Interview With Bernard Tartinville | Luxury in 360º
The Excellence of Capturing the World
Bernard Tartinville has a sparkling and transparent look, he radiates energy, tenacity, warmth, and undeniable “joie de vivre”. To get one of his magnificent images he does not hesitate to climb on a roof, hang from a cliff, or dive into an underwater grotto.
It is striking how both in himself and his work, an adventurous and deeply human essence comes perfectly together with a thoroughness and a nearly obsessive attention to detail. High doses of patience and dedication naturally flow into what he does seemingly effortless. The secret ingredient: the passion for his work.
After training as a photographer among lakes and mountains in Vevey, Switzerland, he moved to Paris in 1990, were he immersed himself in the world of fashion and celebrities, working alongside with renowned photographers. As a young assistant, Bernard had the opportunity to meet personalities such as Isabelle Adjani or Gregory Peck.
For over 25 years, Tartinville has worked in various magazines and communication agencies, combining with expertise fashion mandates with his own personal curiosity and distinctive seal, as demonstrated by his portrait series “Marie Antoinette”, among other examples.
- How did you know photography was your thing?
As a teenager I used to do a lot of hiking in nature. I used to take a camera with me in order to bring back memories. My interest in photography came from this first use. After some time I started to plan rambles for the sole purpose of taking photographs. I knew then I was a photographer. I always kept this interest in nature, but I also discovered other exciting strands of photography such as portrait, architecture or fashion.
- What does the language of photography allow you to say or tell that you cannot express any other way?
Photography is about sharing. Sharing sensations, and emotions that one feels at a precise moment. Other means, such as writing or music also allow this sharing. I do not master them. Why am I more comfortable with photography? I guess it is pure vocation.
- Frédéric Marsal, photographer and associate professor at the University of Paris 8, has said about your exhibition “The part of the shadow”: “Bernard Tartinville´s proposal gives us the opportunity to reflect on our relationship with the world. It restores the notion of distance and slowness, broadens our humility, and embrittles the utopian omnipotence of man, beckoning us to the dissolution of the ego. Away from topographical exploration and the search for the picturesque or documental, these photographs invite us to share the passion, the euphoria, the communion with nature, the joy of existing. In this sense, these images come more from an initiation journey that from a sight-seeing tour, more from the intimate than from the landscape.” Without a doubt you are a great lover of nature: what do you learn from it?
Frédéric has very well defined my relationship with nature. I can only add that I feel in my place. The feeling of being in one´s place is important. Some sites are familiar to me, I frequent them as one frequents an old friend.
- Tell me about your passion for outdoor sports and the mountain, why are they an indispensable part of your life? Do you always bring the camera along with you?
I am not a contemplative. I am most often in nature to practice physical activity. Mountaineering, biking, skiing, hiking. So far I have never considered nature as a simple playground. The pleasure I feel does not only come from the sport itself: for example, as strong as my liking for cycling is, I would never be able to practice this sport in a site that has no interest to me. It is the combination of being in the nature and the practice of intense physical activity that gives me the most joy. A necessary parentheses in daily life, far from its effervescence. Be careful, it is addictive!
And then there is the sharing. I already talked about this before. In nature there is a thing of immediate sharing: in mountaineering it is the climbing rope, in underwater diving it is the group. Your way out is linked to your companion´s. These are human adventures, these are stories of friendship. This association of two partners, allows each of them to do better or to get out of a tricky situation. It is a kind of bonding that I very much appreciate.
I never take my camera equipment when I go biking: too heavy and too risky. However I always bring a camera when I go to the mountain. Who said that landscape photography demanded a lot of time? I was wrong about the mountain! The elements precipitate, the camera is at hand.
This kind of photography is not controlled, it is almost unintended; you know there will be surprises. Will the photography go beyond what I was able to do, what I was able to show? All expectations are allowed. The photography alone merits the ascension. Will I be the only one able to judge its sincerity? If one observant person is affected by my pictures, or can feel a little of the emotion that I felt in the face of the breathtaking sight that the mountain offers to us, my trek will not have been in vain.
- Your virtual tours are really stunning. The degree of detail and the work on color and light often allow for the photographed space to be more appreciated and enhanced in the images than in real life. What is it that attracts you the most about immersive photography?
You know, I started my professional career at a time when digital photography did not exist and when Photoshop would have been considered science fiction. I’m not jaded by what I still consider a technological feat: the possibility to immerse a user that is in his living room in the Palau de la Música Catalana (Catalan Music Palace) in Barcelona, or to propel them to the edge of the Aiguille du Goûter, in the Mont Blanc massif, where they can have a taste of an altitude of more than 12467 feet. Being an actor in this process and trying to make the most of it is very exhilarating. I apply the visual quality stringency levels and thoroughness that have been instilled in me during my four years of photography studies in Vevey, Switzerland to new technologies. Stringency levels and thoroughness that have been widely used among professional analogical photography, and that are unfortunately all too often lost on arrival (of the yet amazing) digital technology. This allows me to make virtual visits that are very different from those mass-produced that swamp the largest firms of the net.
- Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? What is your idea of self-improvement?
For me it is very satisfying to do the right thing. I need to find an interest in what I do. All photographic projects can be interesting if you put all your knowledge at the service of their execution. There is a sense of pleasure in the realization of a technically accomplished work. It is almost selfish: I love to get into every detail of a photograph and mobilize the techniques and skills that are necessary to achieve the best result. I enjoy the craft. I feel no pleasure in rushing through my work. I admit that there is also a part of pride in this: I could not stand to see a mediocre or awry photo with my name circulating. There are clients who place value on this approach, that they need. A virtual tour is a photo. A 360° photo, but a photo all the same. Some clients forget this and consent to buying a virtual tour which quality is worse than mediocre. Would you pay a professional to photograph for your advertising campaign with a smartphone? So why should you agree to this on the grounds that it is 360° photograph and visible on the internet?
- When you are commissioned a job, you care a lot about listening to the client´s needs and truly understanding what it is they wish to communicate. What is your strategy to achieve this listening and establish dialogue and trust successfully?
When I go to an appointment with a client or prospect, I do not have a particular strategy. I know this statement might make the marketing experts tremble! I do not like the word strategy in human relationships, I prefer to speak of common sense. I do not represent a large company, I do not have to report back to a boss: it is me speaking with my client. I know my job, the various uses of photograph according to different needs. I mostly let my interlocutor speak so I can better understand their expectations. My expertise then allows me to advise them accordingly. A client will choose me because my work is suitable for their needs. When I am entrusted a new project, my goal is to satisfy. Experience has taught me that a customer who is satisfied with the work is a customer who will come back. I have many examples of loyal regular customers amongst which I must mention: The Majestic Hotel in Barcelona, Spain, and the Tourist Office of Vichy, in France, that has commissioned me various virtual tours. The Colonial company, for which I carry out portraits of its managers and directors. Or Mark Oliver Grant, with whom I have been working for fifteen years in fashion photography. Also, given that these stunning virtual tours are an excellent tool for luxury real estate development, Nuvo Barcelona, a company specializing in advice to foreign investors, trust me to photograph some of its most valuable properties.
- You are originally from Vichy, France, for which City Council you work closely. In fact, your virtual tour of the Vichy Opera House has been selected to represent the French Ministry of Culture in the 2017 European Heritage Days. What is it from your homeland that is in your essence, that always accompanies you?
That is right, I was very flattered when the Ministry of Culture contacted me last July in order to share my virtual tours on its site, on the occasion of the European Heritage Days, as an example of successful digital communication. It is a recognition of my work and an incentive to persist in my quality standards. I was born and raised in Vichy. It’s a beautiful city, with beautiful architecture, lots of green spaces, a rich cultural life, plenty of sports facilities, and magnificent country surroundings. The mountain has also been important to me: I used to spend most of my holidays at the foot of Mont Blanc, in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, where my mother is from. Between l’Auvergne and Savoy, I had a very happy childhood. But I am positive that we owe more to our parents, to our family, to our happy and unhappy experiences, than to our homeland. I believe in the value of leading by example with children, and now that I am a father, I try to never forget that.
What kind of photography do you love to do the most?
I cannot answer that! I really love finding myself inside the Palau de la Música or inside a cathedral, to depict its volumes, colors, and light with respect for its architecture in every last detail. Or, you know, finding myself in nature trying to convey through the images the emotion I feel before the beauty of a landscape, fills me with joy. I also loved doing a fashion photo session inspired by the film “La Strada”. Finding the right cast, that would resemble Giulietta Masina and Anthony Quinn, looking for locations, carrying out the photo shoot… Should I choose among all these photographer pleasures?
- If you had to define your philosophy of life in one sentence, what would it be?
Do everything to be happy with those you love, and have no remorse.
- Do you have a personal hero or heroine?
I have a great distrust for heroes. Often, this or that person that was admirable in a special occasion, proves to be somewhat disappointing at the human level on a daily basis. I have no Pantheon of idols to admire!
On the other hand, I esteem highly those people who cross my path whose integrity and personal ethics as professionals resist the assaults of our society. If, in addition, they are endowed with sense of humor and fête, then they could become my heroes!
- What is your next professional goal?
To carry out the high definition virtual tour of the ascent of Mont Blanc.
- And a dream yet to be fulfilled?
To travel a lot with my children to keep discovering the beauties of the world.
- What is your biggest success in life?
I just mentioned it: my two children. Without doubt.
- What do you think of the following statement: “You can be, do and have anything you want”?
I think faith, positive thinking and confidence are important and I also believe it is even more important to be willing to fight for our values, for what is dear to us, for what we believe in. Do not abdicate anything, do not give anything up. It might not be easy sometimes, but life is worth every effort. As I said, I am not a contemplative, I am in constant action. You have to be the protagonist of your own life and not just a hopeful spectator. To achieve your dreams you have to immerse yourself fully and wholeheartedly in the picture of life.