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The Questionnaire : Eric Canto by Carole Schmitz


Eric Canto : The image and the music

A long time ago, he played in a band called “The Washing Machine”. Passionate about music, the idea of performing on stage was however unpleasant for him. Photography arrived a bit by chance, but it allowed him to combine his two passions, music and image, putting him in the best position according to him. Since then, he photographs and magnifies artists on stage, backstage or on tour and creates album covers with the same pleasure and the same desire to make strong pictures. He captures perfectly the looks, the attitudes, the moments of complicity and intimacy without ever being noticed.

His way of working allowed him to photograph all the stars of the music scene. From Lenny Kravitz to Jay-Z, Rihanna, Elton John, Paul McCartney and many others, they have all passed before his lens. He works mostly on the basis of his own personal preferences and the encounters he has with people.

A fan of black and white, Eric Canto also lets a little color slip into his images, creating a real universe. He doesn’t do photography for photography’s sake, but looks for a real and constructive approach that in this case he found in his love for music.

He is also the author of 3 books, the most recent of which “10 years of Furia” won the “Book of the Year 2021” award for Rock and Metal music. He loves the energy that the frenzy of his job gives him.


Your first photographic trigger ?

Eric Canto : The irrepressible desire one evening in July, to get up early the next day to go and shoot the interior of an old church visited years before. These few shots taken by a metal band are the starting point of my work as a photographer.


The man of images who inspires you ?

Eric Canto : Gregory Crewdson. I like his photography, the construction of his pictures, his graphic and intellectual approach, which pushes him to monopolize a huge team, means worthy of a Hollywood production to make a picture. Let’s say that the content and the form speak to me. I like the way he stages a character, lost in the middle of a no man’s land, I find it very beautiful. I invite you, for those who do not know, to go and see the work of this photographer.


The image you would have liked to make? 

Eric Canto : A photo of Richard DUMAS who shot Keith Richard in a hotel hallway. Apart from the iconic Keith Richard, I would have loved to have chosen this shot. Shooting one of the biggest stars on the planet and having the courage to choose this shot where you can’t see him. Just guessing the character behind the smoke of his cigarette that envelops his face. I love this shot because it symbolizes what a photographer is for me, someone who makes his choices according to what he thinks is relevant. So of course, there is the business, the photo that we have to make according to the client’s demands, but despite that, it is the photographer’s choice that defines who he is.


Which one moved you the most? 

Eric Canto : A photo of Aylan Kurdi, a small Syrian child who died during the migrant crisis. His body lying on a Turkish beach seemed unreal. It showed all the absurdity and violence of a world where numbers hide realities of unbelievable violence.


And the one that made you angry?

Eric Canto : This same photo. The emotion can only give way to anger.


A key image in your personal pantheon?

Eric Canto : A key image is difficult to define. My personal pantheon is a mixture of what Richard Avedon could produce. I remain a great admirer of his work.


What is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?

Eric Canto : To assume one’s choices. Not to want to please, but to want to please oneself. To try to concretize the image, the idea that you have in your head without paying much attention to the opinions of others. Today, technique is no longer an obstacle, a photographer is defined even more by his choices. To know how to assume them standing upright is for me a primordial quality.


What is the perfect image for you, if it exists? 

Eric Canto : For me it does not exist. The image is a catalyst, some images touch me because I project an emotion on them. Just like a Rorschach test, we find in the image what we are looking for. The image is for me a resonance box of our emotions. The perfect image will be the perfect image for you.

The approach is the same for the music, when a title will touch you because it reminds you a moment of your life. The emotion it provokes makes it unique in your eyes.


The person you would dream of photographing ?

Eric Canto : If we talk about dream, I will say Lemmy from Motorhead. He is now deceased but I met him a few times, watching him play pinball in big festivals and passing his impressive silhouette. I could have made his portrait but I didn’t dare to approach him. At one time, his band Motorhead was touring continuously in France. So we said to ourselves that if we didn’t shoot Motorhead at this concert, he would come back in 6 months. Lemmy died suddenly. Motorhead died. It remained for me a good example of the desire that we put off until tomorrow… but there must be a tomorrow.


An essential photo book ?

Eric Canto : “Beneath the Roses” by Gregory Crewdson.


The camera of your beginnings ?

Eric Canto : An Olympus film camera.


The one you use actually?

Eric Canto : Canon 5D Mark 4 and Canon R5.


Your favorite drug?

Eric Canto : Coffee.


The best way to disconnect for you?

Eric Canto : Going to sea.


Your greatest quality?

Eric Canto : To doubt everything.


The job you would not have liked to do?

Eric Canto : Singer.


The best way to disconnect for you?

Eric Canto : Going to sea.


An image to illustrate a new banknote?

Eric Canto : Any Peter Lindbergh photo.


The job you would not have liked to do?

Eric Canto : Singer.


Your biggest extravagance as a photographer?

Eric Canto : Only shoot the projects that interest me and refuse all others.


What values do you wish to share through your images?

Eric Canto : It would seem pretentious to say that I want to share values with my photos. My photos are my prism, my point of view on a subject. I try to convey my emotion.


Which city, country or culture do you dream of discovering?

Eric Canto : Japan, graphically, culturally, this country has always attracted me.


The place you never get tired of?

Eric Canto : The pit, right in front of the stage.


Your biggest regret?

Eric Canto : Losing a letter from Iggy Pop during a move a few years ago.


Instagram, Tik Tok or Snapchat?

Eric Canto : Insta!


Color or B&W?

Eric Canto : I admit to a deep attachment to the timelessness of black and white.


Daylight or artificial light ?

Eric Canto : Daylight.


The most photogenic city according to you ?

Eric Canto : New York. I love this city, I’m going back there in a few months for a photo project. I hope to find there the city I keep in mind, crazy, unpredictable, where everything seems possible.


If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?

Eric Canto : I would ask him to pose with his face hidden by a cloud of smoke…


The image that represents for you the current state of the world?

Eric Canto : A photo by Fatima Shbair that I discovered during the last Visa pour l’image. I think it speaks for itself.


What if everything had to be done again?

Eric Canto : Just before starting again, I would take a small paper with the winning numbers of the lottery, just to be at ease.

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