“With good lighting, an unattractive object could become quite sexy”: Introducing photographer Guillaume Blondiau
The Belgium-raised and London-based photographer knows a good trick or two when it comes to composing an artful still life image.
- Ayla Angelos
- 6 April 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Sometimes there are these pivotal, defining moments where everything just clicks. For Guillaume Blondiau – a photographer who’s originally from Belgium and currently based in London – it was at the ripe age of 17 when his artistic interests fell into place. “At the time, I kind of knew I wanted to do something creative but didn’t know what yet,” he tells It’s Nice That. He was into his graffiti art, which enabled him to meet new people around Europe; one day, for example, he met a guy painting on a trip to Switzerland who showed him a small photo book he’d made. “It was only a simple collection of shots taken with a point and shoot camera but for some reason, it had a big impact on me. I instantly thought that it was something I wanted to get into.”
After returning home from this influential trip, Guillaume immediately applied to a photography school in Brussels. He was accepted, and after his studies, he packed his bags for the UK’s capital where he assisted photographers and learned the ropes of his medium. Various shoots and experiments later, he’d networked well and even made good friends out of it; some of whom pushed him to go out and do things on his own. “Working as an assistant was a great way to see how the industry works and learn everything related to technique and lighting,” he says, noting how, on the contrary, it took him a short while to figure out exactly what type of pictures he wanted to make.
Now working as a full-time photographer, Guillaume can be seen shooting for the likes of Buffalo Zine, Financial Times and Pop. When not working on the more commercial side of things, he spends time producing spookily-composed still lifes which are heavily contrasted and reverberating with a hint of the supernatural. He initially tried out still life photography as a way to experiment, and because he could do it without having to rely on anyone else to produce the image. “Unlike fashion photography,” he goes on to say, “I could just make an image from scratch without having to explain what I wanted to do or convince anyone to work with me. I actually didn’t know or care much about still life photography when I started; I only got to appreciate it after a while working with it. Also, the still life scene got really interesting in recent years.”
As such, Guillaume’s day is structured between personal and commissioned works. One week, he could be retouching or prepping for a job, and delving into research the next. If he’s shooting a personal piece, he’ll spend most of the time at his studio that he shares with his set designer girlfriend. Proceeding to toy with navigating the realms of bizarre stock images, “amateur fetish or hobby photography”, and old photo magazines, Guillaume’s work prides itself on references to the weirder side of things. In fact, the weirder the better, he says, and airbrush art, anime and “deviant-art” also encourage much of his practice.
Once these ideas are in motion – and after pulling any inspiration from muses Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry and Torbjørn Røland – he’ll begin to work on the image-making. First things first, he has to be excited about a project; unless it’s an idea worth pursuing, he won’t spend much time in the studio. Whether a prop or subject, he’ll experiment and embark on the slow process of placement, building an aesthetic and then photographing.
An example of this intricate process is best seen in a piece titled Raspberry. The image sees a blushed berry placed in the firm and metallic grasp of a spanner and is the image he deems as the first he was genuinely happy about making. “Something clicked that day,” he says. “It’s after working on that series that I realised I wanted to explore the fetish element of still life photography. And that with good lighting, an unattractive object, like a spanner, could become quite sexy.”
Many more of his images work in a similar vein – like Celebration that sees an “office party stock image gone wrong”, or Flute Salad that represents his memory of an old music book. Guillaume has a knack for twisting an everyday object into something unrecognisable, and that’s exactly what we love about his work.
Guillaume Blondiau: Breads (Copyright © Guillaume Blondiau, 2019)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.