Image is a concept that we at Bon Vivant are constantly thinking about. For us, image is about who we are, how we think, but most importantly how we see ourselves in the world. As clothing designers, we apply that vision to the clothes we make and how we wear them. We also think a lot about images because our founder Jean-Mat Vincent, in addition to designing clothes, is also a photographer. In a photograph, we put a lens to the world to capture a particular moment in time and create an image from our own unique perspective. Making clothes and making images are similar in that way, we take what’s given to us in the world, like beautiful handcrafted fabrics or a sun-soaked Venetian canal, and we make it our own. In turn we leave you with an image of the world as we see it.
For our F/W 2019 editorial, we took two of our favourite photographers, Gab del Canto and Patrick Ménard, and asked these expert image makers to do something they rarely do — turn the lens on themselves.
Photography by Patrick Menard
Model Gab Del Canto
Bon Vivant: Aesthetics and composition are so important for both photography and clothing design. How do you approach composing your images?
Patrick Ménard: In photography and in the way that I dress I like simplicity. I like to give my subject space just like how I like to keep my clothing free from logos and other distracting elements. I find it’s easy to overdo it and create a very busy image, but it’s a challenge to remove elements in a way that accentuates your subject. Also the context of a shoot usually contributes to the way I compose.
BV: You went to film school, you were a lead photographer for a marketing agency, and you also run a refurbished vintage camera retailer. How have your experiences with all these different styles of photography influenced your own personal style?
PM: To me there are photographs and their are pictures. The photograph is personal, methodical and emotional. When I go out on my own or travel I’m taking photographs whereas a picture serves an immediate purpose like marketing an object. I’ll use my cinematic background when composing for architectural or landscape photographs and apply my product photography knowledge to photograph my cameras.
BV: It could be said that photography has never been easier. The average digital camera is capable of capturing very high-quality images and phone cameras have never been better. With all these tools available why choose to shoot analog?
PM: The main reason is to slow down. I’d never tell you that a digital camera is [worse] or less useful because that’s not true. The way I look at it is they’re different tools altogether. Personally, it’s my preference to use a tool that was designed to last many years. The metallic feel, the mechanical parts, the lack of an LCD screen to me just feels real.
BV: What’s one camera and one film stock you can’t live without?
PM: Recently, I found my favourite camera again, the Minolta CLE with a 40mm
lens. I use Portra 800 shot at iso 500-640. This overexposes the film slightly which is where it thrives. If you want to ever use only one film stock, look no further. You can shoot all day and into the evening. If you’re shooting warm landscapes I’d use Ektar 100. I’ve gotten my favorite photos ever using that stock.
Photography by Gab Del Canto
Model Patrick Menard
Bon Vivant: Your portrait work is very intimate, how do you balance portraying your subject as they are while also leaving your personal mark on the image?
Gab del Canto: Whenever I shoot with someone I always try to go for coffee first and get to know the person, that way the person is a lot more comfortable in front of me and the camera which makes the pictures look more natural. I also shoot mainly on film, so depending on what mood I am trying to get I can pick different film stock and also a different camera. An important part of my process is to develop trust and friendship with the people I shoot and I believe that’s what makes such a big difference in my work.
BV: Some of my favourite work of yours is your black and white street photography. What does shooting in black and white offer that colour doesn’t?
GDC: For me black and white photography feels more natural, it offers a different perspective from what we see in reality. All the colours become tones of greys and it removes all distractions from the subject. I also enjoy the versatility of black and white film because you can carry one type of film and shoot it in almost any condition.
BV: Skateboarding culture is something that shows up frequently in your work, how do you think the culture has shaped the way you approach making images?
GDC: Being a skater myself since I was a kid, I always loved reading skateboarding magazines and I was fascinated with all the photos. I don’t skate as much anymore [but] I never lost the passion for it. In some ways I view skateboarding and photography as the same, you can spend an entire day outside trying to get that one trick or one shot right. There is also the constant hope of someday getting some kind of recognition for it and even if you don’t, you wake up the next morning and get back to it because it makes you feel good.
BV: You’ve shot Patrick many times before this, do you think photographers make good subjects?
GDC: I think they really do, they know exactly what you are looking for and they participate a lot. Some photographers prefer hiding behind the camera and will be quite awkward in front of the [lens], most of the time they make amazing models and are a delight to shoot. A big part of my work is actually portraits of other photographers and their friends.