P H O T O : @laurence__bouchard on Instagram | Untitled |
The first posting of @laurence__bouchard in the @RainStations Gallery was untitled but spoke so much of RAIN.
@RainStations owes a lot to @laurence__bouchard! When you first enter the virtual world of Instagram it seems unfathomable. This was @Rainstations April 2016. Where do you find the really cool shots? In this case of Rain. Then your eye catches something. The first time I saw this B&W photograph, I was struck! The 13th post. A solitary figure walking towards the light, seen through RAIN, his figure reflected in the drops. It says so much in it’s powerful simplicity. It does not define an exact time or place, yet the RAIN describes the moment. Something also about a narrative of the solitary mission of a photographer, with their lens, overcoming the creative challenge of photographing RAIN practically, then beautifully.
What I then found extraordinary was the openness and generosity of @laurence__bouchard to share all his RAIN photographs with a very new @RainStations. The ultimate ‘Sharer’ of Rain! So excitedly I posted, over 60 exceptional images of RAIN. The inspiration just magnified! The graphic coolness, the dynamic, surreal colouration and identifiable classic ‘style’ are just some ways to describe this extraordinary collection of RAIN by @laurence__bouchard.
Seeing there was a strong connection that @laurence__bouchard has with RAIN, I was intrigued to find out his personal perspective of it.
With Many Thanks and Kind Permission, I am here able to write a transcript of the interview with Laurie,
M: What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of RAIN?
L: Sound. Also, in the rainy season here in Japan you get the bell crickets singing in the rainy season – even in a place as urban as Shibuya.
M: What is your first memory or memories of RAIN?
L: An early memory that has always stuck with me was the sound of RAIN on a caravan roof. When I was young, my family would go and stay at various campsites around the the South of the England and, it being England and summertime, it often rained a lot… But there was something very soothing and peaceful about that sound… I still love the sound of RAIN at night – especially when I’m inside and that exaggerated sound in a caravan makes it all the more special.
M: RAIN has featured in so many of your photographs, there is clearly some connection you have with it – which of it’s qualities do you seek to portray and why?
L: Well, I guess there are at least 3 qualities I seek to portray.
The first is neon – a big inspiration being Blade Runner (one of those few films I’ve watched over and over again) and also Wong Car Wai’s “In the mood for love” and trying to get those beautiful neon, RAIN soaked images. About 7 years ago I moved to Shibuya, Tokyo and often, when I came home, I’d be struck by how beautiful the neon looked reflected in the RAIN…
The next would be that kind of classic umbrella in the RAIN image. The umbrella (in it’s present form) has been around for ages – kind of amazing when you think about it. And, for me, there’s something about the umbrella that gives images a timeless quality – especially in B&W shots.
The third would be reflections – in puddles, through raindrops on windows etc.
And perhaps a fourth would be snow.. Though I’m not sure if @RainStations would be happy about adding a snow quality?? I view snow in a pretty similar light as I view RAIN but, being that much rarer to come by (particularly in cities like London & Tokyo) it’s kind of elevated to a holy grail status when it comes to photography in cities. RAIN photography is beautiful but with snow, the city is completely transformed.
M: 🙂 Snow! Essentially we are of course looking at the same ‘material’. But in a different form, the effects too on emotions, landscape and responses are, I agree, are quite different! 🙂
In many of your RAIN images, the umbrella becomes almost an iconic symbol of the RAIN, even when the RAIN itself is invisible. How do you see the ‘umbrella’?
L: I’ve become kind of obsessed with the umbrella. As I was saying before, I love the timeless element it lends photos. It works as a great prop in a similar way to someone smoking a cigarette. I think it also gives photos a bit of mystery. I’m sure it won’t be long before some new technology finally fazes it out so it’s great that its still here as it is. One of the cool things about living in Japan is a lot of women use an umbrella to protect themselves against the sun so, even when it’s not raining, you can find them. I’m amazed sometimes though – I’ve seen women using umbrellas when it’s not raining but it’s cloudy and you know it’s not gonna RAIN so there’s no chance of RAIN or sun but still the umbrella. Is the UV really that bad??
So basically I see the umbrella as this kind of timeless object.
M: You are based in Japan, I believe….? Continuing on with the ‘umbrella’ topic… Thanks to the excellent book : RAIN by Cynthia Barnett, I understand that prior to the 1950’s there was a proliferation of ‘wagasa’, handcrafted umbrellas which the artist Stephen Kohler described as private skies hovering over every age and class of person. Do you come across these much now in Japan? What do you think of ‘wagasa’ or ways that people keep RAIN off themselves?
L: Yep, been based in Tokyo for over 7 years now. We actually have one, but it’s a copy not an original, that we were given by a monk when we went to visit the moss garden in Kyoto.
The original wagasa umbrellas were made from bamboo and washi (Japanese paper) so they were pretty fragile and had a real beauty about them and their fragility only added to that. You can still buy them but they aren’t used in everyday life these days. Japan seems to have a real love for the fragile, but that’s another story.
The modern wagasa are still really beautiful and many are used both for RAIN and sun. They are great for photography as they often have beautiful symmetry and strong colours.
M: You once told me that before you got into photography you used to hate RAIN! Can you tell me more about this?!
L: Well I’ve always been a sun lover. And I don’t think that will ever change. Though I think that was borne out of spending most of my years in the UK. You know how it is, you wake up, it’s a beautiful sunny day and sometimes those days are magic. But in the UK (as I think you know) it’s not so often like that. So I pretty much hated the RAIN (except at night – then it was kind of ok if I was out – but I always liked it at night, when I was inside).
That all started to change when I got into photography. Slowly I started to realise how RAIN created a beautiful atmosphere and dramatic scenes. And even after it had stopped raining (especially if the sun came after really soon) the RAIN had left all these extra dimensions to photograph. So I went from hating the RAIN, to checking the weekly forecast to try and make myself free (not organise anything that night) if it was gonna RAIN. Having said that, it does still sometimes piss me off – especially if it’s freezing cold!
Strange as it might seem, it actually RAINS more in Tokyo than in London. But it’s a much more concentrated, intense RAIN – especially in the rainy season. Sometimes it’s like someone’s forgotten to turn the tap off… it just goes on and on. Whereas in the UK it felt more like a constant on/off drizzle. I prefer the RAIN here. It’s like it RAINS hard and gets it out of it’s system..
M: How do you prepare yourself to take photographs in the RAIN?
L: Not very well! Last year I was out with my SLR and it got pretty wet and the lens needed to be repaired after. I shoot with both the iPhone and an SLR. The iPhone 7 is actually great in low light and wet weather but when it’s really dark and there’s a bit of distance, it’s difficult… I’m still researching ways to protect the SLR when shooting in the RAIN and I’m wondering whether to just get the waterproof casing so I can just do whatever and not worry about it.
M: Many of your photographs feature dramatic geometries light and architecture…..how do you view architecture and RAIN?
L: Well I love architecture and to photograph it but I think you need to give it a human element to make it interesting. I view architecture and RAIN in a pretty similar light as I view architecture and light. Some locations look amazing in both the light and the RAIN – but give off completely different moods. But it depends entirely on the location on what mood is conveyed. Some locations, I feel, only work in the sun or vice versa – I think an important factor regarding RAIN shots is whether you’re gonna get a reflection and that comes down to the material & light.
M: I came across, in an Interview you did with Mobilography, that photography is something you do in your spare time, when you are not teaching….From a Teacher’s perspective, for a moment, are kids allowed to play in the RAIN?….how is RAIN regarded at school in Japan?
L: Definitely no! Though I don’t teach kids anymore. Japan is pretty crazy when it comes to rules. People here go to the doctor when they get a cold and have annual heath checks. I think the annual health check is probably a good thing, but it’s pretty different from the UK from what I can remember. I think if they let kids play in the RAIN here their parents would start having heart attacks. There’s a definite lack of freedom in Japan and a lot of parents are uptight – but maybe that’s also a modern thing. But allowing kids to play in the RAIN – no way!
Having said that, you often see really young kids (maybe 6 years old) riding the metro to school which you don’t get in the US or the UK I believe.
M: What is your favourite RAIN?
Probably a slightly warm rain that isn’t too heavy! I’ve tried shooting in typhoons and it’s fun but it’s not easy and you can guarantee getting soaked.
@laurence__bouchard Inspirations about Rain.
Road to Perdition – Sam Mendes / Conrad Hall
Blade Runner – Ridley Scott / Jordan Cronenwerth
Shawshank Redemption – Frank Darabont / Roger Deakins
Erik Satie – Dance de Travers from ‘Pieces Froides’ No.1
Album : After The Rain … The soft sounds of Erik Satie. Piano, Pascal Rogé.
The Doors – Riders On The Storm
Ann Peebles – I Can’t Stand The Rain
M: The RAIN @laurence__bouchard, not coincidentally, seems to possess certain parallel Blade Runner qualities : Neo-Noir, Glamour Graphics, cool romanticism, neon feasts and architectural zest. Though there are particular qualities which differ, I believe…. that of capturing the solitary and a calmness amidst the restless city.
Both however rendering classics of a time.
Thank-you so much for sharing your RAIN here too!
Please check out the stunning Instagram page of @laurence__bouchard featuring Tokyo by night, by day and in the RAIN through the eyes of a Photographer consciously pushing their creative limits to great effect!
@laurence__bouchard is also part of Apple’s new “Shot on iPhone 7” Campaign.