Wisdom With Words

Wisdom With Words

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
• 3:22 PM •

Interview: Fashion Photographer Pier-Alexandre Gagné

What does it take to be a successful fashion photographer in Montreal? What kind of skills are required in order to stand out and what to commit in terms of time and equipment? These are questions frequently asked by hobbyist photographers.  Pier-Alexandre Gagné responds based on his own personal experience.
Fashion Editorial Photographer Pier Alexandre Gagné

I encountered fashion/editorial photographer Pier about a year ago at around the same time when I was just beginning to delve into the business of fashion blogging. I have to say that we have both evolved considerably ever since our first shoot together.   Although I have gotten to know and understand Pier’s tastes in photography, it is only recently that we decided to sit down and go into details about his art and the aspects of his work that separate him from the rest.  It is clear that this emerging artist is of a separate league from many editorial photographers. Read on to find out how.

Fashion Editorial Photographer Pier Alexandre Gagné

Daura: Alrighty, let’s get right down to why we’re here! So as we’ve seen time and time again, you have great Photoshop skills.  How did you improve your photo editing over time? What learning sources would you recommend to other photographers?

Pier: To be completely honest, most of what I learned was through experimentation. In my desire to manipulate photos, I would learn something new with each new project. I think this is the best way to go when it comes to Photoshop – just make sure that you achieve something new and out of your comfort zone each and every time you produce a photo. This tool is limited only to your imagination. Of course, it’s important to understand the basics of photo retouching, by taking online courses or tutorials at the beginning, just to understand the basics. Then, just experiment with all the functions available to you. Break the rules to achieve what you want in an image.

After I gathered a ton of retouching skills, I passed a lot of time redoing old photos that I had taken when I first began photography. I really made an effort to perfect my old work. That`s why you`ll see me republishing the same shots in a completely different light. Through experimentation I learned how to edit, and I also got to understand light a lot better.

Fashion Editorial Photographer Pier Alexandre Gagné

Fashion Editorial Photographer Pier Alexandre Gagné

D: How long would you say it would take a starting photographer to get to your skill level?

P: It`s been four years since I started photography, and today my approach is more geared towards crazy or messed up retouching as opposed to just normal captures. In my journey to improve, I touched on a bit of everything – wildlife, landscapes, people…it`s better to touch on everything and find your voice than to aim for something at the start. This is what takes time – finding your own style. Learning the technical skills is not the hard part. It`s important that people see a photo and know that it`s been done by you and not by another photographer. It`s good to have a strong and bold message. So the time it takes you really depends on that.

D: You say that you found your voice in photography. Explain how you evolved as a photographer since you started.

Back in college I studied social sciences, and so I did some documentation with my camera. After that I did landscapes, portraits and clothes. I started doing fashion because it mixes a bit of everything together and is the most interesting and challenging to me. After publishing several photos of a certain style, I decided it was time to improve my technical skills. It was then that I really started to get into retouching photos. After gathering all my new skills, I had the strong urge to go back to what I had previously shot and use what I had learned to perfect those photos. What I do is attempt to see a photo more as a painting than as a real life photo.

Fashion Editorial Photographer Pier Alexandre Gagné

Fashion Editorial Photographer Pier Alexandre Gagné

D: More as a painting – no wonder you’ve produced such masterpieces! How much time would you say you contribute to one photo or one set of photos?

P: I spend about 2 hours for one photo, but I only start once I have the right inspiration for it. I don`t often do “series” for editorials. I think it sends a stronger message when I produce a one-off. This way it leaves more to the imagination of the viewer. He or she can fill in the blanks as to what is happening in the story the photo is trying to tell.

D: Now that we’ve talked photography skills, let’s talk business savvy. Would you say that in Montreal, it is as important to make connections in the fashion industry as it is to possess good photography skills, or will people recognize a good photographer, whether he/she is well-connected or not?



Saturday, November 24, 2012
• 4:09 PM •

A Fashion Shoot with April Wasteland

A Fashion Shoot with April Wasteland

I recently did this creative fashion shoot with a greatly talented friend of mine by the name of Danielle Niko Holmes.  This made it on the “Flickr pic of the day” google app!

It was a lot of fun (as fashion shoots always are) and not to mention very convenient for us to get together for this, seeing as Danielle is practically my neighbor.  During breakfast one Saturday morning, I was expressing my discouragement towards the blog and was explaining that it was due to this feeling I had that I was on a hiatus from posting.  It seems that my studies have temporarily turned me away from my hobby, and in comparison made all of this seem so…inconsequential.   Danielle insisted that I continue with my work.  If I were to paraphrase, it would be, “Just fuck all the haters! This is a blog to inspire fashion lovers, and fashion lovers only.”

Needless to say that I am thankful for people like Danielle who keep me on track! There will definitely be more to come of this shoot, so be sure to stay tuned if you like what you see!

View Danielle’s photography portfolio here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012
• 5:58 PM •

Shooting in the Rain


Usual weekend activities of mine include drinking excessive amounts of coffee, chatting and laughing in the comfort of my home.  I was doing just that yesterday night with my good friends Melissa and Yannick, when we noticed that a massive storm hit our city out of the blue. Buckets of rain, lightning, more buckets of rain, strong winds and dark skies filled the view from my Mile End apartment window.

We had just gotten back from the restaurant and considered ourselves lucky to have arrived home before this mayhem began.  I thought back on Yannick’s hilarious video in the rain and laughed.  I don’t know why, but I watched the entire video and was completely intrigued the whole way through.  There’s something about Yannick’s “WOOO!” cries, heavy breathing and the unsteadiness of his camera as he runs through the streets that is highly entertaining to me.

“You should totally run out now and make another rain video!” I told him.

”Really? Well…I guess I could.  Umm alright, yeah sure.”

“Nahhhh, I was just kidding, we’re about to watch 21 Jump Street and you’ll be soaking wet and super uncomfortable while you’re shitting your pants laughing.  Korean Jesus wouldn’t approve.”

Okay, so I didn’t actually say that, but it would have been cool.

I then remembered some of his amazing city shots in the rain (This kid must really like rain, eh?). I suddenly had the urge to create something awesome, and what better person to ask than Yannick, a happy, talented and spontaneous guy with a camera for a right hand, who is able to find beauty in absolutely anything that crosses his path?

“Do you wanna do a quick shoot?”

“You wanna? Okay, LET’S DO IT.”

“Are we doing this? Okay, let’s go!”

“Okay hurry up guys, it’s gonna stop raining!” Melissa squealed in her cute high-pitched voice (Haha sorry Mel, I couldn’t help but use the verb squeal).  Mel stayed behind to play with her iPhone as Yannick and I proceeded to get ready as fast as possible so as to not miss the storm.

I grabbed my super bullet-embellished fishnet cut-out leggings by Rehab and my Urban Outfitters navy and gold branches tank that I wore to the bar the night before.  In the accessories department, I knew that the only option I had in order to complete this seriously edgy look was my pair of Costume National Lace up Combat Booties and my favourite necklace, a chunky gunmetal-coloured chain  from Loft Couture.

Out we go, and 15 seconds later we are already SOAKING WET, and I`m FREEZING COLD.  Yannick is protected by his anorak and he’s got a grocery bag over my Olympus PEN1.  People are running every which way with umbrellas and coats, looking for shelter.  We start shooting.

Stares of passers-by add to my discomfort as I attempt to pose in this crappy weather.  “Okay, so pose like you’re cool.  You’re a bad girl in tights and you are the shit.  Yeahhhhh,” I tell myself.  LAME, right?

“You look like a zombie in these pics,” Yannick reluctantly states.

“No, I look like a prostitute…”

“Yeah…you do.  You do look like a prostitute.” Ugh.