Lagrange's work has been praised by critics and collected worldwide. He has showcased his photographs through (solo) exhibitions, from Europe to the United States. His "Extra Large Marc Lagrange" show took place in Graz in 2012, occupying 3000 square meters. In 2011, "Maison Lagrange" introduced more than 240 artworks to the public, many of them unseen. The retrospective lasted half a year. Several books have been published under his name, including Polarized by Ludion (2009), Marc Lagrange 20 by Lido (2011), XXML The Book (2012), and Diamond & Pearls that has been launched in 2013 in 80 countries by international publisher house teNeues.
Can you share your early experiences on how you start your photography career?
I started taking photos when I was about 13 years old. My very first camera was a Kodak Instamatic 25,
a small camera you could get by saving up and exchanging the capsules from Fanta (lemonade) bottles.
My main subjects were my parents and my immediate environment. I'd go to the local photographer who would develop
the film and print my pictures. When I turned 18, I started developing my black-and-white film myself;
these were mostly images of nature and people I'd encounter on the street.
Many of your images that I find striking are shots of subjects staring directly at the lens.
To me, it's like a reminiscent of daguerreotype photographs from the 1800s,
except the subjects carry a sensual and modern vibe.
Do you have a certain predisposition for composing those images in that way?
Not really, but I think there needs to be contact and eye contact is rather important in my work.
The gaze should follow you, wherever you might be standing.
That's why I'm always on the lookout for models/characters who emanate that kind of strength.
That said, in my last series "Hotel Maritime", I took on the role of voyeur, trying to give the images more open-ended feel.
In the past, you shot predominantly on large Polaroid media.
Are you still able to continually source those films now that Polaroid is no longer in production or have you moved on to other formats and if so, what type of format are you currently shooting with?
It's sad that the large-format Polaroid 804 and 809 are no longer produced. I still work with large format film though
(max. 20x24 inch) and I also use the collodion wet plate process, as an alternative;
harking back at the roots of 1860-1900 photography… that search for imperfect perfection.
I, of course, also regularly work with the most recent digital cameras, like the Leica S and Hasselblad H5d,
but when I want the most beautiful images, I turn to analogue. It just immediately adds that particular atmosphere.
Let's talk a little bit about the immaculate lighting style in your photographs.
Do you prefer flash or continuous lighting when it comes to setting up the moody atmosphere in your shoots?
Well, if it's an atmosphere you're after, it's better to use continuous lighting.
You need to build a film set and model your lighting, whether it's direct or indirect.
You play around with different options, colour temperature, or different light sources. I try to get all of it right before I shoot,
so that there is little or no need for modification during postproduction.
Your new book, "Hotel Maritime, room 58". How did that concept come about and can you please share an interesting anecdote from that shoot?
The location is real... it's in Antwerp, where I also live. A friend of mine owns a guesthouse and I used two of the rooms there.
When I saw those spaces, I immediately started organizing the first shoot.
"Colours Nailed To The Mast" was the first picture I took there. That picture had quite a "Hopper"- quality about it.
Once I'd found all my models and actresses, I decided to shoot an entire series there. A funny anecdote…
about two weeks after I finished my shoot there, Mario Testino was staying in the room where I did the shooting.
Unfortunately, I was on holiday… It would have been nice to ask him if he fancied participating in the shoot. Next time…
Colours Nailed To The Mast - Hotel Maritime, Room 58
How much did additional prop styling contributed to the atmosphere on the set?
Every set has to approach near-perfection, which is why we hunt down the right props to give the photo that finished look.
It could be anything from a certain type of car to a small pistol, innocuously lying on a windowsill.
I work with a team on these details.
Going Off Another Track - Hotel Maritime, Room 58
Which is the toughest location you have ever shot in and why?
Maybe when you have to take culture and religion into account… For instance, shooting in Marrakech or Zanzibar is not always a given…
If you had carte blanche access to any location in the world, where would you shoot?
There are so many top locations in the world. I like decadence, locations that manage to titillate the imagination…
Luxurious private dwellings, extravagant settings… Castles, those over-the-top villas on St. Barth.
I also often feel drawn to out-door locations: the Grand Canyon…
Right now I'm working at a lodge in the Masai Mara, where they're reconstructing a 1920's camp.
I reminds of Peter Beard's photos. He shot here during the 80's.
You frequently post model casting-calls on social media, in different cities where you shoot your projects.
Is this how you generally cast your models or do you use traditional methods of booking through agencies
and talent management?
Usually it's a mix of both. We do pre-selections through model agencies, in the cities where I'm working.
I am, however, open to working with people who are starting off their modeling career and who send me their portfolio.
If/when they get through the first selection process, I will invite them to the casting.
Once those models are in my database, and if it "clicked" between us, they will inevitably be back…
Let's talk about your upcoming Year Annual 2015 calendar,
are these images shot specifically for the calendar or culled from your archive of previous work?
I composed the calendar as a last minute project for a specialty printer.
Considering the size of my archives, I decided that this was a project I'd be happy to work on,
and I selected 12 pictures specifically for it.
Towards the end of the year, we plan on printing another international publication.
What is the highest price your work has ever sold for and which image was it?
At this point, the highest price for a piece of mine is €65.000. It was a huge print of Icarus.
What else can we look forward to from Marc Lagrange in 2015?
As I mentioned before, there will be a new book. I'm also working on two international themes:
one in Pietrasanta (Italy) and a second one, which focuses on more mature models.
The working title is "Forever 18", but this is a massive project which will probably only be ready by 2016.
I'm also working on a rather extravagant series, shot in an utterly outlandish location in Antwerp…
By Man Sumarni