The concert photographer Pierre Lapin fell in love with the hardcore musical scene. He left Lorient in Brittany to move to Paris and photograph the artists he admires. “Rather than being a rockstar, I photograph them” he says. A few years later, he photographed Lous & The Yakuza, Jeanne Added and Sébastien Tellier. He talks to us about energies of concerts and the encounters that galvanize him.
When did your interest in photography begin and how did you put it into practice?
My father had a lot of film equipment. When I was young, I even had a Fisher Price, with a film that I still haven’t developed. In college, I did my internship with photographer Yvan Zedda, who specializes in sailing, food and packshots. Then I studied Fine Arts. There, I became familiar with photography by practicing more specifically black and white and developing my images. So I left Lorient to settle in Paris. I wanted to photograph the energy of parties, concerts and people, especially those from the hardcore and rock scene. Rather than being a rockstar, I photograph them.
What are the specificities of your work as a concert photographer ?
Live work induces several obligations. They are material: like the the presence of crash barriers, the position of the stage and the lighting. The low lights complicate the task. They induce slower pause times to freeze the moment. The difficulties are also human. The position of the public implies having to navigate between the spectators for certain shots. Artists can also ask to be photographed at specific times in their setlist.
All these accumulated stresses put you under a particular pressure and excitement. The time is not unlimited. You have to identify the exact moment you like, knowing that it also depends a lot on the artist.
How do you manage to transcribe these musical atmospheres in your shots?
I let myself be carried away by the music. It imposes a certain rhythm, a bit like a Hero Guitar video game. Each instrument has its climax. We manage to apprehend them by participating in lots of concerts. You just need to be attentive, curious and let yourself be carried away.
What were the key moments in your work ?
I discovered Paris while traveling through hardcore concerts. There was this very special family atmosphere. At each concert, you meet the same people. The artist was important, but the audience too held a key place in the space. In this culture of hardcore music, there are many codes, especially at the level of the crowd and its movements, such as mosh part (a type of so-called brutal dance) and stage dive (action of diving from the stage of a concert in the crowd). Each concert is a kind of fight. I owe my first publication, in Raise Magazine, to these concert photographs. Even though I have a sharp eye on my work, the photos of actor John Malkovich and James Blake were also important moments.No matter the lights, the artists and their energies, your photos follow a common thread. What are the founding inspirations of your photographic sensitivity?
Anonymous. I have a very internet culture. In the heyday of tumblr, I did big mood boards. More than precise profiles, it is above all evening desires, concerts and atmospheres that inspire me. In the concert photo, some photographers play with the scenography or the lights. I rather work with a zoom or long focal lengths, to capture faces. What interests me are the little stories and accidents, the ones that only happen after the moment is here.What does your dream project look like?
Today, my aspiration is simply to be able to photograph artists that I admire, to regain confidence and confidence in my practice of portraiture. Paying homage to the hardcore music scene, the one that got me started, is a real urge. I would like to create a project around these very specific concerts: its crowd movements and its endangerments.
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