All arround the world

Who: Christophe Gardner
Where: Auvillar
What: Photographer

You were born in Paris, where did you grow up?

I grew up in, by order: Madrid, Israel, Michigan, Paris, Barcelona, Nice, Paris, Indianapolis, Montreal…

Where was your favourite?

Israel, I loved it; it was my childhood paradise! We got there right after the 6 day war in 1967 (I was 7) and stayed there 4 years. It was a very important part of my life, at an age where you really open up…

Where were you before Auvillar?

I was in Montreal. I lived there 8 years and my 3 children were born there.

You have lived all around the World – why have you chosen Auvillar for the moment?

Several reasons. It’s a beautiful place, people are open to the world and there’s a lot going on culturally.

Has Gascony changed over the years you have been here?

When I got here in 1998, there was almost no internet! Aside from that, I wouldn’t say it’s changed that much.

Did you imagine your French life would evolve this way?

No. I had no idea how things would turn out. I still don’t !

When did you first think of becoming a photographer?

Probably around 15. At the time I was living in Barcelona and I would do little jobs in photography. I don’t know why I didn’t persist in that direction; maybe because I didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do with my life!

At one point you were in the Navy as a photographer – what was that like?

I learned a lot and was fortunate to use incredible equipment. No digital at the time – just Hasselblads, Nikon F2’s…

You travel all round the world – is this mainly for personal work?

Yes. Personal work is mixed with pleasure (or the other way around).

What kind of assignments editorial, advertising, personal – do you like the most?

I really couldn’t say. Each job is different and I always meet interesting people. I’m pretty enthousiastic with just about everything I do.

What is the favourite items of gear you have used in the past and present?

I was lucky enough to use Rolleiflex cameras and I really loved them. In the past, my first camera was a Canon EF which I bought in 1976. I still have it. I also used Nikon FM’s but they were all stolen. I love digital, but it really doesn’t have the same feeling, although my Canon 7d and 5d MKII are wonderful cameras.

Do you do your own scanning and printing?

I scan my old negatives but I stopped doing my own printing. I now use a pro lab and they do a very good job.

You do both people and places – how do you find the interaction with people all around the world compared to the somewhat solitary landscape process?

People are the most important for me, but we’re all just part of nature, so… In any case, when I’m out shooting, it’s always very solitary. I might meet people and talk with them, but really, I’m in my own world.

Do you have a method for gaining clients?

I used to go out hunting for them. Now I’m too lazy and I just wait for them to show up! Maybe it’s just that I’m at that point where – hopefully because of a good reputation – people hear about you and come to you.

Who are some of your favorite photographers past or present?

I never really followed other photographers’ work, but I would mention, Edouard Boubat, Willy Ronis, Henri Cartier-Bresson and maybe Doisneau whom I discoverd recently believe it or not.

Who were your early influences? (not necessarily photographers)

My parents. My father was an educator, headmaster of american schools abroad, and my mother was a journalist and author. She’s still with us at 93 and probably one of the last journalists to have covered the liberation of Paris!

In a past life you were a chef who owned his own restaurant in Canada – do you see any parallells between the disciplines of cooking and photography?

They’re both artistic disciplines. I owned 3 restaurants and really loved cooking for people. Now I love shooting them. Hmmm, look up Freud…

Do you miss being a chef?

Yes! But I do have a beautiful kitchen and cook for family and friends, so it’s okay.

Finally, how do you like living in Auvillar?

I love it. It’s close to everything: the ocean, the sea, the mountains… and I love living by the river!

What do you like best or least about Auvillar?

Auvillar is a beautiful village and a cosmopolitan village too. There’s a lot going on: art exhibits, concerts, etc. What I like least? I’m not too sure… I’ll think about it!

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