is perfectly suited to the contemplation of our photographs. Every day, the gallery was opened to the public from 11AM to 13PM and then 15-19PM. We also had two night until 9PM. The daily average of visits was about thirty people. The purpose of this exhibition was not only make us better known in the region but also to sell photographs and books.
Our radio interview for "Radio Demoiselle".(click the play button to start to listen) :
Our landscape photographic vision
First element of our vision: lights and colors
The photographs presented in this exhibition illustrate our vision of landscape photography vision. The first two elements of our photographs are the lights and colors. We always try to place the sun in our photos. Photographers often use the sun by placing it in the back to use it as a big strobe. Our practice of underwater photography has taught us to better control the sun. Indeed, in the background of underwater pictures, photographers use the sun to highlight the landscape. We adopted this technique. In order not to create overexposed areas that burn our photos, we use special filters and techniques for shooting the sun. These technics make possible the rays of light quite visible.
As we like saturated colors, we always choose scenes with colorful subjects. We also use filters to saturate some colors. We like to alternate between warm and cool tones. In the book and the exhibition, we made a mix with cold and warm tone images.
Second element of our vision: structures and textures.
The subjects we photograph are saturated with colors and dressed with lights. But we like to add a touch of structures and textures in some parts. These parts can be either in the sky like clouds or human as architectural buildings, or mudflats or soil. It is often difficult to show textures with a camera even if we use long exposures. They are naturally present in our photos but are not pronounced. We just revive them. In that search to enhance the structures and textures, we like to use the reflection of light on the water surface to create very high contrast areas.
Third element of our vision: transcend the subject with lights and colors
To highlight the subjects we photograph, we use the lights as accessories to sublimate them. The subject is transcend by lights and colors.
Fourth element of our vision: always show special atmosphere
Our main concern is always to be aware of the atmosphre of a particular location by highlighting it with lights and colors. We love taking photos of soft and quiet atmosphere bathed in a veiled light. We always try to show the tranquility of a place.
The story of an improbable project
Many years have passed since our wedding Friday, May 13, 1988 in Royan in the department of Charente Maritime. We are not superstitious, but ultimately, this Friday 13 brought us happiness in the realization of our dreams and our projects. Since then we have traveled in many parts of the world. We have taken thousands of underwater and land photographs. We met many cultures. We saw of lot of different landscapes, all more interesting one than the other. We dived into extraordinary places. We went away to look for what we had in our backyard.
The winter of 2009, visiting the region for a story on oyster farming in Marennes Oléron, we were excited about the lights shining in the region. Evening after evening, looking at our photos we thought the same thing: an artistic photographic subject on the coast of Charente Maritime was possible. Initially, our ambitions were very measured. We had left France for several years and come back regularly to achieve the Charente Maritime shots would be difficult, even if our parents live in Saint Georges de Didonne, a small town near Royan.
Indeed, to take pictures dedicated to nature, we need a lot of time. The place we choose is important in our photos, it should be descriptive for those who look the picture but more importantly we need perfect lights and colors to adorn the scene elements. We find these lights and the colors very often in the morning and evening. They are the best times of the day for more tones of beautiful contrasts.
The seasons also play an important role. We love the spring, autumn and winter because the sun is not to high in the sky. Summer is a difficult season because the lights are very hard and produce less contrast. We began to pace the coast of the Charente Maritime department. We walked all the paths we knew since our marriage in 1988. We went all over the places again as we loved both natural and manmade.
This winter 2009, the photographic conditions were exceptional. We quickly accumulated interesting pictures worthy of being shown. Like any art project, we needed a theme. It came out by itself first after th ten first photos featured "the coast of Charente Maritime '!. As we are passionate about the lights and colors, so we decided to call it "Lights and colors of the coast of Charente Maritime." The following spring, the weather continued to be lenient. So we went to the whole coast from the island of Ré until Mortagne sur Gironde. We went to see the places very well known as Talmont with its Church of St. Radegund. It did not matter to us if the site had been photographed thousands of times. We wanted to bring our personal touch.
After several weeks of research, hundreds of kilometers, of early morning standing four hours to make sure we have the magical fifteen minutes, we had collected enough photographs to create a true art project. It was at this precise moment that we decided to organize an exhibition and write a book to share with the largest possible number of people the treasures of this region. It was also at this time that we met Bernard Vassel, a local poet! We talked of our pictures, and he, on his writing. We started a collaboration. We appreciated his poems and his world very bare. We found many points of resemblance between his work and ours.
We offered him to write poems for each photograph. Once the project began, we still have eighteen months of work to capture the lights and colors that would dress the chosen places. We came back three times in Charente Maritime. During these trips, we have refined our approach. We realized that the coast of Charente Maritime was a complex world as it is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean and south by the Gironde estuary. Large sandy beaches north and south a muddy lagoon.
This duality makes this coast a unique world. We were also overwhelmed by human creations like lighthouses, bridges, churches. Every story for each image is engraved in our memory. We could describe all our emotions, surprises experienced during this project. But the great lesson of this work that lasted three years is that we must learn to look what we have at home. The real treasures are very close and can be reached in few steps.
The exhibition in pictures
Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.
They are talking about us
Article published in the weekly newspaper "Le littoral"
Article published in the daily newspaper "Sud ouest"
Article published in the web magazine "Royan-Actu"
Isabelle and Amar Guillen are two photographers specializing in underwater, wildlife, and landscape photography. In 1987, their photographic adventure began while they both prepared for a degree in computer engineering. The visual beauty offered by the sumptuous surrounding landscapes and the wildlife held within began (and continues) to be their source of inspiration. This has led them to entirely devote themselves to a professional photographic career, allowing them to share their contemplative and artistic interpretation of nature. For the last fifteen years, they have photographed both the animals and their terrestrial and underwater natural landscapes. Their photographic scenes are animated by the infinite mysteries hidden in nature.
Through their photographic gaze of nature, they strive to highlight the importance of its conservation. Isabelle and Amar live and exhibit between France and the United States, both of which supply wildlife, landscapes, and cultures, providing inspiration for the Guillen's work. Isabelle and Amar have published several books including "Lights and Colors of the Charente-Maritime Coast", "Reflections of Haute-Saintonge", and "The Secrets of Underwater Photography ".