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Summer 2013: exhibition of fine art photographies in the region of Haute-Saintonge, Charente-Maritime department, France. "Reflections of Haute-Saintonge".

Charente-Maritime landscape of Haute-Saintonge

Sub title of the exhibition: "Lights and colors of Haute-Saintonge"


"Reflections of Haute-Saintonge": the theme of the exhibition

Amar and Isabelle Guillen. Professional free lance photographers.
Isabelle and Amar Guillen, professional freelance photographers.

Summer 2013. We present 40 fine art photographs the region of Haute-Saintonge in the department of Charente-Maritime in France. The exhibition entitled "Reflections of Haute-Saintonge" consists of the most beautiful landscapes of Haute-Saintonge, the most southern part of the department. This exhibition was commissioned by the Community of Communes of Haute-Saintonge. It will be traveling for 5 years in different cities. All the exhibition texts are in French and English.

The subtitle of this exhibition is "Lights and Colors of Haute-Saintonge." We wanted to continue our work in the department began in 2012 with the exhibition "Lights and colors of the coast of Charente-Maritime." All photographs taken for this exhibition sponsored by the Community of Communes of Haute-Saintonge meet our global vision of photography.

This exhibition will be traveling in the department for several years. It will be shown different cities of Haute-Saintonge Monlieu Lagarded, Montguyon, Archiac, etc.

This exhibition shows our expertise in the artistic landscape photography. Eight months of work were required to perform all the photographs.

The story of an artistic and naturalistic project

The exhibition in pictures.
A year to create the 24 fine art photographs with a naturalistic approach.

“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.

To complete the explanation of the project, we have chosen the words of Mister Belot, Senator-Mayor of Jonzac and president of the Community of Communes of Haute-Saintonge, sponsor of the exhibition.

From the banks of the Charente River to the three “Monts” (Montendre, Montguyon and Montlieu), the Haute-Saintonge delivers a countryside generously sculpted by nature and the ancient “savoir-faire” of generations of its inhabitants. The land changes from the limestone and chalk champagne terrain in the north, ideal for the production of cognac; to richer soils suitable for a wide variety of mixed farming at its center, towards the banks of the great Gironde Estuary; to woodlands in gentle sandy folds of land mixed with the flint and clay soil, a feature of the “massif de la Double” to the south. All such richness, Isabelle and Amar Guillen have succeeded in capturing through the lenses of their cameras.

The results are quite simply astounding!

The intuitive choice of location, selection of viewpoint, the play of light between the pastel colours of the first rays of morning sunlight and the magic of twilight, make the photographs contained in this book in to true works of art. Beyond ordinary clichés, dressed in rich colours, and enhanced by the eye of the artists, the Haute-Saintonge is here revealed in all its glory – a privilege usually only granted to its inhabitants or the occasional fortunate hot air balloonist.

Born of this land, it has guided my whole existence. Fiercely attached to the very identity of the Haute-Saintonge, I am happy that my region has aroused Amar and Isabelle with such passion to show it in all its intimacy, almost commemorating its rural idyll. I found myself wholly a part of these natural scenes which are so full of poetry. I wish all the visitors of the exhibition a great journey in our beautiful Haute-Saintonge!

The exhibition in pictures

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge it.

News coverage

News published in the newspaper Haute-Saintonge on August 5th, 2013

News published in the newspaper Sud Ouest on August 27th, 2013