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Photographer Louis Dazy always amazes me. He works with film and has done a whole lot involving the neon portrait trend. But Louis takes it further. You see, Louis is an actual creative with amazing amounts of foresight. He’s honed his craft and doesn’t Photoshop. Even better, he does it all with film. He gets asked how he does this often. And Louis was elated to tell the world in an interview with us.
“Everything that happens in the night time is far more interesting; I tend to see things differently, take time to reflect, be in touch with what I feel and what I want to reveal in my photos.”– Louis Dazy
With the Lost in the City Lights series, how did you execute this? Did you go out and shoot the roll, then came back and reshot on it?
That’s a question that I get asked a lot, so I’m glad I can answer it here with The Phoblographer. Basically, I have 6 différent SLR film cameras; I load them with film (usually Portra 400 or Gold 200, sometimes Lomo 400), I go out shooting, and whenever I shoot with one, I write down on my phone what it was, location, framing, etc. I used to have only one camera for shooting all the time but now that I’ve got 6, I feel like I can have more control over what I shoot. I don’t shoot the whole roll, then wind back and reshoot on it. It’s a bit too messy for me, so I just shoot one frame on one camera, and if I see something that can make a nice double exposure, I shoot it again on the same frame. I hope that makes sense.
What sort of creative vision did you have for this? Did you know what was going to come out beforehand?
I usually know what is going to come out before getting it developed. As I said earlier, I write down everything I shoot on my smartphone, so there’s not much surprise anymore when the film comes back from the lab. My creative vision has kind of always been the same for a while, mostly double exposures, neons, nights, low light, shooting at night gives me that nostalgia feeling I never get in the daytime. Everything that happens in the night time is far more interesting; I tend to see things differently, take time to reflect, be in touch with what I feel and what I want to reveal in my photos.
Technically speaking, were the patterns of neons overexposed, and then you underexposed the portraits? I’ve known that to be the case at times with how these work.
Most of the time, I use the same settings, so I don’t even look at the meter that much. F2, 1/125 for neons because they’re bright, and F2 1/30 for portraits to get as much light as possible in without a tripod. I’m not sure if they’re overexposed or underexposed, but they’re mostly right this way. I find it to work like a charm, so I never questioned why I always shoot with the same settings.
What attracts you to neons, stars, and city lights?
I was always intrigued by night time growing up. It always felt very different to me, and my mind sure doesn’t work the same at night; it feels like I’m a regular person in the day and turns into an artist at night, I guess, haha. Neons are that safe light in the dark, sort of a lighthouse for night roamers.
“Not much; I usually post my scans untouched.”– Louis Dazy
How has shooting in the pandemic changed you as a photographer and creatively?
Unfortunately, I just stopped shooting during the lockdown. I had no choice. We couldn’t go out for any other reason than groceries, so I started working on a 3D animated short film meanwhile. Now that the lockdown is over, it didn’t change much for me. I keep shooting, but it’s been tough financially speaking, so I need to work more most of the time, which leaves me tired and out of energy for personal projects. I hope the situation gets better soon; I need to get back to shooting more.
Just curious, how much Photoshop is typically done with this stuff? I know you create in-camera, but we’ve always wondered about skin and stuff.
Not much; I usually post my scans untouched. Though sometimes, if I have an awesome shot and colors feel off to me, I can use Lightroom to fix it; it doesn’t happen much, though. In the end, it’s really about the artist’s vision. There’s no wrong way to do it. Just use any technique you want as long as you’re happy with the photo you get in the end!
What’s inspiring your work these days?
I have to say I’ve been watching Twin Peaks by David Lynch all over again a few weeks ago. This series never ceases to amaze me no matter how many times I watch it, it’s all about the vibe, the ambiance, the energy. I love it beyond words, and it’s always been a huge inspiration for me.
All images used with permission from Louis Dazy. Follow him on his website, Behance and Instagram. Have a series you want to share that you’ve done without Photoshop? Find the details on how to submit them here.