On the Red Couch: Fotopedia Photographer Eric Lafforgue

Inside Flipboard / December 1, 2011

If you’ve seen Fotopedia on Flipboard, you know the magazine is synonymous with breath-taking photography from every corner of the world, including remote areas only rarely seen. Eric Lafforgue is one of the photographers who captures all of this beauty and travels to places like North Korea (he’s been five times) to bring you an inside look into how people live.

What kind of camera do you use, and why did you choose it?
I use mainly three cameras: Hasselblad H4D50 , Canon EOS-1DS Mark III and Canon 5D Mark II. Canon’s are very easy to use and thanks to the lenses, they give me the opportunity to take all kinds of pictures, from macro to landscapes. I use the 85mm at 1,2 for my portraits. Hasselblad’s would be the best if not for the technical problems. The colors are fantastic; they make digital look like films. I gave up on the Leica M6 and film as I’m fed up to waiting for hours at airports while the police watch my films, and with the X-ray machines that burn them!

What is your take on digital photography?
I never really knew the era of film, so I cannot compare.

Digital is quick, but it takes a long time to edit. As I shoot in raw format, I have to go through Lightroom or Phocus to get the picture I dream of. I try my best to take pictures that do not require a lot of editing, but to meet the magazines’ requests, it’s always hours and hours of work.

I was just in North Korea and came back with 3,000 pictures. I think I will edit 700 of them, so it is easy to imagine how many hours that will take. I think most people use digital in the simple mode, the automatic one, and it is the worst…Every time I meet amateur photographers, I teach them the basic tips for aperture or speed mode, and sometimes the manual mode, which is the only one which can produce a “pro look.” It is so easy once you know those little tips.

What’s your take on ‘iPhoneography’?
It took me a long time to start using Hipstamatic, but now I always have my iPhone and this app with me!

I must confess that I feel iPhone pics are like a TV’s remote control: it is fun for the one who uses it, but not for the ones who look at the photos.

I am preparing an exhibit with iPhone pics in big format in December, and it works well. The colors are so strange, the pixels from outer space! I think iPhoneography is the best way to make it easy for people to take pictures, but in another way it is also the worst way to understand light, colors, and flash as you do not control anything.

You’ve photographed North Korea. What was that experience like?
You just cannot imagine what is it until you actually go there. In a sense it is like what you can read in the news about the regime, but it is also a country where people are really welcoming if you make the effort to reach out to them.

It is a real challenge to take pictures in North Korea as photographers are not really welcome, and pro photographers are just forbidden. I tried my best to communicate with the people I photographed in North Korea, and share the photos with them. I came back with a lot of pictures last year, and people had a real joy getting them.

What is your favorite place to shoot and why?
The Horn of Africa (including Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea) is one of my favorites. The people are incredible; you still have strong cultures in the tribes.

The fewer tourists, the happier I am! But I know that, thanks to my work, many tourists will go and enjoy these places…everybody can go. I do not like when pro photographers complain that “tourists are killing cultures.” If you don’t want tourists to come, do not show pics from those places!

I also love the Pacific Islands such as Vanuatu, or Papua.

Where would you like to shoot that you have yet to?
I would like to go to Turkmenistan, but they turned down my visa.

What magazines / blogs do you read on Flipboard?
Every day I read the BBC, Al-Jazeera, the Times, the Guardian, and CNN. I also like very much the Fotopedia stories. It is a great way to discover a place, a culture. It’s a smart idea that I had never seen before on my iPad. I’m proud to be a part of it!

Tap on the button below to see Eric’s work in Fotopedia Magazine.