Saturday, April 3, 2010

Photographer Jean-Jacques Salvador


Jean-Jaques Salvador is a photographer who goes much, much further than the view found in his objective. With dazzling use of combined techniques, he manipulates the quarry of his hunter's eye to achieve a blushless beauty that isn't all innocence. He plans, interprets, arranges and associates before and after aiming his camera for results that always fascinate.


You make reference of several artists in your work  – Watchmen is dedicated to photographer R.E.Meatyard. What inspires you most, the outside world or the imaginary world ? How do you work?

Often I am inspired by works of the past (painting and photography) to create my photographs.
When I respond to a painting, its beauty and what it evokes, stimulate my imagination
and give me energy to express myself in photography. At other times, it's the meeting of a place or a person that acts as this stimulus to make a photo. To sum up, the works of the past permit me to conceive a new deductive image. On the other hand, the meeting with the outside world sets off a more spontaneous non- premeditated process.

These examples of the artist's pairings form what he terms "sociable" diptychs.

To look at your site, your art often seems to allude to a story. What is the place of narrative in your work?

An important aspect of photography is its interplay with the real. By its nature photography records the real mechanically. Now, to express my own sensitivity, my ideas, I need to breath into it my way of seeing, so I divert fom the real in an obvious way. I reformulate it. Reality remains relative: a work is interesting if it shows a marked aspect of reality  Even when poetic, a work that touches me and makes me passionate, tells me something. It provokes sensations and emotions. It makes memories come rushing back as well as thoughts that had been buried. In this way, every work, even abstract, remains narrative.

Narration remains the method of introduction, or of invitation that seems to me the most accessible way to approach a work - and the most instuctive. It may not be the most universal way, nor the most immediate, and it's not the least perverse, but narration is a key that allows us to receive a work.
If a work is to touch us, it must speak to the senses. Narration is a way to open the perceptions to reach the inside world. The poetic, the beautiful concern the appearance of a work.


Some works have a staging that is apparent, others undergo a technical treatment which is very elaborate. You do not seem very interested in pictures  "from life."

The technical treatment is there to distill the image content and to make it more present to our senses. It contributes to the pleasure of seeing and to being fascinated by an image. There is a capacity of enchantment that has to seize the spectator in the world of images. Each photo receives the technical treatment that I find the best adapted to it. I have taken many photographs from life, perhaps there are too few on my site. What doesn't interest me in the life shots is the documentary- the anecdotic. Photography is the medium I have chosen, but the 'photographer's good eye' isn't enough to express myself.


What made you choose the subject of tarot cards?

It was a fashion designer who introduced me to the Tarot. There is practically no complete photographic version of a full deck of 78 traditional Tarot cards. I was immediately captivated by their iconographic richness and by the initiatory journey the game proposes. Provoking thought through a sort of game is certainly a good thing. So I oriented my interpretation to the “path of life” aspect which asks a question with each card and I used a single character who undergoes a metamorphosis from card to card.


You are clearly an excellent photographic technician. Could your share a bit about the multiple techniques that you use?

Photography is historically linked to its different inventions. Since the beginning of the 19th century, these inventions have shaken up each other, being drawn by the marvels of this new medium supposed to supplant painting and by the lure of profit. In fact, there are numerous different processes of obtaining a photograph. The range of renderings offered is just wide as for printmaking . I draw from these possibilities to find the rendering that interests me.

 When I created Tarots, I observed the icons of Andreï Roublev and I chose to make these images in black and white treated with gold then tinted again with gelatin.For the architectural series Connexes, I chose to make the images with platinum which permits finding the grain of stone and concret.


I made Moons with Ambrotype techniques which allowed me to obtain a the silver mirror finish I found well adapted to a representation of the great night star.

Jean-Jacques Salvador is currently working on a book which will accompany the exhibit of 
“Maisons Lecaron” which is scheduled for next September. Next year he will be part of an exhibit organized by Anne Cartier-Bresson which addresses alternative photographic processes.

Many more examples of the photographer's work
can be found on his generously illustrated  site,  Jean-Jacques Salvador.


  1. What thought provoking questions and answers. The photographs definitely reference a past. The photographer's ability to go within his own story and embellish gives the piece a complex reading. I find myself falling right into a story whether it is the photographer's story-I don't know. the Tarot is particularly fascinating. pgt