Sep 28, 2013

Christian Mondot - I Just Started to Think in Black and White


© Christian MondotAs I scroll through my Instagram daily feed, I'm always thrilled to see a new photograph from Christian Mondot. The black and white tones, the composition and the mood of his images are masterfully crafted. I had the chance to interview Christian and was thrilled to learn more about him and his work. 


© Christian Mondot


© Christian Mondot

Geri:  What is your name and where do you live? 

Christian:  My name is Christian Mondot. I live in Toulouse, South West of France. 

Geri:  How did you get started with mobile photography?

Christian:  I first played with mobile photography using my second mobile phone (maybe in 2002), shooting skies around the beautiful house in the hills I was renting at the time. Mobile cameras had very poor definition then but I used to capture such unreal colours that I printed some of those shots for fun. I made my real first steps in 2011, when my son @seeyouinthecrowd on Instagram brought me back to IG after I deleted my first account. (I'm always saying that my son usually has a positive influence on me. This is a genuine example of it.)


© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

Geri:  Do you have a traditional photography or art background?

Christian:  I can't say that I have a traditional background. I discovered photography in my childhood when finding an old 6X6 Lumière and began shooting my toys with it! But maybe since that moment I have sort of "kept an eye", meaning a special way of looking at things around me through the years. 

Actually I'm very interested in contemporary arts, in the way some painters don't show but suggest things. They are my main influence. I often quote Anselm Kiefer's work (a German contemporary artist) as some kind of reference to me. The way he uses and mixes matter, raw material, photography and paint. The way he expresses the memory of time. The way he works with light.

© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

Geri:  Who or what inspires you?

Christian:  The answer is Time. Time as an intimacy. What I can feel about its action when it operates on things. Its effects. And also the way time plays with light and defaces or makes them up. Maybe that's why mobile photography is a way of reaching painting without imitating it. Staring at a person, a place, a scenery or a landscape does not lead me to consider them as they are, but more as I feel they are for a second or two at a very special moment. I mean once I've seized their intimacy, their nature. That's why I also may shoot immediately or as well take several minutes before shooting. So yes, I've been trying to think of photography as a painter does with his work...always searching for something beyond what appears. I would say I'm more sensitive to what doesn't show. What is hidden may sometimes be more important. Silence vs noise ~ Music doesn't exist without silence.

© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

Geri:  You shoot mainly in black and white.  Looking back in your Instagram gallery, I did detect a bit of color.  Was it a conscious decision to exclusively post black and white images?  If so, why?

Christian:  I did color when I started shooting for Instagram. Then, introducing step by step a little black and white, I noticed that I could put more strength around the most ordinary things, playing with contrast.  That's what probably also led me to shoot differently. I just started to "think in black and white", composing with light and shadows, shapes, perspectives, space, movement, blur, etc., just as if I had to consider them again. But I was not that sure of it - I couldn't decide. Yet, my son had the last word...

© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

Geri:  I noticed that you are a member of the Royal Snapping Artists?  Who are they?

Christian:  I'm one of the 12,000 members of this family. Pat (@sound_design on IG), founded the community one year ago because he was fed up to see how IG was going with nudity and all that Facebook stuff. He decided to provide a special place within Instagram to share their uniqueness. To me this sounded so clear and right that when he asked me to join the family, I did with real interest and pleasure.

Geri:  Now to your amazing work!  Do you plan your shoots or are most of your shots spontaneous?

Christian:  I don't plan my shots. Since I was a child, I've been used to looking at everything that surrounded me as if I'd see things for the last time, or just as if they were part of a movie that you couldn't rewind and watch again. From that time, I developed the habit of sitting still, for a few minutes before shooting once for all, instead of taking several shots of the same subject. This gives me a special point of view of things or people, and it is also a way of conditioning the way I shoot them. Nonetheless, I also schedule special outings to a particular place at a special time and organize some family "Instameets" with my son from time to time.

© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

Geri:  Do you have a favorite subject matter that you like to shoot?

Christian:  No, I don't - I often steal what I see when I see it, except when my son and I decide to do some trespassing. I keep the habit of moving for shooting which is why most of my pics are landscapes or seasides. Funny when I think my first photos on IG and Flickr where two or three nudes of women! I deleted them one week after posting them after I read the comments. Anyway, I'm not so comfortable with shooting people. I mean, I do it, but portraits are complicated to me. 


Geri:  Do you use the native camera app to shoot?  If not, which do you prefer? 

Christian:  Most of the time I do use the native cam. I also tried Camera+ a couple of times and I happen to shoot with PureShot when I want some raw format.


© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

Geri:  Your black and white tones are some of the best I've seen.  What apps do you use to process your images? 

Christian: Thank you so much. I usually use Snapseed and Filterstorm to work on my photos, but I always try to figure out before shooting what the light is going to bring me at the moment. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime, but other times I also shoot in such haste that I have to work a lot on the original shot. This was the case with the man on the bicycle, passing my brother's car on the left side. I wasn't so sure of the result.



© Christian Mondot

© Christian Mondot

Geri:  Have you ever exhibited your work?  If not, any plans to do so?

Christian:  I haven't so far. I have received some invitations to do so or to publish, but I still don't feel ready for that. I sometimes think I still have to improve, to give more strength to my shots, see how far I can push the limits of shooting and editing with an iPhone. I still don't want to use a DSLR. It is also very personal - I guess I will exhibit my photos after I meet someone I can share the intimacy of my work with. By the way, I still haven't done any official collaboration work. I have thought about it several times and I certainly will do it too, one of these days. I'm sort of a wild man, you know! 


Geri:  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Christian:  I want to thank you for this interview that gave me the opportunity to know a little bit more of the real artist you are, Geri. Very proud of your support. And I also want to thank all my talented friends on Instagram, iphoneart, EyeEm and Flickr for their love and support. They constantly bring so much to me. I've been learning so much from each of you guys! 



© Christian Mondot

Find Christian:  Instagram / EyeEm / Flickriphoneart


All images in this feature are copyrighted property of Christian Mondot published on Art of Mob with the consent of the artist. 

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