Your Spontaneous Adventure with Photographer André Josselin

“Doubt thou the stars are fine; doubt that the sun doth move; doubt truth to be a liar;
but never doubt I love.
- Wiliam Shakespeare”

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Photographer André Josselin creates a classic and timeless feel in his set of black and white photographs Before I Ever Met You in Paris, intermingling his images with quotes on love (like the above Shakespeare). Against the mise-en-scène of the city of Paris, his pictures relay some of the deepest emotions we experience through life: meeting someone new, building memories with someone you love, and even going through heartbreak.

Leica M10-P in hand, André wandered with Charlie Weiss and Mara Lafontan drinking coffee, playing with pigeons and smoking cigarettes on balconies. Using only available light, André was able to make his images feel natural, realistic and impulsive.

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We sat down with André to learn more about the project and the thought process behind it.

THE PLUS: Before I Ever Met You has a distinctive vintage look. What did you have in mind when settling on this?
André Josselin:
Actually, Paris was giving me the idea of doing something kind of timeless. The city itself is magical with its architecture, laissez-faire lifestyle and the mood it gives me. It’s something romantic, but also something which is laying heavy on your chest, while walking through the streets.

TP: Why black and white?
AJ:
Black and white was a decision just to underline the timeless mood of this imagery. You should not be able to tell when these images were made when you first look at them. Is this 1965? 1980? 2019? Black and white gives you the freedom to concentrate on what is happening in the image, without being distracted by colours. I usually don’t do that because normally my strength is in finding the right colour scheme, but in this case I think it was necessary to keep them simple.

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TP: Tell us about the sense of lightness and movement throughout these photographs: what sort of narrative do you try to convey with it?
AJ:
It is all about what I see in a moment. It’s not that I plan these kinds of things. I have a distinct mood in my head which is hard to describe. And then I just let it flow. Most of the time it works out, but sometimes it’s hard for me to satisfy my own aspiration. I just work with real lightning, no reflectors or flashes. Everything is based on what we have in these moments. That’s why these images are so alive. We are just walking around, talking, joking, having a coffee. And this is what comes out of it.

TP: You use a couple of short quotes between a few of the pictures in this project. Tell us about where they are from and why you chose to use them in this way.
AJ:
I choose the “before I ever met you” quote, which is from my favourite singer, Jilian Rose Banks, to complete the mood of those visuals. They should represent everything from building memories together to getting into a deep relationship with somebody. Feelings you never felt so deeply before. That’s what I saw when I looked at those images. Beforehand, I didn’t know that I would use that quote or that song. I saw the pictures and was like: ok, there’s so much freedom in them, but at the same time they feel so heavyhearted – that’s why I felt these quotes were the right ones. There are always the good times, which make you feel nostalgic some months or even years later.

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TP: If the series had a soundtrack, what would it be?
AJ:
When you look at the images you should hear the following songs: “The End of Love” by Florence and the Machine, “Pulse” by IDER, and “Only You” by Maths Time Joy. You can use my playlist which is called “108 Havemeyer Street” on Spotify.

TP: Tell us about how the prominent Parisian architecture and setting of these photographs contributes to the project.
AJ:
The Parisian feeling coming through in these images is what I wanted to achieve when I was traveling to Paris in the first place. That’s why I decided to join these two. Everything in this city is contributing to my style of imagery.

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TP: How do the people and places you work with when shooting a project affect the experience and final product?
AJ:
The people and places inspire me the most. Without them, I would be nothing. I come in with nothing, and coming out with a series like that, that’s a gift and something I find so fascinating. Last week there was no idea in my head, and now these images exist a couple of days later. That’s magic and what I love most about photography.

TP: Tell us a bit about your photography background – how and why did you get started and grow from there?
AJ:
Oh boy, I have been taking pictures for nine years now. I started out with a camera of my dad’s in December of 2009 and got my own first big DSLR camera in January 2010. That’s a freaking long time ago. From that point on, of course, I did not know where it would lead to and never had the expectation of making a living out of it. It was just me and my camera playing around. It took me six years until I earned money with it for the first time. And now the projects are getting bigger and the recognition is constantly growing. I never thought that I could inspire this many people.

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TP: How much planning goes into your photoshoots beforehand versus spontaneous decisions?
AJ:
It’s 90% being spontaneous and 10% planning. I cannot plan. I am the worst. Even when I plan something, I change it on the fly when I am working. So that is my biggest flaw, but maybe my biggest strength as well.

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