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Christian Maillard: A world in black and white


His sojourns in Europe, the United States, South America, the Far East, and Africa have influenced his photographic eye: for Christian Maillard, traveling and photography are inseparable. Without frills and distortion, the French photographer’s analogue black-and-white photographs depict the reality he finds. Maillard’s first monograph, Photographs contains pictures taken around the world during the years 1996 to 2016.

There are only a few corners of the Earth Christian Maillard has not seen. He describes himself as an “energetic traveler,” and has visited around seventy-five countries to date. On vacations, as well as on personal business trips, new, interesting horizons are always opening up for the French photographer. It is usually not the great and glorious sights, but the small, seemingly marginal details that capture his eye, which has been honed over the years.

Maillard is very deliberate about his choice of motifs: He works with conservative technology, and changes his analogue, black-and-white film after thirty-six pictures, as is customary. “It’s good for discipline,” explains Maillard, “it means that I think twice before pressing the shutter or not.” Over the course of his career Maillard has never used more than two rolls of film per day. Nevertheless, he still manages to take a considerable number of pictures. His archive contains “57,600 photos,” he unhesitatingly avers. The speed of his answer indicates that he must have counted more than once.

Maillard’s style is conservative, “classic,” as he calls it. He has never wanted to revolutionize photography or pursue entirely new approaches. Rather, his ambition has always been to take “good pictures.” Even though Maillard—who taught himself photography—also refers to works by great photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and André Kertész, he still mixes these inspirations with elements of his own life, revealing his intimate view of the world in the process.

Thus, as a passionate mountain climber, he devoted himself mainly to land and mountainscapes during the early stages of his career. But in those days, he did not consider himself a photographer or even an artist. It was not until a photographer friend had to cancel a show and asked him to jump in at the last minute that things changed. Maillard has been showing his work since 1997, and over time he has added characteristic, everyday motifs to his oeuvre. Whether he is dealing with a person, landscapes, or street scenes, Maillard’s gaze is always direct, personal, and committed. “The essence of photography involves the maintenance of memories, doesn’t it?”

The French photographer’s first monograph, now published by the German house Hatje Cantz, Photographs, and features pictures from the years 1996 to 2016.


Christian Maillard, Photographs
Published by Hatje Cantz

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