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Arnaud Février’s journey from sailor to professional photographer: shooting with drones and mixing narrative technics

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Born in Paris, Arnaud Février started his career as a sailor but now he can call himself a professional photographer. His specialties are aerial & drone, corporate & industrial and travel photography. And because of his talent in photography and moving images he is lucky enough to travel around the world. He already worked in Lisbon, Beirut, Riga and a recent aerial shoot took him to Mexico, Bangkok and Hong Kong. His amazing images are published in various newspapers and city guides. But how does he stay creative in a world where everybody can call themselves a photographer? What are his plans for the future? And what about his take on drones technologies? You can find out by reading this interview.

Client : SNCF Réseau

Production Paradise: You started with sailing and now you are a photographer. When and why did you decide to become a photographer?

Arnaud: I was ten year old when I started to sail a little dinghy on a lake where our family house was built. My father had bought me an Optimist. He was then an active sailor, photographer and writer. In 1971, he had been one of the founder members of the French sailing magazine ”Voiles & Voiliers”. I have been lucky enough to travel with him across the world. The general press and magazines were paying us quite good fees at the time. My father had often assignments from French and foreign magazines as well. I have been lucky enough to grow in a rather artistic atmosphere of high quality. Thus, photography was just an evidence. I had just to convert the passion in a job. After two years spent in a Paris photographic school and five years as assistant for several photographers, I have chosen to become independent.

Personal work

Production Paradise:  How do you stay creative as a photographer in a time where everybody can call themselves a photographer?

Arnaud: The arrival of digital photography and the possibility to share moments immediately has strongly democratized the photographic act. Looking at my 17 year-old son with his mobile phone, photography and video are everyday use for him. To escape from this kaleidoscope of daily images, most of the talented photographers break away in concentrating about long-term series in close collaboration with sociologists, geographers or economists. Some move up to the moving picture. When you film in 8K, you obtain 7680 x 4320 pixels. That is really the future. Some photographers work with a 4×5 dark chamber in a more documentary style. For my part, I like to mix narrative technics.  During the same day, I realize at the same time photographs and collect a verbatim report in video for my client. I do enjoy this global vision. I also exchange a lot with graphic designers, art directors and web designers. I share my passion on Instagram. This is a delicate balance to achieve as my communication also becomes that of the company I am working for. I love to scroll in the Cosmos Arles Book as most of the publishers are proposing outstanding books. To keep eyes open means to work on neighborhood topics. I just finished a portrait series about my town Cheerleaders. The experience gained was immensely valuable for me. I will publish it early 2017 in the form of a newspaper.

Client: Colas

Production Paradise: You do a lot aerial shoots as well as on the ground corporate ones. Can you tell us your experience working as an aerial photographer? What’s your take on drones’ technologies? 

Arnaud: It’s always a great pleasure to leave the ground to reach the air. I did my first aerial shootings with my father for the starts of French ocean races. Beyond of a good photographic technic, you must know how to anticipate the moment of interest and read the space in order to place the helicopter or the plane at the right place. The quality of the photographic files given by the professional cameras and the post production allow to work in backlight and between dusk and dawn. This external lighting shapes the space quite well it gives to the towns a special atmosphere. As for the ground, the idea is to isolate a place, play with the lines, the tempo whilst the shimmer of light brought their backgrounds to life.

This is why I became increasingly interested in drones two years ago. I ordered a special hexacopter (six propellers) able to use a Sony Alpha 7S-II camera. Thus, the 42 million pixels resolution allows high-quality prints. For a project under constructions, a road for instance, this tool provides me an additional viewpoint. How many times I have been wondering: “With 20 meters higher, this viewpoint would be unique”. Nowadays, there is an obvious possibility with the drones. By the way, there is no need to fly very high. Most of my shootings are made between 30 and 60 meters. To fly drones in France is subject to special scrutiny and regulations. Before to fly above a populated area, you must get several authorizations and inform the control tower if you are close to an airport. After the video, using drones is my third commercial activity.

Client : SNCF Ouibus

Production Paradise: You travel around the world for big corporate shoots, can you tell us about the photoshoot you are the most proud of?

Arnaud: Concerning the video, it was one month ago in Hong Kong. I have been assigned by the Bouygues group to film the world biggest earth pressure tunnel borer. I have been really impressed by the size of the machine and its complexity.

About photography, it happened on February last year: the Chief-Editor of the Alstom in-house magazine asked me to illustrate the velocity of their trains in South France landscapes. Just know that between Avignon and Marseille, the TGV trains are traveling at 320 Km/h! It took me two tracking days to find a place where I had both enough the right distance and a dynamic landscape. Obviously, and for safety purposes, the railways tracks for high speed trains are highly protected and often hard to access. The Duplex train stormed up to 300 km/hour in the last ray of light before rain. I used the 80-200mm 2,8 L-II lense with my Eos DS-R and a carbon-built, Manfrotto camera tripod. Five clicks later, I had got the right image.

Client : Alstom

Production Paradise: You did some great things in your career as a photographer.You had the pleasure to capture the concerts of rock star Jean Michel Jarre, you worked in the French Navy military service as a photographer and you did charity work for hospitals in Baghdad. What are your plans for the future? Do you have a dream project you would love to shoot in the future?

Arnaud: First and foremost, I am led by curiosity. It is often said that photographers working about corporate are very complete. I totally agree with this statement. First, you need a significant technical background in order to cope with very different requests. Also, you need to have clients who bring you with them it make you grow. I am totally passionate by the human adventure of the industry. Projects and encounters with women and men who are daily realizing major feats are guiding me. I would like to follow the Elon Musk’s projects about transportation but also free up time for more personal work. Get out of my safety zone and meet more inner subjects.To keep on the lookout!

Client : Bouygues

Production Paradise: How has Production Paradise been helpful for you as a photographer?

Arnaud: I am present on Production Paradise since some years and I have had the pleasure of meeting with staff members in New York two years ago during a portfolio review. We have exchanged a lot. The team has the advantage to be present both in Europe and the United States. The quality is their primary focus. Because of Production Paradise my work is known outside Europe which allowed me to get some assignments from foreign countries. Graceful the directory, I also found easy to locate renters of studio equipment when I am outside France. I must say that I have been convinced by the highest quality of the creative people who are present on Production Paradise.

We would like to thank Arnaud for taking the time to speak with us. You can see more of his work on his website and on Production Paradise.

If you want to show off your latest work to the industry in the next edition of Production Paradise’s Spotlight or Showcase magazine, contact us now at showcasemagazine@productionparadise.com or spotlightmagazine@productionparadise.com.

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