Saturday, July 14, 2018

Haunting images of the St. Lawrence River // WaPo

Haunting Images of the St. Lawrence River
Charles-Frederick Ouellet grew up near the Saguenay River in Quebec. His interest in photography began when he was a teenager, and he went on to study it in college. At first he was mainly interested in photography as a way to document skateboarding. It wasn’t until he was in his 20s that he began to be interested in documentary photography. But that early interest in skateboarding remains with him. “One thing I learned from skateboarding is: It forces you to look at urbanism and architecture with a different perspective,” he told In Sight. “Through skateboarding, I learned how to create and improvise in the urban landscape. I do apply the same pattern for photography. You just have to open your mind and learn to look differently.”

Ouellet told In Sight that it wasn’t difficult to find his subjects because he used to live in a town on the river and knew many of the fishermen. It is through their perspective that he shot “Le Naufrage.”

“My work is anchored in the documentary tradition, but the idea of storytelling in a traditional documentary sense does not interest me that much,” he said. “When photographing, I don’t feel I have to stick to representation; instead, I try to see through the eyes of my subject. In ‘Le Naufrage,’ the images I was taking changed after I realized we were always talking about weather condition, history of navigation and natural elements. I felt I had shot enough of the men working at sea, and I started photographing the clouds, the sea and the shipwreck sites we were talking about. After that, my edit changed, and it became more poetic, less illustrative.”

Looking at the images in the book, it is true that the work is more interpretive and poetic than it is purely descriptive and linear. You can see more about the book at his website. In the meantime, you can see a selection of his images here.