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  • Writer's pictureOLIVIER BOËLS

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Over so many years of travel, I have encountered a multitude of incredible beings. I crossed many faces, each one with its history and ancestry. The art of portrait photography has always been an area of ​​photography that intimidates me, even today.

As a teenager, my degree of shyness was very high, it was enough to be in a small group of people I didn't know, to get into a state that held me back.

When I started photography, I bought a telephoto lens, which allowed me to be discreet. I could stand at a relatively far distance to give myself a feeling of comfort zone and of not being seen, at least I thought. These were my first real steps, to direct my gaze on the world around me, in a “proactive” manner.

Years later, in 1999, I was invited to be part of a new agency in Toronto, Canada. One day, one of the members of this agency, asked to borrow my lens and offered me,

in exchange, a wide angle, 20mm, to “test”. The test, actually, was that the lens itself was testing me. I was immediately terrified, when I looked through the lens and discovered that people looked very distant and small. In order to get around this, I realized that

I needed to get really close to people in order to fill my frame. This is how my first “desired” coexistence with fear began. Not easy. But my desire to get to know the world, to get to know each other, grew more and more.

Over the years that followed, this lens brought me great teachings about life, forcing me to talk to people, taking the first step, to be able to fill my photographic frame and portray them in a way that represented their stories well, with the due prominence and respect they deserved. A real therapy. For me, the photo also reveals how I look at people and what kind of encounter, I have with each one of them.

Today, I continue to use a wide-angle lens in 95% of cases. I fell in love. This lens encourages me to enter an energetic and intimate proximity to my interlocutor(s),

a place where good kharmas can be created.

I don't want people to see me as an intruder, or even as a photographer, but as a human being, who also sees them, not as an object in a setting.

I don't try to disguise the influence that my presence has on the scenes I photograph, pretending that no one is seeing me. I try to be careful with how I behave, especially when I am very close to people. I want to be discreet and fully aware, to be able to anticipate scenes and know where to be at each moment, trying as best I can, not to get in the way. Be visible, that is, be an integral part of the scene.

In the end, I photograph to have experiences that will enrich my being, and of course to be able to share with others, through images and narratives.

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