Thomas Millet : The Art of Portrait
Thomas Millet was originally destined to be an architect before becoming Denis Rouvre’s assistant. In October 2000, he left to be the photographer on the “Wanaume” expedition: 170,000 km in Land Rover and two years of travel from Paris to Cape Town via the Middle East and East Africa, followed by a crossing of South America. Back in France, Thomas Millet began a series of “Hidden Portraits”, while ensuring the artistic direction of the Espace Guillaume Expo in Paris. He also worked on corporate projects for BNP, SANEF freeways and Dexia, and designed the cover of the album We’ll drive home backwards for the electro-pop group Cocosuma. His “Hidden Portraits” were then exhibited in Paris and Arles, but Thomas Millet also pursued his museography activities at the Charles de Gaulle memorial in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, for the Jupille forest (Sarthe), and then as part of the Paul Ricard centennial exhibition in Marseille and on the island of Embiez (Var). In parallel, he worked on roads and mobility in the world, and began a new world tour between 2009 and 2010, during which he began the series “Without gravity”.
In 2011, he created with Carla Talopp, visual artist, illustrator, textile and graphic designer, Karma Milopp studio and settled in the Gers. Since 2017, both have been revisiting the art of family portrait. To do this, they evade the traditional codes, the models pose in front of the canvases with unexpected patterns of jungle or underwater imagined by Carla before being re-lit by Thomas. the Result are images full of poetry and cheerfulness.
Instagram : thomasmillet77
Your first photographic trigger?
Thomas Millet : I started taking pictures in my first years of architecture school, I spent more time in the black and white lab than in the lecture hall. Very soon after that, I met Denis Rouvre, whom I assisted for a year. Seeing him work was decisive.
The man or woman of image who inspires you?
Thomas Millet: Salgado has an incredible life path, and his images are magnificent. Also the photographers of the Tendance floue collective
The image that you would have liked to make?
Thomas Millet: Those of Thomas Pesquet from space. The Beatles crossing Abbey Road.
The one that moved you the most?
Thomas Millet: A photo of Tim Walker of a tree in a bathroom.
The one that made you angry?
Thomas Millet: All images of war.
A key image in your personal pantheon?
Thomas Millet: Self-portrait jumping naked in the Salar de Uyuni. This image closed my world tour, it was the perfect synthesis of this trip: a feeling of total freedom and vital energy. It was the beginning of a long photographic series that resulted in a book “Sans gravité” (Ed. La Martinière).
A photographic memory from your childhood?
Thomas Millet: My grandfather taking a portrait of me and my brother, always in the same place year after year, in Brittany.
With no budget limit, what would be the work you would dream of acquiring?
Thomas Millet: I would love to live with a work by George Rousse, Philippe Ramette or Rineke Dijkstra.
According to you, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?
Thomas Millet : Curiosity and empathy.
The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
Thomas Millet : Being in the right place at the right time… luck.
The person you would like to photograph ?
Thomas Millet : As a portrait photographer I love all types of faces, I like to be in front of people who are not used to being photographed. Through Studio Nomade, which I created with my partner, the artist Carla Talopp, we realize portraits of a very enriching diversity both from the human and artistic point of view. At the beginning we were addressing families around us, today the project takes us across borders, from the social center of our town to a community of Indian women in Kerala, through the festival Portrait(s) in Vichy (2018).
An essential photo book?
Thomas Millet : The others, by Olivier Culmann.
The camera of your childhood?
Thomas Millet: My father took me to a toy store to buy a gift for a child my age. I chose a blue and yellow Fisher Price camera. It was actually intended for me. I was 6 years old and was so surprised. My father passed away shortly after.
The one you use today?
Thomas Millet: A Canon.
Your favorite drug?
Thomas Millet: Cannabis …Travelling.
The best way to disconnect for you ?
Thomas Millet: DIY ! We live in an old farmhouse in the Gers and the renovation is endless… but I find it satisfying, while finally returning to my first love, architecture!
What is your relationship with the image ?
Thomas Millet: Permanent, I observe people and landscapes a lot. I am a contemplative.
What is your greatest quality?
Thomas Millet: It is not for me to answer this question. I hope to be a nice person.
Your last folly ?
Thomas Millet: Swimming (naked, of course) in a frozen lake in the Pyrenees last weekend.
An image to illustrate a new banknote?
Thomas Millet: A tree.
The job you would not have liked to do?
Thomas Millet: A repetitive job where every day is the same
Your greatest professional extravagance?
Thomas Millet: For the past 10 years I have been working on a long term series in which I involve my own family. We curl up in the landscape as we wander around. It is a series that speaks of the relationship to the body, to nature, to human bond. This is the Love project.
What do you think are the bridges between photography and design?
Thomas Millet: The harmony of the composition.
What city, country or culture do you dream of discovering?
Thomas Millet: I have traveled a lot from my 20s to my 35s, I would love to meet the last primitive people of the Amazon or the Inuïts if they still exist.
The place you never get tired of?
Thomas Millet: Anywhere, as long as I am with the people I love.
Your biggest regret?
Thomas Millet: I don’t have any.
In terms of social networks, are you rather Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Snapchat and why?
Thomas Millet: I’m not very active on social networks, I look at Instagram a little but way too much for my taste.
Color or B&W?
Thomas Millet: Color.
Daylight or artificial light?
Thomas Millet: Both.
What is, according to you, the most photogenic city?
Thomas Millet: Rio de Janeiro.
If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
Thomas Millet : …. No thanks, I prefer to leave him where he is.
If I could organize your ideal dinner, who would be at the table?
Thomas Millet : Damasio, Claire Nouvian, Fabcaro.
The image that represents for you the current state of the world?
Thomas Millet: There is an image of Philippe Ramette in which he walks vertically on a cliff For me the world is not so bad, it is the man who does not know how to position himself on it.
What is missing in today’s world?
Thomas Millet: Common sense.
If you had to start all over again?
Thomas Millet: It would be a shame.
The last word ?
Thomas Millet: Thank you.