Here is another part of our series entitled I remember by French photographer Bernard Plossu. Since the early 1970s, he has been photographing his friends. His rare portraits were never shown, but regularly The Eye of Photography presents a selection of them.
My portraits are always moments of encounter rather than planned portraits … and so I like to call them encounters.
As a teenager, in the age of the Cinemathèque in the early 60s, I photographed my buddies with my Kodak Retinette. Then came the photos of friends and the shots from my Mexican journey, and in 1966 the road trip to Big Sur: I didn’t know yet that I was really going to become a … photographer!
I’ve met tons of people, and there are some encounters I didn’t photograph, like with my friend Sergio Leone, or Moustaki on his motor bike, or Max Evans the Western writer, or even Gerard Blain in 1963 on Porquerolles! It is all in the moment, I didn’t think … but felt?
An encounter can take place without being photographed…
Sometimes, it’s a request, like in the case of Isidore Isou with Pierre Brochet and C. Schlatter, or an encounter of my dreams, like going to see Albert Cossery at the Hôtel La Louisiane…
But the main thing is, the friendship of the moment, not the scoop, or whatever!
You see, these encounters, they’re a great way of celebrating life! Because there are some incredible moments! Lisette Model so demure, inviting me, “yes Darling,” that’s rare! or Alvarez Bravo poised so simply on a street corner in London!
There are also people one loves and whom one sees often, several portraits over the years, like Denis Roche, Lewis Baltz, Max Pam, Luis Baylon, a life shared. In a word, these are in fact sentimental encounters! These are photos taken out of a need to take them. So they are all about the time, the era. Without intending to, they speak of the passing years…
Now, there are portraits of friends who have passed away, and that’s hard… Looking at them demands strength because one misses their voices, their gaze… Of the 5 friends who came with me to the Chiapas jungle in 1966 only one remains! Hampton, an American.
These were encounters with people with whom sharing life was magical, whether they were trekkers, travel companions, or writers, artists, or photographers.
So here are a few photographs, from all countries, of all ages and styles, and I’m happy to be able to share these images of all of them with you.
Bernard Plossu’s archives are managed by Signatures.