Interview with Jerome Arfouche
In a few words, who are you?
My name is Jerome Arfouche, I'm a photographer and darkroom printer living in Montreal, Canada.
When does your interest in photography begin?
The earliest I remember making pictures is 2005. Soon after I used the money from my first job to get a film camera and before long I had it on me every day.
What do you shoot with?
The vast majority of my work is shot with a Leica and a 35mm lens. For the past few years I've been shooting everything on Ilford HP5 (35mm) film which I process myself. I've experimented a lot but I really like this film and how it comes out printed.
There’s a continuous style throughout your work. How would you define it? Why mainly black and white?
My style is pretty straightforward in that I shoot what I find, there's not a lot of technique or setup involved. I favour natural light and compositions that aren't too tidy. I like to alternate between contrast and a softer, greyer style. I’m simply more expressive with black and white. It's a surreal presentation of reality that allows poetry and subtlety to exist alongside melancholy or darkness.
How has your style evolved from the first time you picked up a camera to now?
Looking back there's been a few big shifts, but I'd say the most important change has come from shooting more loosely and in a more personal way. When I started I wanted to emulate the photographers I liked, I also had a narrow idea about what a photograph was. I think my work now is more deliberate, but also less constrained by what I think I should shoot. I just photograph what interests me, no matter what that is.
What do you like to photograph?
I'm attracted to small, lyrical moments in everyday life. It could be anything from a portrait to an empty storefront. Right now I'm shooting a lot of plants and flowers in the city.
Who or what are your creative inspirations?
Photographically I love the work of Rinko Kawauchi, Graciela Iturbide and Klavdij Sluban. I see in their work, although wildly different, a similar drive to see poetry in everyday reality. I also find a lot of pleasure in the work of Rachmaninov and Calvino.
To your eye, what makes a good photo?
For me a good photograph is one where we can get a glimpse into the photographer's mind, one that expresses something personal about what they feel, how they think, the way they experience reality. It's very difficult to do but when that aspect of yourself comes through in a photograph it's just beautiful.
We have seen you’ve been travelling a lot and that you have been making travel diaries from different places. What do you try to capture and reflect on your pictures? Which is the place that has inspire you the most so far?
Although I appreciate the photojournalistic method, I don't strictly document a place when I travel. I'm mostly shooting my own experience as I explore a different place, whether new or revisited. Sometimes recurring ideas and thoughts will gain a new perspective in a different setting.
Each place has inspired me in a different way. Places that are older, more layered, that resist any immediate or superficial study are most special to me
Do you have any ongoing or upcoming projects that we can look forward to?
I've been printing a lot lately, I'm hoping to put together a series and make a zine sometime in the near future.
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