Claude Renault’s images show the day to day occurrences in India. Using his photographs he gives the viewer an intimate and colorful journey throughout the land that has become his canvas. We appreciate Claude sharing a few moments with JRP Blog.
JRP: Where are you originally from Claude and what has led you to covering India as a focal point of your photography?
Claude Renault: I am from Brittany, France, lived abroad for 25 years. I just came back to France and live in a little village of Normandy, Cambremer, unless I am traveling. Nowadays I travel mostly to South East Asia, mostly India, a country I am deeply in love with. I try to be there 4 months out of the year.
The first time I went to India was in 1984, a 3 month trip. I couldn’t travel back there until 1999, when I went free lance. Since then, I go back every year.
JRP: Do you have any formal photographic training?
Claude Renault: No, I never really study photography, although when studying Sculpture in a National Art School in Rennes I started to shoot a lot. At the time in black and white, color was too expensive. I loved to process the images in my lab.
JRP: What tools would we find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?
Claude Renault: I started to use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II this year and I am still using a Canon EOS 5D and Canon L lenses. I stopped carrying flashes since I like to shoot in natural light. I also carry a Zoom Handy Recorder H4. Getting older I find myself using fewer lenses.
JRP: Is there one lens that you just can’t do without and why?
Claude Renault: I like the 28-70mm I had for years, (I’ll buy the 24-70mm soon) even though I am just coming back from Morocco where I did find myself using the 16-35mm seventy five percent of the time.
JRP: Do you spend a lot of time post processing images? Could you please describe your digital work flow and the software you use?
Claude Renault: I must admit I don’t really spend a lot of time processing my images. I do as little as I can so the image can be viewable. I kind of like to find exactly what I remember shooting in my images. I don’t like them to look over-processed, something we see a lot these days.
I edit my files with Expression Media in my Mac book during the trip at night, when coming back home.
I do some exposure correction, and minor retouching with Photoshop Camera Raw.
When shooting, I try to compose my images in a way I won’t have any cropping to do afterward.
JRP: Do you make use of a lot of custom white balances when you shoot?
Claude Renault: I always leave it on Daylight or Auto Setting, I don’t really bother with it since I always shoot RAW.
JRP: Image printing, how do you handle that?
Claude Renault: I don’t handle prints, I send the files off to a professional lab I trust. They do exactly what I want. I just had an exhibition in Normandy this past month and I was really happy with all the prints they did for me.
JRP: For you what is the most critical moment in the capture of an image?
Claude Renault: Difficult to answer that question. I always try to put myself in a situation where a good image will jump in front of me, a lot of patience is involved here. Usually I can feel if the image I shot will be good or not, a gut feeling I guess. Sometimes, I even get shivers before something happens, it’ a very emotional process. Difficult for me to express all of my feelings in English, sorry.
JRP: Are there any projects you are currently working on?
Claude Renault: I keep shooting India, I’ll be leaving for India to shoot two stories at the end of September, a few months again.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Claude Renault: I wish somebody had given me some advice since I need a lot of it! I tend to be a “loner”, so I don’t have a lot of contacts with other photographers.
JRP: Is there a photographer whose work has inspired you?
Claude Renault: The list could be long, I love HCB’s work, Abbas, Raghu Rai, Jonas Bendiksen, Marc Riboud, Steve Mac Curry. I guess my main inspiration comes from a painter, Paul Gauguin. I am simply in love with his work, the way he built his paintings, the palette of colors he used, and the subjects he painted.
JRP: What advice would you share with photographers starting out?
Claude Renault: I suppose it would be pretentious to give advices to others. It’s a very difficult business to be in, and not easy to succeed at. Just walk through museums and exhibitions to find your path. Don’t forget to shoot what you love, we’ll see the results in the images, and don’t be obsessed with material. A camera is just a tool you need after all.
JRP: Thank you Claude for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a real pleasure talking with you. We wish you continued success.
Claude Renault: Thanks to you too James, keep up the good work with your Photography blog. I was already a follower before you asked me for an interview.
JRP: To view more of Claude Renault’s photography please follow these links: