Emmanuel Coupe

Emmanuel Coupe

Nationality: France
 

Artist's Statement:

I view photography as a reflector of the mind.

I want my photography to come out of silence and quietness.

Being connected to wild nature from an early age, I knew this had always been the environment I could find my bearings and the sort of freedom that I appreciated. Photography paired with that fitting environment simply gave me a needed abstraction.

My work however, really aims back at the big absentees from my photographs, humans. I use nature as decoy to interpret human ideas and emotions. It is about a circle of connections, sharing and engaging a different kind of conversation – abstract, intuitive and insightful. Photography serves me as a movement that begins with reality and ends with interpretation. Interpretation is central to my works and post-processing is an integral part of my photography. I spend a good amount of time considering the tonal articulation of projects and photographs to finalize my works. I handle capture and interpretation as a continuity of the very same creative process.

I have been asked several times about the influences in my work and think that connection is the key that unlocks the door. It also suggests lineage and continuity, which can be found at the core of my artistic approach. Every experience can translate into my work and I allow many artists to pour through into my own creations. I view this as part of an ongoing spinning of the wheel; receive and give and so on. In the end, of course, art, psychology, politics and so on crawl their way into my works. A second set of influences is my own aimless desire for freedom – drifting away into the vast scenery and letting random thoughts taking the lead in my inspiration.

I’m not the kind of person that would take notes for what might seem important or great to know and I don’t like to keep too much track of such things. I trust that what is relevant for my work will rise on the surface when called upon.

I know artworks, others ideas and my own thoughts, anything that has touched me one way or another, ends up tagging me. That’s plenty enough for me. Anything other than that, more effort to bottle it all in and I get foreground noise throwing me off.

 

Bio:

Emmanuel Coupe was born in 1974 in Paris. He lived in Athens, Greece for more than 20 years until he moved to Los Angeles, California then Paris, France and back to Athens in 2009.

He is best known for both his engaging compositions, as well as the luminous presence of his prints. His photographs are often characterized by dynamic lighting, looming sense of darkness and his abstract compositions. A large portion of his work is linked with colder and often extreme weather environments found in various isolated wilderness areas and Nordic countries.

Early in his career, in the early nineties, he was dedicated exclusively to shooting black and white film. He worked extensively for many years in a traditional darkroom, resulting in many exhibitions. By the late nineties he moved to the US, where he became increasingly interested in landscape photography and began doing more work in color, as well as black and white.

Emmanuel’s landscape works and prints have received recognition throughout the world. Numerous exhibitions, awards and publications followed his works. Among others he was named Take-A-View - UK’s landscape photographer of the year in 2009, 1st prize in celebration of the 125 years of National Geographic, Gold medals in International Photography Awards and PX3 Paris, 1st place at the Spyder Awards and Epson Panoramic awards, best Black and White print at the Travel Photographer of the Year in 2013, Sony world photography finalist and many more.

Throughout the years, he exhibited his works in the UK, USA, Italy, China, France, Greece and Brazil. He has also lead both, photographic as well as digital printing workshops. Today, he remains as active as ever before, with the vast majority of his works being done in the digital darkroom, although he still enjoys shooting film, both medium and large format.

Interview:

1. WICH IS THE CENTRAL QUESTION IN YOUR LIFE AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
It is of importance to me to constantly remain engaged in the processes of capturing images and in-terpreting them on print. Being close to nature and taking photographs are both essentials in my life and so is the wish to create a point of contact with others through my photographs.

2. WHO ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS / OR OTHER ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?
Photographers, painters, musicians and filmmakers and just about any creative person can trigger something in me, which might carry over to a photograph and a future project. I would like however to name a few of the photographers that have been part of my photographic education and inspira-tion: Brett Weston, Walker Evans, Brassai, Michael Kenna, Eugene Atget, Josef Hoflehner, Andre Ker-tez, Henry Cartier-Bresson, Gary Winogrand and many more.

3. WHAT MAKES AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER?
If the creative is to be seen as the soul, then technique would be the body. I always admired photog-raphers who excelled in both, a bold unique vision and the appropriate carefully crafted technique that would give justice to that vision, thus become essential. Even a seemingly sloppy technique can hide mastery or a technically perfect image lack in depth.

4. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT DECIDING TO BECOME A FULL-TIME PHOTOGRAPHER?
I come from a culture in which landscape photography and exploring nature not only was almost un-heard of, but certainly not something anyone would associate with making a living with. Breaking that barrier was not straight forward, but then again I always enjoyed going against the tide.

5. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK AND WHAT IS DEMOTIVATING?
From early childhood on, I had a strong calling to seek out the often perceived as unwelcoming land-scape and find inspiration there. Art and nature always made sense to me. I come from a family of great musicians and grew up listening to lots of music, so music always made sense to me. However, the so-called civilized world failed to register with me the same deep satisfying understanding. To this day I maintain a relation with both wild nature and urban life. I seem to take away things from living in that contrast, even though I occasionally feel quite demoralized by life in the organized world.

6. WHAT ARE THE MOST PASSIONATE MOMENTS IN YOUR WORK?
I enjoy the process, the struggles along the way, the quiet moments as well as the rush of being out in nature and actively being involved with taking photographs. It’s when the possibilities feel limitless and I get to become a collector of my own impressions of the landscapes in front of me. 

7. WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK?
Practical issues aside (many of those I’m afraid), it’s the creative challenge that is the most essential to me. Putting myself in a position to be surprised, remain curious and playful are some of the im-portant elements that trigger the necessary intensity in my work.

8. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ARTISTRY?
I began photography long before the digital era; in the days of film, which I still use to this day. The darkroom was a place where I realized magic happened; spending countless hours through the years there. Naturally, I became fascinated with printing, a passion that has lasted 25 years; thus far with-out much change since my migration to the digital darkroom. Despite this long standing relationship, I remain a student. I study, discuss and above all practice printing constantly.

9. WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR PERSONAL LEARNING IN PHOTOGRAPHY THAT YOU WOULD CONVEY TO A "NOVICE"?
Study the greats before you and not just the photographers, but artists across the board. In the end, education plays a big part of the equation. Photography is an extremely popular art form; yet it is the one where so many greats are totally ignored. Even a non-musician knows and has heard the music of Bach or Mozart and all painters have studied the works of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Da Vinci and Picasso just to name a few. Yet, in photography the equivalent masters like Kertez, Bresson, Eugene Smith, Kudelka and Weston are little known to the vast majority of practicing and aspiring photographers. Perhaps the perceived ease of photography causes this epidermic approach to the need of education beyond the technical aspects. And this obscurity of the great masters might very well maintain the false idea that photography is a lesser form of art.

10. WHICH ARE THE DRIVING FORCES FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND IN YOUR WORK?
Both photography and nature tap into my curiosity and sense of wonder. There is also a tremendous sense of freedom, from being out in the wild nature. Despite the fact that I carefully study the places I visit beforehand and I think of what directions I will be taking, in the end, it’s a lot of unknowns. I will still be surprised and the images will take a life of their own.

11. WHICH FEELINGS DETERMINE YOUR WORK WHEN OUT IN THE FIELD?
A great part of my works deals with the sense of stillness, emptiness and vastness. I also often merge the feelings chaos and balance in my abstract and intimate works.

12. ON WHICH CRITERIA DO YOU JUDGE YOUR OWN WORK AS SUCCESSFUL?
The composition obviously has to fall right into place. That is, the arrangement of the elements and the lighting, which makes those elements what they are in a photographic sense. Then comes the printed interpretation, which I consider a crucial part of the process. Tonal articulation is something I obsess about. In order to hit the notes that will guide perception of the print in the right direction.

13. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK AND THE BEAUTY OF OUR PLANET, NATURE: WHAT CONNECTION DO YOU SEE?
My notion of beauty has evolved through time, as my own personal impressions of nature became rather complex. I find that the perception of order, when everything falls into place, to be the kind of beauty that interests me most.

14. ASSUMING YOU WOULD HAVE 15 MINUTES ON A TV BROADCAST AND PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD COULD LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE SAYING, WHAT WOULD BE THE CORE OF YOUR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE?
We are all people of nature, whether our modern lives have stripped so many of us from acknowledging this reality or not. Even those with lacking interest for nature will draw energy, inspiration and strength from gazing into a distant horizon. Wilderness and nature can be places where humans remove all the static noise from their life, look clearly within themselves and discover amazement about who they are. Seeing the possibilities that exist around them, renew their sense of being alive and breathing. Nature in my view is not to be thought of, it is not approached by logical conclusions. It is rather an experience that transcends and defies theorizing. Most people who seek to have deep experiences in nature will attest to its powers, which is ignored by an ever growing number of people on this planet. When we look at nature, when we look at the earth, we have nothing less of a miracle; a possible connection to something greater, right here in front of us.


At Work:

»We are all people of nature, whether our modern lives have stripped so many of us from acknowledging this reality or not. Even those with lacking interest for nature will draw energy, inspiration and strength from gazing into a distant horizon. Wilderness and nature can be places where humans remove all the static noise from their life, look clearly within themselves and discover amazement about who they are. Seeing the possibilities that exist around them, renew their sense of being alive and breathing. Nature in my view is not to be thought of, it is not approached by logical conclusions. It is rather an experience that transcends and defies theorizing. Most people who seek to have deep experiences in nature will attest to its powers, which is ignored by an ever growing number of people on this planet. When we look at nature, when we look at the earth, we have nothing less of a miracle; a possible connection to something greater, right here in front of us«

Publications:

- | National Geographic
- | High Life (British Airways)
- | Outdoor photographer
- | Practical photography
- | Chasseur d'Images
- | The Sunday Times Magazine
- | Geotropio
- | Epsilon
- | Digital photographer
- | Fotohoros
- | Fotografos
- | Goedele
- | Epikaira
- | The Photo Paper
- | Foto-Video (China)
- | Silvershotz
- | Signapore Airlines (Silverkris)
- | BW Magazine

Emmanuel's Images have also appeared in over 20 photography books.

Awards:

- 2015 |
PX3 Awards, Silver and Bronze in Landscape
IPA / Lucie awards, Honorable mention in Nature, Aerial
TPOTY Travel Photographer of the Year, Finalist

- 2014 |
PX3 Awards, Nature Photographer of the Year
PX3 Awards, Gold in Fine art Landscape, Nature and Silver in Fine Art Abstract
Sony World Photography Awards, Finalist
Maters Cup, 2nd Place - Merit of Excellence
B&W Magazine, Portfolio Merit Award

- 2013 |
TPOTY Travel Photographer of the Year, 1st prize for best single monochrome print,
runner up for monochrome portfolio
B&W Spider awards, 1st Place - Outstanding Achievement
IPA / Lucie awards, 1st and 3rd place in Nature, Aerials category
Epson Panoramic, Gold award and two Silver awards
PX3 Awards, Bronze Prize in Nature category
Loupe Awards, 2 silver and 1 bronze award in Nature Category

- 2012 |
B&W Spider awards, Nominee Winner in Architecture, Nature and
Fine Art categories
IPA / Lucie awards, 2nd Place in Nature category
PX3 Awards, two 3rd Prize awards in Nature category
B&W Magazine, Portfolio Merit Award

- 2011 |
IPA / Lucie awards, 1st Prize Winner in Nature category
Loupe awards, 2 Silver and 3 bronze awards in Nature Category
Masters Cup Awards, Nominee Winner in Architecture
National Geographic Photographer of the Year, Editor's Choice
National Geographic Traveler Photographer of the Year, Editor's Choice
IPA /Lucie awards, two 3rd Prize awards in Nature category
PX3 Awards, Gold award in Nature category
PX3 People's Choice Awards, 1st and 2nd place in Architecture
B&W Spider Awards, Nominee Winner in Nature and Architecture
Epson Panoramic, 2 Silver and 5 bronze awards

- 2009 | 2010 | Named Landscape photographer of the year in the U.K., Take A View

- 2008 | First Prize, Epson competition


Project: Fractals

This is a series about fragmentation, breakage and connection. Appearing like many cutoff pieces, yet still part of the very same rock face. These formations bare the signs of time, as water and winds, ice and fire have left their unmistakable markings.

It is an intimate look at these rock faces that is bordering to an abstract visual but eventually does not cross entirely to that side.

Project: Earth / Water / Blood

This northern Icelandic barren land is washed by an endless series of rivers running through it. Seen from the skies it appears like ice-cold blood running and breaking through the veins. Void of human context and without introducing elements of scale, such as roads, bridges, houses etc.

There is no attempt in this series to assist the viewer understand what he is looking at. This unique, unexpected visual transforms into an abstract riddle, difficult to wrap our minds around. For many people these images are an invitation for meditation and stillness.

Project: Traces of Rolling Tide

Constantly changing the landscape and carving new formations, the power of the tide easily becomes a metaphor for struggle and opposition. In this series the protagonist – the tide - is hardly made visible, allowing for its work to speak for itself. The hardened heavy rocks cling to the easily swayed sands in order to stand their ground. The endless specks of white and black sand allow freely to be arranged and re-arrange as the rolling tide passes through.

As the elements manifested, the resulting endless play of formations captivated my interest.

Project: White against Black

The icebergs have become as charged of a topic as they come in recent years. They often divide public opinion, create political tensions and their rapid melting is viewed as a threat to our very existence. I could not approach this subject from a neutral point of view, I’m not neutral to begin with and furthermore I don’t perceive neutrality as seeking the truth. White against Black is how clearly and directly I perceive this ongoing environmental issue.