Laurent Roch’s 10 Favorite Photographs

At the request of Bird In Flight, French street photographer Laurent Roch chose 10 great photos from his archive and explained why he loves them.

Laurent Roch, 44

Street photographer. Born in Paris. Studied economics at university and worked in this field for twenty years. Lives and exhibits in Nice.

I was sitting in Hyde Park eating a sandwich and basking in the spring sun, and suddenly a group of schoolchildren appeared. Immediately, I grabbed my camera and stood in their way. I wanted to catch their dynamic in the shot. People usually tell me that this photo looks like a still from the film Chariots of Fire, referring to the famous scene on the beach.

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It was a hot summer in Sarlat-la-Caneda, in the south of France. There was an air show being held outside the city. I wanted to work with the symmetry and shape in order to achieve visual harmony. The line left by the plane echoes the shape of the car window. These photos need to be taken quickly and without hesitation.

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At festivals and ceremonies, I prefer to look at what’s going on around the spectacle rather than following the main action. At the Cannes festival I noticed an unusual character who was just walking around with his two pigs. It was hard to believe in the plausibility of that moment. It was just completely surreal and absurd.

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This dinosaur from the Causses du Quercy natural reserve was terribly photogenic and perfectly fit in with the trees. I included two children in the shot to heighten the drama, and thus tried to tell a story or allow the viewer to come up with it himself. I’m the kind of photographer who works only with what exists and I never prepare anything in advance, and I love it when humor is engraved into the composition of a photo like this.

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This beach photo is from the series “Riviera,” and was taken in San Remo. I love shooting in Italy, especially at the beaches. The Riviera is a strip of Mediterranean coastline in France and Italy. They have preserved the serenity of “la dolce vita” and the infrastructure of the beaches has hardly changed since the 1960s. The cityscape from the French border to Genoa inspires me with its old-fashioned-ness. My inspiration for this is the work of Luigi Ghirri.

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I met Francois by accident. I was wandering aimlessly through the Causses du Quercy on that cold winter day. Francois was in his garden and invited me in to warm up. He lives on the edge of the forest, suffering from loneliness, and he’s got a great need to talk to speak to people. We chatted for a few hours, he talked about his youth, about the war and about how easy a farmer’s life is. It was a simple, yet emotionally rich meeting. He was proud that I took his picture. I came back to Francois a few months later to give him the photo.

Recently he was in an accident while on his tractor and spent several months in hospital. However, he has since returned to his farm where he always lived alone.

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This was my first day in New York. I left my hotel and saw this silhouette straight out of the series Mad Men. In the early morning hours there were very few people on Madison Avenue and I was able to follow this man in spite of the fact that he was walking fast. The morning light delineated his shape, especially his shoulders, as if he was wearing an officer’s epaulettes. It was like a scene from a movie. New York is, in general, one of the world’s most photogenic cities.

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I decided to take some pictures of the Hudson River waterfront when my eyes were struck by a tree illuminated by a sunbeam. I saw in this a symbol of resistance. A lonely tree in a polluted city and among the concrete seemed to come to life at the moment. It was necessary to wait for a taxi in order to fill the frame with color and balance. Every time I look at this picture it seems like I’ve ended up in the paintings of Edward Hopper.

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Every summer in Nice, the youth dive from this tower. It’s not allowed as the construction is very old. I waited until the boys climbed to the top so that their silhouettes were above the horizon. Once they jumped, the still was complete with harmony and synchronicity.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/laurentroch_09.jpg”, “alt”: “Laurent Roch”}

This one’s also from Nice. The weather was bad and the Promenade des Anglais was empty. I was struck by the circle on the pavement. I have no idea why it was drawn there. I decided to shoot it with a row of chairs in the background, and this man joined the composition at the moment the shot was taken. He brought a sense of timelessness into the picture, which I value and always try to include in my photos.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/laurentroch_10.jpg”, “alt”: “Laurent Roch”}

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