EK Interview: Guillaume Kayacan

Guillaume Kayacan is a Belgian photographer.  He’s completely honest and very present.  His interview addresses nudity, ideal form, cigarettes and more.  It’s thought provoking, so check it out!

What was the first camera you ever used?  Do you remember it with fondness?
A Canon EOS 350D. Loved it. It’s like a baby.
What do you think about the transition from film to digital photography, and the subsequent resurgence of 35mm?  Where do you stand in the discussion?  How long do you think it will be before film is unnecessary as digital lenses and resolution capture the same quality or better?
Well you get a total different feeling from a film than from a dslr.  Look, now we spend hours trying to avoid the too clean/perfect look from our current cameras, trying to emulate some film looks… That says it all. I do it myself. Look the color palette from Annie Leibovitz, Norman Jean Roy etc.
It just looks better in most cases for me. It’s got more presence. It’s an interpretation. On my personal work in black and white I tend to shoot at higher ISO with my dslr… On my personal work in color I tend to avoid the too “digital” tones.
I read books about color through the ages, about color manipulations etc… Colors are… So important. It’s a full time job I’ll say.

art blog - Guillaume Kayacan - Empty Kingdom

Where do you think the line between photography, nude photography, and erotica lays?  How do you take advantage of that line to your benefit, to push the limit of your art?
Erotica suggests nude shows. I rarely show the whole body really visible. I don’t do nude. At least I don’t think so.. Some of the images on 3BM are suggestive indeed but I hope I get more of that sensitive/emotional part than just the erotic one.
The only nude photographers, current photographers at least I like are Marc Lagrange, Damon Loble and Jan Scholz. They blow my mind.

How do you know that a model is right for the photo that you want?  Are you an intuitive person?  Can you tell from someone’s voice, or from just observing them a large amount of their character?  Or do you agree with the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”?  Or is it possible the truth lies somewhere between the two?
Well it doesn’t start like that, that’s the funny thing. Most of the girls I shoot are sent from various model agencies here in Belgium. I just “test them”. It’s a test shoot. For some, it may be their very first time in front of a camera so it needs some really specific attention. And for some others, with more experience, it’s … well we’re there to get some cool pictures, let’s try to have a good time as well. 99% of the time it’s what’s happening. Then I really like some models so we shoot again later on. And again. And again. I think about Paulien from Models Office, Alice and Vicky from Dominique Models, Aurore from Flagmodels etc…It’s just so great to shoot one more time. The connection is already there.
I’m very intuitive indeed. Yeah sometimes I get my opinion quickly. But one of the best things about what I do is that it’s always full of surprises and I keep on being amazed. I do agree with the saying. And the truth always lies somewhere between the two. It’s everytime something new, different. Another people, another story, another sensibility.

art blog - Guillaume Kayacan - Empty Kingdom

Some of your photos are posed, while others look candid.  What do you think about these two different moments, with a posed photo you can tell a story of your own choosing, but with a candid photo sometimes captures the things you didn’t plan for, the realest of emotions, how do you see the two different types of photography?  What do you think the pros and cons of each are?
90% of the pictures on 3BM are staged. Well. The funny thing is I always give a big window to the model. I rarely say, ok, now do EXACTLY this. I usually give some direction and that’s it. I let the model taking all the room. Cuz it’s what matters the most to me on my 3BM images. Though sometimes I can direct precisely when I got a really precise image in mind. I take candids of things I see. Friends, lovers, concerts, people that matter to me. I should get a smaller point and shoot camera such as the yashica T4 and shoot much more of these. Which I don’t do enough to my taste. There’s no pros or cons between candid and staged and the other way around. It’s different kind of images. Staged you got the control of everything. Candid you just take what you live, what you see. It’s you, what’s happening around you.

art blog - Guillaume Kayacan - Empty Kingdom

What do you think of the representation of the ideal woman and that of the ideal man?  How do you think your work is supporting, contradicting or addressing that ideal?  How do you think the models available to you enable or combat that ideal?
Well I think it’s rubbish. The ideal representation for me would be to shoot somebody living. breathing. thinking. feeling. A good or bad person. Just something alive, pure.
Again the models I shoot comes from the model agencies. But there’s a great diversity. Different bodies, minds… I don’t think my pictures shows that specific ideal you suggest.  Except models I shoot friends, lovers, people who I share something with for a short or long period, artists… But the thing is… The most exciting subject I’ve shot so far is a character. Something built from the scratch. With a story written.
Who needs my images, my interpretation to look alive. It’s an amazing playground. It’s so difficult too. Look for the monkey pictures in the archives…

art blog - Guillaume Kayacan - Empty Kingdom

How do you decide the wardrobe for your subjects?
On 3BM it’s mostly model’s own. I ask to keep it simple. Cuz too much textures/layers wouldn’t fit well with that kind of overall simple images.  Simple backgrounds, simple light, … Everything has to be at the same level. Otherwise it would be disturbing. I like shirts. See through shirts. bodies. jackets.  No logos etc.

What is so romantic/enticing about cigarettes and cigarette smoke?  Why do you use cigarettes in your photographs?  What response do you hope to illicit?

Usually I don’t like taking pictures with a cigarette. Cuz it’s too obvious. Most of the time not used in the right way. Easily cliché.
Sometimes some models ask to do some but I never say yes. Except with Stephanie and Dominique. Cuz I knew it would work so great. And it did.
But what I really think is a cigarette on a pic, there’s big chances that it will make the pic looking overdone, fake.  In some cases it helps. If you got a talent in front of you. A writer, a musician, an actor etc. Cuz they already got so much presence.
art blog - Guillaume Kayacan - Empty Kingdom

Why do you shoot in black and white?  What do you gain with the loss of color?  Have you ever experimented with any other polar opposites, blue and orange, green and red, yellow and purple?  If no, why not?

I started 3BM cuz I stopped releasing pictures online for a while. I wanted to get a clean headline for a diary aswell. And back then I started to being less and less happy with my own colors. I needed some time to experiment with them.  And I did. 3BM helped me in two ways: showing different kind of works while I was learning how to “cook” some really great colors. What do I win on 3BM for the loss of color it’s the drama enhancing. That you don’t get confused by tones. Just focused on what you try to show. It stand out easier that way. It’s more timeless too.

I love blue and orange. Not so much green vs red or yellow vs purple. Just a question of personal tastes I guess. But hey, again, we’ll see that in 5,10 years.

Where are you based out of?  How do you like it?  How does it help you as an artist?
Mostly in Brussels, Belgium. Born and raised. I love this city. Memories, family, friendships, … It’s a cool city to grow up as an artist.
Brussels is the capital of Europe aswell as being like a village. Everyone knows everyone. It’s easy to build stuff, relationships with people.
Sometimes it can be too small too. Thankfully when I started photography I traveled a lot to London to shoot drum’n’bass and grime artists. I still do. Meeting new people, seeing other places… other stories… it’s all really exciting.
I’m gonna focus a bit more on Turkey now, I’m half turkish and my family lives in Istanbul. I’ve met some cool people there too and it’s definitely a city I want to be in for a while. Don’t know when. But I will.

art blog - Guillaume Kayacan - Empty Kingdom

Name three inspirations.  What have you taken them and how do you see their influence in your work?
Annie Leibovitz. Her work, her story, her mind and vision. I’ve seen everything, read every book possible about her. My own vision changed after reading her book “At work”.
Greg Avau, he’s a graphic designer and musician. He made me grow as an artist. He made me pushing my limits.
Carole Congos, she’s an incredible person, as strong as clever. Then my friends. For everything. Everything. A few photographers too but it’s different I think.

What are you currently working on?  What’s next?

As I type this I’m working on a new series of portraits with Wes Borland, he’s a visual artist and musician. He’s in Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns.  We shot two years ago and I find him really inspiring and talented. I’m really looking forward the shoot it’s in a few hours in Amsterdam. Right now I’m doing the few last bits of homework. I’m typing down some ideas, directions and some details I wanna shoot. I’m really hyped about this.

What’s very next is the new promo for Aeroplane. Then building my first personal photo series this summer. I work on the concepts with a close friend of mine, Luca. He’s a D.A. It’s basically a story we’ll decline in 5 pictures.
It will needs a large amount of time and energy. But I think it’s time I build something with my images.
art blog - Guillaume Kayacan - Empty Kingdom
Would you rather have incredible sleight of hand or great gymnastic ability?  Why?
Great gym ability. Cuz It wouldn’t hurt me.