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“What seems lifeless, for me, on the contrary, is very alive,” says Delphine Queme. She adds, “ I love minimalism…I am searching for harmony in my photographs, something I don’t find in life, and in a world which is often too violent for me.” Minimalist photography is about scaling back. Removing the clusters of life and offering a visual that’s free of the meaningless and that focuses on the specific. With Queme’s minimalist photography, she offers something peaceful. Void of the dramatics, her work settles us as we move from one image to the next. She’s a thoughtful soul. And she’s often trying to create character in a world that can lack identity, or how she puts it, “I need to create beauty otherwise life is too dull.”
Gear Used by Delphine Queme
For her minimalist photography, Delphine Queme uses the Canon 5D. However, she told The Phoblographer that she’s looking to shift to a mirrorless system and get the recently released Canon EOS R5.
Delphine Queme and her Journey to Photography
Queme’s relationship with photography was born out of a challenging time. She was first given a camera soon after he mothers passing. Instead of allowing the grief to overcome her, Queme’s connection to her camera forced her to go out into the streets and create. She explains that the process of creating images gave her mind something to focus on, rather than getting too depressed because of her circumstances. She’s yet another example of how powerful photography can be when it comes to managing one’s mental health.
14 years later and Queme is still in love with the craft like she was all those years ago. She’s spent seven of those 14 years working professionally. And today she splits her time between commissioned work and personal projects. Although she feels she hasn’t evolved much during her time, she did tell us, “my eyes are sharper. And I extended my interest in the kind of subjects that I shoot.”
Her influences include pioneers of our industry. William Eggleston, Andreas Gursky , and Eugène Atget were the three names that came out when we asked her which photographers have inspired her through her career. On Eggleston, she says, “he is so free in his mind, allowing himself anything. He selfishly follows his own desire.” When asked about Gursky, she told The Phoblographer, “I saw a documentary about him a long time ago that freed me from the “artist” cliche. I saw someone who is like me that is not dreamy, unorganised, or unmethodical – the opposite of what people usually think an “artist” should be.” As for Atget, whom she refers to as “my master,” she had this to say: “He just methodically shot the Paris he loved that was disappearing. [He’s] probably the greatest artist of all time.”
“As a photographer I love to shoot places. I make photographs that anyone could easily do but no one does (as Raymond Depardon says),” explains Queme when we begin to focus on her photographic identity. “No matter where I go, I always find myself photographing the same walls, sidewalks and doors.”
Opening up about her style, she says:
“Figurative photography can also become almost abstract as my pictures try to leave some space for the spectator’s imagination and fantasy to build the rest of the image within their mind. That is why sometimes you don’t really know what happens in the picture. What is behind a window or a curtain, who reflects on the wall, for example. Thanks to the framing of the image and the lack of human presence, reality becomes dreamlike, fictional and even somewhat strange.”
We enjoyed spending time with the work of Delphine Queme. In a time where we have been saturated with images of protests and face masks, her work was a refreshing reminder of the artistic power of photography. Afterall, Queme sees herself as a creator, rather than a documenter. We need that kind of voice within the photo industry right now. Not attached to conflicts and pains of this world (although that work is important,) she instead makes a choice to show the world how beautiful the mundane can be. And that is her main motivation within her photography, as when asked what makes her tick, she signs off by saying, “making beauty and helping people to forget the day to day of life.”
You can see more of Delphine’s work by visting her website.
All images by Delphine Queme. Used with permission.