In the wild
Born in Poitiers in 1970, Laurent Baheux was first attracted by journalism. At the time, he was following the sports news and writing reports of the matches. One day, the editor-in-chief asked him if he could illustrate his articles with photos taken during the events, and he accepted, and little by little, his taste for images took precedence over his taste for text.
In 2002, he became saturated and wanted to go beyond the human. So, after years of working in international sports, Laurent left the frenzy of stadiums and cities to focus on what he calls “a personal monochromatic vision of wild life”. He loves nature and is convinced that “wherever man advances, nature retreats” and quickly turns his attention to environments devoid of human interference. The result: breathtaking black and white images of African wildlife.
His shots with animals are made in the same way he photographs humans, seeking to capture and convey individuality while respecting the territory of these wild animals.
Today, after having dedicated his last book to the lion king, it is to another monarch that the photographer Laurent Baheux has decided to pay tribute, and not the least. With “ELEPHANT he recounts nearly 20 years of unforgettable encounters in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana or Tanzania, with this emblematic animal that never ceases to amaze him, revealing a new facet at each meeting.
A book in 80 photograhies that offers the incomparable spectacle of an intimate face-to-face with the animal. Through his images, the photographer encourages us to take the time to contemplate the animal, to better question ourselves. “What I’m looking for is that furtive moment when the photograph will tell the character of the animal, will reveal its identity, its personality to try to bring us closer and connect us a little more to its humanity”, explains Laurent.
And to accompany his pictures, known for their dense and contrasted black and white, the Poitevin invites the pen of French author Alexandre Jardin for a singular and passionate preface. His images are also punctuated with quotes from the writer Romain Gary published in 1968 in his still current Letter to the Elephant.
Your first photographic trigger?
Laurent Baheux : A failed portrait.
The man of images who inspires you ?
Laurent Baheux : Peter Beard.
The image you would have liked to make ?
Laurent Baheux : The one I’ll make tomorrow.
The one that moved you the most?
Laurent Baheux : A portrait of my wife.
And the one that made you angry?
Laurent Baheux : A portrait of my wife.
A key image in your personal pantheon?
Laurent Baheux : The raised fists of the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium of the 200m at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
What is the quality needed to be a good photographer?
Laurent Baheux : Curiosity.
The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
Laurent Baheux : There is no secret or perfect image, only the magic of the moment…
The person you would like to photograph?
Laurent Baheux : Rather an animal, the dodo !
An essential photo book ?
Laurent Baheux : “THE END OF THE GAME” by Peter Beard.
The camera of your beginnings ?
Laurent Baheux : Minolta 500 si.
The one you use today ?
Laurent Baheux : Sony alpha 9.
Your favorite drug ?
Laurent Baheux : Africa.
The best way to disconnect for you ?
Laurent Baheux : Reading.
Your greatest quality ?
Laurent Baheux : Obsession.
An image to illustrate a new banknote?
Laurent Baheux : Money kills, with a shocking visual like on cigarette packets.
The job you would not have liked to do ?
Laurent Baheux : Bailiff or tax inspector.
Your biggest extravagance as a photographer?
Laurent Baheux : in Bermuda shorts and shirt at the Elysée Palace in the office of the president of the republic Nicolas Sarkosy during an official visit. Not at all foreseen in the protocol.
What values do you wish to share through your images?
Laurent Baheux: respect for life in all its forms.
The city, country or culture you dream of discovering?
Laurent Baheux : I dream of discovering the unexplored places of my country, France, far from the cities. There where almost nobody goes anymore. Forgotten corners of paradise deep in the countryside.
The place you never get tired of?
Laurent Baheux : Near my wife, far from the crowds. In a timeless place: castle, manor, old stones…
Your biggest regret?
Laurent Baheux : not being born in the Age of Enlightenment, contemporary of Voltaire and Rousseau.
Instagram, Tik Tok or snapchat?
Laurent Baheux : Pffff, I have trouble with the cult of me, me, me.
Color or B&W?
Laurent Baheux : Colors: black, white, light gray, dark gray…
Daylight or artificial light ?
Laurent Baheux : The sun.
The most photogenic city according to you ?
Laurent Baheux : I have trouble with cities and the ugliness of modern materials. I prefer old villages : Carennac in the Lot, Dordogne valley, Quercy side, 400 inhabitants.
If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
Laurent Baheux : Neither, but I would ask him if he had a good excuse for all this chaos…
The image that represents for you the current state of the world?
Laurent Baheux : The Titanic, an ocean liner believing itself to be unsinkable and heading straight for disaster by refusing to change course.
Exhibitions and signatures
Exhibition at La Hune gallery (Paris 6ème) in November & December 2021, Signature at the GoodPlanet foundation (Paris 16ème), on October 30-31, 2021 Signature at the Espace Sony (Boulogne-Billancourt 92), in November 2021,
Website : laurentbaheux.com