A Sydney based photographer with 20 years of experience , Florent Vidal follows the principal of photo journalism closely, often producing wedding photographs that are not only beautiful, but above all, meaningful. Imagining taking a look at your photos years from now and be reminded of an emotion or a fleeting moment that was once forgotten. Envisioning wedding photography as a mixture of photojournalism and artistic portraits, Florent takes pride in creating wedding images that are natural, timeless and unique. Below, we catch up with him to enquire more about his work and what are his aims forward.
Q: What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time, for a living?
A: I have not done anything else but photography! It started when I was 14 years old and discovered the art of photography. By the time I was 16, I knew that this is what I wanted to do, so I applied to get into one of the best photography schools in Europe. They only had vacancy for 30 students and I was offered a place. I graduated when I was 20 with a Baccalaureate in Photography. During this time, I also moved to Paris to start working as a freelance photographer for Sygma Press Agency to do travel reportage where I photographed about 40 European cities.
One day an editor of a travel magazine asked me if I could photograph her wedding the same way I photographed the people in my travel photos: very photojournalistic and ‘in the moment’ photos. This experience completely opened my eyes and changed the way I perceived wedding photos: wedding photos can be ‘real’ and at the same time, creative. It’s being able to tell a story with my photographs, and frame it with my creative interpretation.
When I wasn’t travelling I worked as a head photographer for Paris’s most prestigious wedding studio. After 5 years of documenting love stories in France and Europe, it was also love that brought me to Australia! I met an Aussie girl and I followed her to the other side of the world! 12 years later, I am living in, and loving this beautiful country with my wife and two daughters, and still doing what I enjoy to do.
Q: Who influenced you the most? Is there any other photographer that you consider as a kind of idol?
A: I love pure photojournalism and from the 20th century I admire the works of Raymond Depardon and Sebastião Salgado. Their works are timeless and never fails to evoke something from me. One of my biggest moments as photographer was meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson! I actually printed some of his works when I was working with his printer in Paris, and I was commissioned to photograph his drawings. Living in Paris at the time, I had been surrounded with the arts, and I feel very fortunate to have seen that period in photography before digital took over.
Q: What is your preferred style of Photography? Is it Traditional, Artistic, Natural, Photojournalism, Fine Art, Illustrative etc.? How would you describe your working style? Can you show us a sample picture?
A: Definitely photojournalism, although I have to say that it is not a ‘style’, but an approach. 90% of the wedding photos I do is documenting what happens on the wedding day. I believe that the best photos happen when the couples are living in the moment. Photojournalism is a bit like sport: you have to create, compose and capture before the person is aware of your presence.
Couples often tell me that they are are surprised to see themselves in some photos, because they weren’t aware of my existence during their most private moments. And those photos, are often their favourite. I try to be as ‘invisible’ as possible, so my clients don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated. My approach is to capture every candid moment to not detract from the magic of the occasion. This ensures the photographs capture the real essence of the event, and importantly, the couple experience their wedding day as naturally as possible.
Q: We would love to see your most favorite picture. Among your works, which one is your most favorite and Why?
A: It’s impossible to pick just one, but I can tell you that my favourite photos are those that transport us to the moment when the photograph was taken. Those that make us feel long after they were taken. Those that make us wonder what the subject was feeling and thinking. Those ones that force us to see the story behind the photograph. And I do love black and white photographs! They are timeless and they have magical quality that cannot be fully explained with words.
Q: How do you see yourself in the next 5 years or so?
A: Wow! My first thought was I don’t want my girls to grow up too quickly! Personally, just enjoying time with family and making happy memories. Life is about that! Professionally, I want to keep challenging myself in the art of photography. I want to keep telling stories with my photographs and I hope that future brides and grooms will keep appreciating what I do.
Q: What advice can you give to photographers who are just starting their career especially in the wedding industry?
A: Learn the basics of photography and don’t just rely on software to better your photographs. I would go as far as telling them to buy a film camera and understand how to work with light.
Photography is an art, and you have to keep improving your craft. Many are enticed to be a wedding photographer because they think it’s an easy job. Until you do it and you understand why those who are truly passionate and serious about photography, are the ones that endure.
Florent Vidal is always open to travel for your wedding. His love of travel and adventure was what brought him to Australia in the first place. After a few commissions to photograph this exotic continent, Florent was in love with Australia and decided to stay. That was over ten years ago. Today, Florent Vidal is considered as one of Australia’s most respected wedding photographers. With two studios in New South Wales: Sydney CBD and Port Stephens, Florent spends most of his time photographing weddings around Australia.