A Photography, A History: "New York City 1980"

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"New York City winter 1980. Manhattan women talk with a policeman" Francis Apesteguy

Interview Francis Apestéguy


Francis Apestéguy is a famous French photographer who has long worked as a paparazzo for the biggest news agencies like Sipa and Gamma. His photographs were exhibited at the Pompidou Center in Metz during the exhibition "Paparazzi".


ArtPhotoLimited: Can you explain the context in which this photo was taken?

Francis Apestéguy: It was in 1980 during my first stay in the USA, I was amazed by this universe. As a young paparazzo, I used to photograph my subject closely and suffer the consequences. Robert Capa said on this subject: "If your pictures are not good, it's because you were not close enough". So I applied the same technique to street photography. In this picture, I like the attitude of the policeman dressed as in Tintin, the look surprised. It feels like he's calling me "Hey, you!" Supported by the movement of his hand, while the two middle-class Manhattan on the contrary seem delighted to be photographed ...

From your point of view as a photographer, what attracted you to New York?

It is the relaxed energy of the Americans!

How has your paparazzo experience been used for street photography?

As a paparazzi we are not invited to take pictures, so we have to do fast and well, which is a very good school ... And in silver it was either good or bad, we did not have photoshop!

This photograph was made in silver. Are you nostalgic about this era?

This photograph was made with a 35 mm Leïca with a TriX 400 asa film. I am not nostalgic about this era. The evolution towards digital is a bit like when coal was replaced by oil. But I consider that the immediacy of digital, through its screen, obeys the psychological approach of photography.

What led you to embrace the profession of photographer?

I was a dunce at school, so when my parents understood that I would be better off in working life they put me as an assistant. Among other things, I had the opportunity to assist Sam Lévin, Willy Rizzo and finally Helmut Newton. I then launched myself as a photographer reporter starting out on my own cover events in Belfast in Northern Ireland. My pictures did not make a tobacco, but it was a good start!

How did you specialize in celebrity photography?

In photographic agencies like Sipa Press or Gamma you have to know how to do everything, it was therefore occasional but it still represented two thirds of my time.


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