The book "Reflections of Haute-Saintonge"
"In the end, we discover that the extraordinary is always found in the ordinary and simple ways of every day people.” This quote taken from the book, The Pilgrimage, by Paolo Coelho, aptly sums up the story behind our project of the Haute-Saintonge.
In 2012 we had completed our first photographic portfolio of the Charente-Maritime, entitled, The Hidden Treasures Along the Coast of the Charente-Maritime. It consisted of 20 photographs, and we thought that the town of Jonzac was the ideal location from which to exhibit them.
“In the end, we discover that the extraordinary is always found in the ordinary and simple ways of every day people.” This quote taken from the book, The Pilgrimage, by Paolo Coelho, aptly sums up the story behind our project of the Haute-Saintonge.
In 2012 we had completed our first photographic portfolio of the Charente-Maritime, entitled, The Hidden Treasures Along the Coast of the Charente-Maritime. It consisted of 20 photographs, and we thought that the town of Jonzac was the ideal location from which to exhibit them. We approached Jonzac's mayor, Claude Belot, who readily agreed. Our exhibition took place at “Les Antilles”, in Jonzac, following which Mr Belot wondered if we could take more photos of the Haute-Saintonge, bringing its countryside to life with rich colours and light, in a way he felt confident we were well qualified to do. It seemed then that the extraordinary had crossed our ordinary path.
Mr Belot asked us to create an exhibition of 40 photographs and incorporate them into a published book increasing to 60 pictures. We suggested the theme be based on the discovery of the hidden treasures of the Haute-Saintonge. He agreed, but added: “I am very demanding. I only want the best.” From these remarks the tempo was set and we began taking photos the following day. He had set us a real challenge and we only had seven months to complete it.
In each photo we employed as much of our technical expertise as possible to obtain the ultimate in lighting and colour effects – pushing ourselves to the limit, always on the look-out for the unusual. In trying to capture what may have been in the minds of the inhabitants and convey the emotion of the scene, we often ventured out to the same spot many times on the same day, in order to seek out an element of surprise and look for possible hidden treasures in the vicinity.
Subsequently, we have often been astounded by the sheer variety and richness of the landscape of the region, as it stretches from north to south: forests, fields, rivers, Estuary… We could never be the same again. More than once our hearts stopped, when back at the studio we reviewed our photographs. The beauty of the entire experience could be remembered along with the accompanying emotions. The Haute-Saintonge became a special place for us – a place out of time, still to be discovered. We knew then that we were on the right track.
Each photograph is a story in itself and all our energy, expertise and joy has been translated to these pictures in our discovery of one of the most beautiful regions we have ever visited.
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Our interview on the French radio "Frequence Terre". (click the play icon to start) :
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 ".