Thibault ROLAND - Sequel

Interview with Thibault Roland

#1 Please introduce yourself

I am originally from France and currently based in Boston MA, USA. I was trained in Physics where I learned optics and I worked as a biophysics researcher. My scientific background really pushed me to develop a fascination for light, how it interacts with materials and also for the notion of time, and how it can be integrated and depicted in still images. I guess that’s why I developed a passion for long exposure…

I specialize in seascape, landscape and architecture black and white long exposure photography.

Thibault ROLAND - Seven

#2 How did you get interested in photography?

I started photography very early young. I was using my grand father’s 35mm camera as a kid. For many years however, I stopped photography completely, until I pushed the door of a gallery in Lyon, France, and discovered the work of two early 20th century French masters of street and portrait photography: Blanc and Demilly. To me, this was the trigger of a passion that has only deepened with time, and I decided a couple years ago to put all my strength into it.

Thibault ROLAND - Willow, Royal Bridge & Louvre

#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?

Actually, no, I do not have an artistic background. My grand father and grand mother were music composer and vocal artist but I believe I’m the only visual artist in the family in generations. It sort of all came to a surprise for my family to think of me as a photographer, given my strong scientific background. They seemed to think that both could hardly go together…

Thibault ROLAND - San Simeon Pier

#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?

I’ve had many inspirations over the years. The first ones were Blanc and Demilly and their amazing work with light and shapes. My work has also been immensely influenced by the famous masters of street photography Brassai, Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau and their sharp and peculiar eye on our world. Some of my hero landscapists are Ansel Adams, Micheal Kenna, Hiroshi Sugimoto because of their strong and very precise sense of composition, processing and vision.

Thibault ROLAND - Sails

#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?

It really depends.
Some shots are very spontaneous: I stroll the streets, find a detail, an angle or a situation that catches my eye, and set up my equipment for long exposure.
Often however, I would scout locations with satellite images in Google Maps, and create a map of all interesting spots in a given area. If I can, I go to each spot multiple times until I find the right weather conditions, and eventually take the pictures. More often than not when I’m in the field, I also try and take a couple shots with the same parameters, because the clouds or light may look better in one or the other.
The entire process takes a long time, but it also allows me to travel virtually before I actually get to do the trip. I have many such maps, for Iceland, New Zealand or Norway for instance. I love doing that, it makes me feel like I’m already in the field!

Thibault ROLAND - Golem

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#6 Which places have been your favourite shooting sites so far and why?

One of the favorite places I went to is the Northern most tip of Newfoundland, Canada. This place is incredibly beautiful, wild, remote and almost otherworldly. When you go there at the right season, you get to see icebergs. This was my first experience seeing them, and they certainly made an impression. Unfortunately, I was not too much into long exposure at the time, and I would love to go back some day.
The other place that made me pause and really contemplate was the South West of the USA: mostly California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. I love desert and dry environments, and there are definitely a number of gems this side of the world: too many national and state parks to name, gorges, slots canyons etc. Definitely a memorable place to go when you want peace and quietness!
On the other side of the spectrum, New York City has always been a fascination for me. Full of life, energy, noise, people and subjects to take pictures of. I live in Boston, and even if I love the city and live relatively close by, I don’t go nearly enough.

Thibault ROLAND - Crooked

#7 Photographs with such long exposure make the world look really desolate and lonely. Why have you chosen to present your works in such a form?

I would actually rather say it makes it new, interesting and up for the taking and ready to be discovered!
In my eyes, creating a world devoid of any human presence is a way to dissociate from reality and to build something entirely my own, something that gave the viewer the impression they are the first human beings to discover an entirely new world, that they are adventurers.
I also want to give a sense of timelessness in my images because I try to approach my subjects with the same ideas and techniques as the photographers from the last century. One of my goals is to blur the lines and have people look at my work and wonder when the images were taken, where or even if it is photography at all or some other kind of art entirely.
Along the years, I have realized that a few minutes long exposure increases this impression of timelessness and eeriness, because it is enough to transcribe movements of the clouds into very soft streaks and flattens water like a mirror, and also to ensure people “disappear” from my images.
But more recently I have started to integrate human elements in my work. Where I wanted to erase people’s existence before, I found myself adding them into my images, most of the time by decreasing the exposure time so there are still “ghosts” of their presence.

Thibault ROLAND - Factory

#8 What do you do in your life besides photography?

My day job is still being a full-time biophysics researcher in Cambridge MA. I divide my life to these two main activities but I also enjoy simple things in life: reading a good science fiction book, watching a good show or moving, eating great food (I’m French, remember?)…
And I plan or scout for my next trip or workshop… always!

Thibault ROLAND - Gate to the Louvre

#9 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?

I just organized two wonderful shows in Paris, and I am looking for and discussing new opportunities to present and represent my work in some of the major fine art galleries in Europe and America.
I am putting together several workshops, including Boston MA in September and Iceland and Paris, France for later in the year.
One of the things that I have been working on and can’t wait to start with is a very long trip through Iceland, Scotland and a few other Nordic countries.
Otherwise, I am always open to meet new people and work with them on original and exciting projects!


Thibault ROLAND - Brooklyn Bridge Wires

5 Responses to “Thibault Roland”

  1. frank hoefs

    Interesting read and fine selection of photographies.

  2. Michael Levesque

    I have following Thibault Roland’s fantastic work for some time now. Insightful interview and as always fantastic images.

  3. Kevin Holliday

    Fantastic interview. I have always been inspired by your work and it is quite nice to learn a little more about you as a person on the other side of the camera. Cheers mate and keep up the fantastic imagery!

  4. Michael de Guzman

    Very inspiring indeed, my friend. Congratulations!!!

  5. Steven

    Nice work Thibault, good interview and great images.

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