Mastering the Language of Light
I have known Marc-Olivier Giguère for 15 years. A Quebec native equally at ease in French, his mother tongue, and English, Marc also masters the ins and outs of language IT . If you work in translation and attend conferences, you may well have met Marc-Olivier at the Terminotix booth. You know, the lanky fellow with close-cropped blond hair and electric blue eyes. Did you know that Marc is also an avid and very accomplished photographer? I didn’t either. Recently, we had brunch together and he shared his passion with me.
Marc and I hadn’t seen each other in a while so, as usual, we had to catch up on all the haps in our corner of translation world. And, as usual, Marc is very intense when he talks about work. When we shift gears to talk about photography, he remains intense but he smiles more and his shoulders relax. The first thing he clarifies is that photography is not about the camera.
“For me, photography happens way before you pick up the camera to see what happens. It happens first in your head, how you see the world around you. Patterns, contrast, colours. ‘Photo’ means light. If you don’t have light, there’s no photography. You have to see the light. When you have the camera in your hand is when the technical part comes in.”
Marc has had a camera in his hand since spending a year interning at the Sheffield office of SDL about 10 years ago. On his off time, he would bike the country side and try to capture what he saw. As a post-sales support and training professional and the public face of Terminotix at industry events, Marc has traveled extensively. Both at home and abroad, he has used his junkets to refine his eye. Last year, a trip to Poland proved to be an important turning point personally and as a photographer. Since then, he has invested a great deal of time and energy into his art.
His studies in translation surface even when talking about photography. “Photography is communication. Art is communication,” he says. He compares composing a compelling picture to crafting a moving text. “If you’re unable to technically take that shot with a camera, it’s as if you didn’t know the grammar rules. You have to master the grammar.”
In an email he sent to me after some nocturnal reflection, he elaborated on the comparison. “A good photographer is like a good writer, you have to know how to ‘phrase’ your pictures in order to get your message across as intended.” For him, the grammar rules of photography includes aperture and colour settings.
His fascination with technology also shines through. He once spent time in a darkroom and enjoyed the “intimate” and ritualistic aspect of the process. Also a sometimes DJ, he compares the process to spinning vinyl. Digital developing. which he prefers, he likens to mixing MP3s. A Photoshop fanatic, he would like to teach others how to master the complex and powerful software. Already, he has taken on some students who he introduces to photography with hands-on, field training.
Marc’s interest in digital manipulation emerges powerfully in his work. He often seizes on a signature colour or texture then mutes all other visual ‘noise’. While he enjoys portraiture, he favours landscapes, both rural and urban, and architectural forms.
A man does not live by earning bread alone. Pursuing a passion feeds him in ways that a regular paycheck cannot. Photography clearly fires Marc-Olivier’s imagination that he then communicates eloquently.
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Photo credits: all the photos in this post are Marc’s with his permission.