"That’s the beauty of street photography. We will never know the real story so we can imagine anything we want."
Since 1998, Valérie Jardin helps clients find their creative vision through the photographic arts. Valérie is a visual storyteller recognized internationally for her street photography. She leads workshops worldwide, writes books, produces a weekly podcast, and is an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA.
THEY: After exploring your work, We noticed that you have a very special relationship with light. What is something about light that captivates you?
VJ: As a photographer I am necessarily a light seeker. Most days when I head out with my camera I let the light guide me. I will choose the side of the street to walk on depending on the light. I will look for specific types of subjects according to the light I have to work with. I’m a strong believer that there is no bad light in photography. There is easy light and there is difficult light. If we only shot during the early morning hours and evening hours, we would only shoot in easy light and it would be boring.
What drove your interest in examining humankind through visual storytelling?
VJ: I love people and I am very curious by nature. I like to imagine the life of strangers. I tell a story by capturing moments of everyday life in a still photograph but I also leave room for the imagination. That’s the beauty of street photography. We will never know the real story so we can imagine anything we want. The more time I spend on the streets in various cities around the world, the better I am at anticipating what people are going to do. This ability to anticipate is what allows the street photographer to work very quickly and capture the decisive moment.
THEY: With a big portion of your work being in black & white, what aspects made you deviate from color and approach shadow and light more?
VJ: I do shoot in color as well and I let the subject dictate the choice. If the color is part of the story there would be no reason to shoot in black-and-white. There are times when the color is so distracting that it takes the spotlight away from the subject and the photograph will be stronger in black-and-white. I make that decision before I press the shutter. I think it’s an important part of the creative process.
THEY: While on many of your photography trips, what was one moment / subject that stuck with you the most?
VJ: On every trip there is usually one photograph that stands out. It’s usually linked to the emotion in the scene. But it’s also very personal and sometime it has to do with the mood I was in when I pressed the shutter. It’s a combination of so many things. So my favorite photographs are not necessarily the ones that get the most ‘likes’ on social media either. And that doesn’t matter.
THEY: Some may say that you are a street and travel photographer, but your subjects and photography speak so much more than that label. How do you go about introducing your art to different communities?
VJ: I’m a visual storyteller. Someday maybe my photographs will help people understand the way we lived in our time in history. That is one reason why it is so important to do it respectfully and candidly without ever staging or posing people. The authenticity is a really big part of what I do.
THEY: How do you choose your subjects?
VJ: I am very discerning. If I find a really great backdrop or beautiful light I will wait until the right subject enters my frame. It’s important to envision what would make the strongest possible photograph. I prefer not to take any picture than settle for a mediocre subject. It also has to be very authentic to the location where I am. I don’t find any interest in photographing a typical tourist if I’m in Rome or Paris. I want to photograph locals., home spaces, nature, and object design.