“Strangers lost in the crowd” – Grenoble Life meets Remi Oudinot

Visuel de l’affiche de l’exposition « Mes semblables » © R. Oudinot 2010

Grenoble Life talked to photographer Remi Oudinot ahead of his exhibition Mes Semblables, which runs at Librairie Arthaud throughout October.

Grenoble Life: Can you explain the title of your exhibition, Mes Semblables?

Remi Oudinot : The title Mes Semblables came to my mind when trying to explain what motivates my photography practice: when and why do I trigger my camera shutter?

I do mostly street photography. And when out for “shooting”, I am on my own, a stranger in the crowd. This is especially true when I’m travelling abroad for professional or personal matters. I don’t look specifically for funny or odd situations, à la Doisneau, but rather I stop at simple human beings who, just like me, seem to be “strangers lost in the crowd”. They might be “locals”, but the expression I see on their face, the feelings their attitude conveys, separate them from the flow. 

I see them, and instantly want to capture the instant with the right angle, frame, light and colors (ok, I also do a bit of black & white !). We are alike, they are mes semblables

GL: Do you find many of your “semblables” in Grenoble?

Remi : I love Grenoble and its crowd. But Grenoble is not the best place for that. I believe that I need to feel like a stranger to identify my “subjects”, for the above mentioned reasons. Each time I’ve tried in Grenoble, I tend to capture anecdotes with little to no emotions. These pics are not “keepers” for me. Travelling is an easier (lazy?) way to please my retina.

GL: Many of your photos are the result of your travels: where have you been?

Remi : Mostly in the US. Mostly west coast, but I always try to find a plane stop to spend a couple days in New York on my way back.

I’ve been to Singapore too but wish I could experience Asia a bit deeper. I need to go to Japan!

Then Europe works for me as well, from Denmark to Turkey. A few hundreds kms away from Grenoble works too (I love the old downtown districts of Nice or Turin)

GL: Tell us about how you became interested in photography.

Remi : A 1983 Kodak Instamatic 77X: that was my birthday present when I turned nine. It produced little squared shots, very Polaroid-like. 

I’ve always been of the creative type, and I guess I’ve found photography to suit my creative aspirations. Like drawing, only easier and faster? Just kidding! But from then, I’ve never stopped shooting and really got serious about it seven or eight years ago, with the rise of affordable digital SLRs, matching my geeky addictions. Shooting, trying, improving, editing and shooting again. That really helped me a lot to find my very own way. Oddly enough, I’m now shooting film again, with a 1980-era Yashica Mat, and it brings additional fun that again boosts my appetite for image-making.

GL: What other exhibitions have you been involved in?

Remi : I exhibited a New York series last year at Gaia Store, a very nice travel-oriented bookstore in Grenoble. Then, I’ve been selected by the Maison de la Photographie et de l’Image, with a series on Le Voyage which was on display at the Ancien Musée de Peintures, place de Verdun. Lastly, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce exhibited some of my latest photos, as one of the “winning artists” for the European contest States of Creation.

The October expo at Librairie Arthaud will be my first, true, full-scale “solo” exhibition.

By the way, there’s a Facebook page for people willing to follow my updates. 

GL: What other galleries and artists in Grenoble can you recommend to our readers?

Remi : I like the work of Jean-Pierre Angei, Dominique Combarnous, Bruno Moyen and many other talented local professional or amateur photographers. There are not so many official places where photography can be enjoyed but I know that La Maison de la Photographie et de l’Image is struggling to make Grenoble a better place for that. For now, scrutinizing Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and the like is a good way to keep an eye on our local ecosystem of image makers.

GL: Where are you travelling next?

Remi : I’m just back from Amsterdam, thinking about Madagascar. But that might not happen in the next few weeks. I really need to set up a PayPal account to find sponsors !

GL: What projects for exhibitions and collaborations do you have for the future?

Remi : I will first focus on the upcoming expo. I’m just done with the editing and hope your readers will enjoy what I’m sharing. If they do, I’ll start to think about what’s next.