You didn't study photography at school or university. How did you teach yourself?
"I loved to read photography magazines and books and learnt a lot from them. When I bought my Canon EOS 5D Mark II
, I read the manual and found out all I needed to take pictures. For me, photography is not about which exposure mode you use; it's about what you want to show. That's what matters the most."
How do you persuade people to be photographed?
"I simply introduce myself and the people I work with, then explain the reason we would like to know more about them. I also share my previous work with them. It's really important to explain your project and to reply to their questions. It's all about trust. People feel touched that you're ready to dedicate months to cover a part of their story."
How often do you meet your subjects?
"I like to meet my subjects many times and I become really obsessed with the people I photograph. I could travel thousands of kilometres just to document something that is happening in their life. I like to follow and discover everything about them. I may have a camera with me all the time, but that doesn't mean I use it all the time. You get to know when it's the right time to use it – and when it isn't."
What do you like about shooting long-term projects?
"For me, long-term projects are the quest to understand everything I'm running away from: an ultra-connected world, driven by social media and immediacy, where everything tends to be the same. When I'm doing these stories, I isolate myself from my own world so I can dive inside the topic and cover all aspects. It's very important for me to make sure that my photos, and the story, reflect the lives of the people I'm photographing as much as possible."