We recently got in touch with French photographer Bruno Fontana. This talented urban photographer has done a superb job in translating aspects of our urban environment into art. With the repetition of facades he creates seamless patterns which he titled ‘The Urban Wallpaper series’. This series was awarded the SFR Young Talents awards in 2013.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for photography?
I’m a self-taught photographer who feeds on his own artistic concerns when looking at the world around me. It took a lot of time but I finally found my own sensitivity. I was interested in architecture and the way it is represented from quite early on, both on the urban and landscaped plan, and I recently got more interested in components related to architectural components related to its appropriation and modifications.
You’ve photographed lot’s of façades of buildings, why did you choose this subject?
I chose to photograph these façades of buildings because they reveal the structures which are part of our landscape with a certain aesthetic and raise the question of heritage. They also speak of today: Of living conditions that can be stifling, of conventions that swamp the functional element in its single, endlessly repeated form. A form of surface and appearances behind which people, families and our contemporaries live.
Do you have a favourite building to photograph (or one that has extremely impressed you?)
I have no favourite building to photograph, but for this series I was very interested in buildings built in the 60’s and 70’s. Those buildings whose architecture reminded me of the wallpapers from that era.
What is the best city or country to photograph your subject?
This series was entirely shot in France, but often I think of the following question: “Does photography has to open us up to the universe in which we have no acces? Or should we learn to see what is so close to us that we don’t see it anymore?”.
What are your goals with your photography?
My goal is to ask me what constitutes our environment today and show the landscapes we do not see any more because they are our everyday but say a lot about how the human took over the territory.
What kind of shooting set-up do you use (camera, lens, etc).
I use a full frame camera with a specific lenses (tilt shift) for the photography of architecture.
How long does it take you to setup your camera and get everything right? I can imagine the large format camera can be a bit of a pain.
Working with a tripod needs some patience, but I mainly work slow to think about the subject and understand the composition. Each photograph must be a personal investment and a commitment. It might seem painstakingly slow, but for me it’s a necessity and a pleasure!
Did you ever experience any danger or exciting adventures while shooting?
During a shooting of a derelict building, I was shouted at by people who lived their illegally and where doing some shady business. They immediately took me for a police officer and did not really understand my photographic approach.
If you had al the time and money in the world, what project would you start?
If I had money I would go and discover the landscapes of Europe in order to ask myself how each country has built up its territory, taking into account their geological, historical and political issues. In this vast project, I’d be wondering about the development of territory and their heritage. I would make an extensive inventory of the European landscape in order to keep track of the changes and make a working memory of the territory.