The Spring 2012 issue of V&A Magazine, which is dedicated to British design, has a cover bearing a magnificent image of Concorde shot by Hélène Binet. This film takes us behind the scenes of the day of the shoot, and captures the drama and elegance of the great aircraft.
Photographing for me is a tool to understand and I try also with that to be able to look at the world and to say, ‘what is it?’, more than to refer to something that maybe you already know and say I’m going to photograph it this way. So, the line is always like, ‘how can I represent what is in front of me with a very, very simple tool and how can I use also this tool to know the world and to get something new out of the world?’
It’s slow, it’s heavy, it’s film, it’s plate camera, and I always make very few pictures. There’s quite a lot of preparation. Even if, somehow, each of my photographs is a slow preparation, I believe in celebrating the instant, so there’s not much change you can do after. I don’t work with digital, I work with film. I always try to reduce, somehow, the amount of experience that you bring into a photograph because photographs, if they tend to say everything, they don’t say anything. I tend to just bring out a few aspects of what I experience as a person. The contrast becomes very important; the tonality in small differences to give the volume, to be able to show the forms. And I think there’s quite a lot that we can say with grey about volumes which somehow doesn’t come out with colour - colour is distracting us. The black and white, the shading of the black and white, allows us to really read the form and material and to understand what the material is. Maybe we cannot completely recognise sometimes because we don’t have the colour, but we feel what it does and I think that’s very important. Every single detail, every piece, has a reason – has a technical particularity that belongs only to Concorde. Nothing in the picture says, ‘why is it there?’, and when you photograph architectural details and something is a little bit out of place you think, ‘it doesn’t work’, and actually it’s wonderful because you put the camera and you look at Concorde and it’s always intense. The photograph is always working somehow because it’s full of amazing solutions. I definitely have a memory of my grandmother telling me that she went to Concorde and that is an amazing airplane and as a child you are described the noise the airplane makes and you try to imagine what it is. It’s full of very old memories about something that was celebrated and now it’s not there anymore.
We are high to be able to see the plane from above which is a great thing. I can say I have been higher than Concorde in my life. I had this incredible view that I was flying on top of the Concorde and it’s quite amazing.