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The Questionnaire : Gilles Pernet by Carole Schmitz


Images & poetry

Born in France in the Jura, Gilles Pernet is a self-taught man who could have become a horse breeder (he owns two horses) or a watchmaker, almost natural career paths when born at the foot of the Jura mountains. He started photography at the age of 20 and quickly turned his passion into a profession. Obsessed with detail, light, the composition of images and the Flemish painters of the 17th century (Klaes and Coorte), whose rigor and precision are partly responsible for his taste for still life.

He likes to deconstruct everything around him to introduce poetry.

The list of brands that have called upon his talent is long and prestigious: Jaeger-Lecoultre, Lalique, Poiray, Daum to name but a few, but his artistic work extends beyond simple photography. His images are similar to paintings.

In his universe, photography dialogues with other materials, being a support for creation and not necessarily an end in itself. There is in his artistic approach a work of deformation of the photographic process.

Living for a few years near Megève in an 18th century farmhouse facing the Mont Blanc, Gilles Pernet contemplates from his balcony the preserved nature that he sees adorned with different colors as the seasons go by… “For a long time I left the landscapes in peace, contenting myself with surveying them,” says Gilles Pernet. If he likes to walk with his hands free, without a camera, to simply observe the nature that surrounds and nourishes him, he also likes to photograph it and retranscribe an image of what it inspires him with an extreme sensitivity.

After a long interruption, and a work in the shade, his images reappear thanks to Armel Soyer who presents him since 2014.

A great lover of contemporary art and architecture, his research around pixels regularly leads him to New York, capturing the night and the colors of the Big Apple. For the past two years, he has been working on the Accademia series, which mixes bodies and classical painting, and he is experimenting with new media, such as tapestry.


Instagram : gillespernet

Website : /  


Your first photographic click ?

Gilles Pernet : A cow in a meadow, against the light and badly framed….


The man of images who inspires you ?

Gilles Pernet : Irving Penn.

Irving Penn, Irving Penn: In a Cracked Mirror, New York, 1986. © The Irving Penn Foundation


The image you would have liked to make ? 

Gilles Pernet : One of Irving Penn’s still lifes.

Irving Penn, Still Life with Watermelon, New York, 1947 © The Irving Penn Foundation


The one that moved you the most ?

Gilles Pernet : I remember this picture by Dorothea Lange showing a mother and her children during the Great Depression…I always found it poignant…

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, March 1936 – U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information. Prints & Photographs Division.


And the one that made you angry ?

Gilles Pernet : Nick Ut’s Pulitzer prize winning photo of a little Vietnamese girl burned  napalm…

Nick Ut , Nine-year-old Kim Phuc, center, runs near Trang Bang, Vietnam, after an aerial napalm attack on June 8, 1972 © Nick Ut / AP


What is the necessary quality to be a good photographer ?

Gilles Pernet : To dream, to always leave room for dreams…


The secret of the perfect image, if it exists ?

Gilles Pernet : Balance and emotion.


The camera of your beginnings ?

Gilles Pernet : Nikon F.


The one you use actually ?

Gilles Pernet : Nikon D 800, and my iPhone (so easy!).


Your favorite drug ?

Gilles Pernet : Bordeaux, without moderation…


Your greatest quality ?

Gilles Pernet : Self-taught, I learn fast…


An image to illustrate a new banknote ?

Gilles Pernet : A tree.


The job you would not have liked to do ?

Gilles Pernet : Judge.


Your biggest extravagance as a photographer ?

Gilles Pernet : Sorry, but I don’t think I was ever extravagant…


Your biggest regret ?

Gilles Pernet : Never having been extravagant, I just realized it…


Instagram, Tik Tok or snapchat ?

Gilles Pernet : I use instagram a lot, like a sketchbook that I share.


Color or B&W ?

Gilles Pernet : Colors, they live in me.


Daylight or artificial light ?

Gilles Pernet : Daylight: the older I get, the less light I have…


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

Gilles Pernet : If I can do his portrait, when I meet him, I will suggest to him to go outside to do it : the light is better…


Which image represents for you the current state of the world ?

Gilles Pernet : The Scream, by Edward Munch, masked…




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