Saturday, 17 November 2012

The pearls of Paris through the lens of Pierre Berlot

I don’t pretend to be the world’s most specialised expert in spotting the perfect talent but I will never forget the first moment I saw Pierre Berlot’s photography. I think we were sitting in his funky, bright Paris apartment, having a chat and a beer with our respective partners when he began to show us a selection of his latest photographic work. Very quickly I was nothing less than flabbergasted. Photo after photo portrayed impeccable composition. The work was breathtakingly emotional, beautiful, and mesmerising, pulling me in like a magnet and I simply wanted to see more. Pierre had shown me the city I called home for the last five years through frames I’d never seen before, despite the fact that I’d walked by them a million times!

I’m very lucky in that Pierre has agreed to do a feature interview for Nest of Pearls. It’s incredible. In preparing the final article below, translating and re-reading his words while immersing myself in his photography, I just get goose bumps. So do read on, enjoy, and please share across the seas. For the very first time Nest of Pearls releases an interview in both French and English. This was done so that I could embody the passion and devotion in Pierre’s own, honest and eloquent words. I do only hope that my translation does it justice. Please scroll below for interview in original French version.

Images courtesy of - Pierre Berlot
For further inquiries of Pierre's work I invite you to check-out his very cool website.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

How long have you called Paris home?
I never really considered Paris home. This is probably why I roam the city with a sense of fresh eyes, despite the fact that I’ve lived here for almost 10 years.

What are the things about Paris that have won your heart over the years and that you absolutely love?
As with all “big cities” what stands out for me is the very aspect of permanency, comfort, assurance, and of “history”, where all moments drip into; the fluid, mineral state of the Seine and then us, living and moving around it. 

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

This chosen selection of your work embodies Paris like I’ve never seen before, what motivates you to capture such unique moments?
It’s precisely this uniqueness that attracts me. Each moment is in movement, has a life & presence of its own all while existing amongst the age-old history that I refer to above, and even this age-old setting itself inspires me.

There seems to be a real emotion between the photo-taker (you) and the moments captured, I guess you must feel this also as you work. What drives this emotional connection and what is your personal interpretation and experience of this emotional connection?
It’s true, one must be in a certain state of mind to be able to capture “beautiful” photos. However, I never walk out of the house with a specific idea in mind, and it is rare that I take any photos in the first hour of my walk. The itineraries of my walks are also often unplanned. To be able to see these moments one must really be infused into the city, its streets, the unique moments where people’s lives cross over, the noise. It’s this very state that allows the senses to be awakened, allowing for a connection to be made between one’s thoughts, thoughts that follow their natural imaginative flow, and the chances and coincidences of the meeting of unforeseen moments.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

You capture very secluded moments, almost stolen moments, how would you describe this ingredient of your photography in your own words?
As I said, I walk at length, and take my time. I do this alone, letting particular emotions, sentiments and feeling be born of their own accord. Because we cannot just disassociate ourselves from who we are, how we react, think and feel, it’s natural for me to be interested by these moments that surround me, that are connected to who I am and what I’ve lived. This being said, no event happens identically the same in two single different moments, so one must always be listening and looking out at their surroundings. Many of my “clichés” have, of course, a certain meaning for me but do not arouse the emotions for the viewers of my work. I don’t have a specific emotional intention in my work that I expect all to feel in the same way, what is important is that there be emotion, albeit different from one person to the next.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

When and how did you decide to pick-up a camera and explore your desire for photography?
I’ve always loved to travel, and it’s pretty easy to find great shots of all that one sees in the course of travel. What is more difficult while travelling, however, is to find that which we feel binds us to the moment, and hence making it more difficult to capture emotion. I think this is what drove me towards the genre of photography that I do today.

What motivates you to see the world as you do through your lens?
Without a doubt, it would be photographers such as Doisneau and Ronis, who started to portray the human outside their living dimension and rather as an aesthetic photography subject. I’m also inspired by Impressionism, where feeling and emotions are embedded in the heart of the works, and architecture, such as the art nouveau philosophy and style, which makes the link between the living and the work itself. Overall, however, my inspiration comes from that which feeds my inner-self from my own experiences and surroundings, without reference to a distinct style.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

What do you love to do when you’re not taking photos?
I love to travel, everywhere and anywhere. I also rollerblade. This is a great way to roam the city and come across the unique meeting of moments at yet another pace and rhythm to that of walking.

What is one of your favourite escapes in Paris (café, restaurant, theatre, etc.), and why?
Each quarter has its gems but, as with everyone, I also have my personal fetishes and I particularly like the jam-packed Parisian brasseries, such as l’Industrie and Chez Prune, as well as the smaller and cosier human-sized concert halls such as Le New Morning & Le Bataclan.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

There are two photographs (the two just below) that particularly stand out for me, could you briefly explain the mood and the circumstances of each moment that inspired you to capture these moments?
The first photo you refer to was taken from the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. The view of the city from this point is, of course, beautiful, but what I see, beyond the beauty of the obvious view, is a privileged vantage point from which one can observe the madness and the tension that is taking place around the feet of the Eiffel Tower. The pause captured in the photo is in clear contrast to the activity that surrounds it. In this very same fashion, the second photo lives in the thick of a busy tourist season in front of the Louvre’s Pyramid, and is nuzzled between busy queues and excited photo-takers and their almost acrobatic posers. Amongst all the energy and action this stolen siesta struck me as completely free, a sense of serenity divorced from the surrounding madness by the music that we imagine the listener to be delving in. Not too dissimilar, the bike in the frame also plays on the sense of contrast to that of the open-top tourist buses, the crazy metro and the busy Parisian traffic. 

What camera and objective/s do you use?
I photograph with a Nikon D5000. For the wide angles I use a 35mm and for the close-up shots I use a telephoto lens 55-200, or 18-270 when travelling. I hold the filter density at neutral for the long pauses.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Original interview in French

Depuis quand considères-tu Paris comme étant ta ville ?
Je n'ai jamais considéré Paris comme étant ma ville. C'est pourquoi je la sillonne toujours avec un regard presque neuf même si je vis ici depuis près de 10 ans.

Quels aspects de Paris on conquis ton cœur et qu'aimes tu par dessus tout dans cette ville?
Comme toutes les “grandes” villes pour moi : un aspect immuable et  rassurant, vrai, “historique”, dans lequel s'écoulent des fluides : la seine minérale et nous vivants.

La sélection de tes photos incarne un Paris que je n'avais jamais vu, quelles motivations ont abouti à figer ces moments uniques?
Justement, le fait qu'ils soient uniques, en mouvement au milieu du décors séculaire que j'évoquais avant et parfois le décors lui même !
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Il semble y avoir une vraie émotion entre toi, photographe, et les moments capturés, et je suppose que tu dois travailler dans cet état d'esprit. Qu'est-ce qui conduit à ces émotions et quelle est ton ressenti personnel de cette “connexion” avec les instants photographiés?
Il faut en effet être dans un certain état d'esprit pour faire de “belles” photos. Je ne pars jamais avec une idée en tête et il m'arrive rarement d'appuyer sur le déclencheur avant une bonne heure de marche, au hasard. Il faut pour pouvoir voir ces moments, s'être imprégné de la ville, des rues, du temps des gens croisés, des bruits. Les sens s'éveillent alors et la connexion se fait entre les pensées qui suivent leur cours et le hasard des rencontres.

Tu captes souvent des moments intimes, presque volés. Comment décrirais-tu cet aspect de ta photographie avec tes mots?
Comme je l'ai dis, marcher longuement, seul, fait naître des sentiments particuliers, on ne peut pas se dissocier de ce que l'on est. Il est donc naturel pour moi de m’intéresser à tout ce qui se rattache à moi, à mon vécu. Mais un événement ne sera pas vécu de la même manière à deux moments différents. Il faut donc savoir rester à l'écoute de soi et de tout l'environnement. Beaucoup de mes clichés ont un sens pour moi mais ne susciterons pas les mêmes émotions pour l'observateur. Mais ce qui importe est qu'il ait une émotion. Il n'y a pas d'intention dans mon travail.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Quand et comment as-tu décidé de prendre ton appareil et d'explorer ton désir de photographier?
J'ai toujours aimé voyager. On peut assez facilement retrouver des images de tout ce que l'on a vu au cours d'un voyage. Il est plus difficile en revanche de retrouver les émotions, les lieux importants pour soi, ceux qui restent. C'est je pense ce qui m'a conduit à essayer de faire ce genre de photographies.

Quelles sont tes sources d'inspiration?
Bien évidemment tous les Photographes qui ont commencé à s'intéresser à l'humain sans sa dimension vivante plus qu'esthétique : Doisneau, Ronis... L'impressionnisme qui met les sensations au cœur des œuvres, mais aussi en architecture l'art nouveau par exemple qui fait le lien entre le vivant et l'ouvrage... Mais dans l'ensemble tout ce qui me nourri depuis toujours sans distinction de style.

Quels sont tes autres passions ou hobbies?
Les voyages principalement, n'importe où. Roller, un autre moyen de sillonner la ville au hasard des croisements et à un autre rythme.

Quels sont tes lieux préférés à Paris?
Chaque quartier as ses intérêts mais comme chacun j'ai mes habitudes et j'affectionne les brasseries Parisiennes bondées : l’Industrie, Chez Prune, les salles de concert à taille humaine : Le New morning, la Bataclan.
Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Photography by Pierre Berlot (via

Deux de ces photo ont particulièrement attiré mon attention peux-tu expliquer dans quelles circonstances elles ont été prises et dans quel état d'esprit? (Photo des trois bancs, et photo de l'homme en train de prendre sa sieste, avec vélo / 12 et 13).
La première est prise depuis le premier étage de la Tour Eiffel. Le point de vue y est beau mais c'est pour moi un point d'observation privilégié de la foule qui se presse et s'agite entre les jambes de la Tour. Cette pause dans la journée des touristes montre un contraste avec l'activité alentour. De la même manière, et toujours en pleine saison touristique, entre les queues de touristes, les passants et les pauses photo plus ou moins acrobatiques devant la pyramide du Louvre ; cette sieste m'a semblé dégager une sérénité absolue coupée de l'agitation par une musique que l'on imagine écouter le dormeur, et le vélo qui contraste lui aussi avec les “open bus”, le métro et le trafic Parisien.

Quel matériel utilises-tu?
Je photographie avec un Nikon D5000. Pour les plans larges un 35mm et pour les prises de vue rapprochées un téléobjectif 55-200 ou 18 -270 en voyage. Des filtre densité neutre pour les temps de pause longs.

For all enquiries regarding Pierre Berlot's work or contact details please check-out his website.
Nest of Pearls and Pierre Berlot hold all copyright to the the above article and photography.
Please reference and link-back accordingly to the artist and this article if sharing this story.


  1. Amazing...such beautiful photography and what a great interview Bis!

  2. biseragondevska12 December, 2012

    Thanks Stace, and so glad you got a moment to check it out. He really is talented :) Can't wait to catch-up, see you soon lovely...

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