“I am inspired by everything we know and cannot control in nature. Mankind has shifted further away from other species and does not know them anymore”, Etienne Francey tells us. This student from the Vevey School of Photography in Switzerland, is fascinated by nature. In 2006, he bought his first camera and started shooting films. “One day, as I was walking in the forest, I saw a woodpecker in a tree. I wanted to film it, but the result was so bad that I went back the day after, hoping to get better at shooting. And I never stopped going. This was my first animal shot, he remembers. I was different from children my age. Most of them would play football, while I went looking for birds whose names were unknown to anyone but me. It was lonely, but a loneliness I chose, in which I created my own universe”.
An obsession for nature and animals he inherited from his grand-father. “When I started filming nature, and photographing it, I went to my grand-father’s for a few days, to learn about the technical aspects of photography, and get to know the birds’ species”. His granddad was also a photographer, his favourite subjects being the celestial universe – galaxies, planets, comets etc. – and the insects (butterfly scales, fly’s foot, horsefly eyes, etc.) In the field, he tested several methods before finding the most efficient one. “I remember shooting my first deer while running after them. I eventually understood that this was not the way to go”.
To erase one’s presence
Before getting in the field, Etienne Francey listened to what he wanted and had an aim. “I sometimes have a clear idea of what I want to do, I sometimes imagine particular colours and forms. In the field, I try to recreate what suits best my imagination. Sometimes, it all comes together. When I want to capture a toad on a red background, for example, I make it happen, by searching for the perfect place”.
At only 21, Etienne Francey has acquired specific knowledge about his favourite models. “It is important to know the animal’s biotope, its behaviour towards men, even its presence in the territory”. Following this preparatory phase, he then starts scouting. An essential step, to get to know the animal’s schedule, habits and route. “Mammals possess great hearing, and an acute sense of smell. Birds have an impressive vision. You must stay vigilant.” A meticulous study of the environment, always undertaken with respect towards nature’s balance. “I am always careful of erasing my tracks”, he explains. Those cute images invite us to reflect on our environment… A nice and furry reminder!
© Etienne Francey