Amazingly, Galibert considers himself pretty new to photography. Even more impressive, he managed to build up such a stunning portfolio without picking up his camera as often as you would think. Last year, he only used it for five weeks. Originally from France, Galibert loves to travel and connect with people in some far away places like Tajikistan and Pakistan by taking clear, vivid portraits.
Through his busy schedule of studying, caving and canyoneering, Galibert took a bit of time out to share a story about a kid with incredible eyes, mention a couple of photographers who inspire him and tell us why Pakistan is his favorite place.
LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
OG: Well, it looks a bit like patchwork! I will try to be brief. I’m 39, living in a medieval village in South France, close to where I grew up. I have done many different jobs in France and abroad and just started studying to become nurse. I still have two years to go before I graduate.
LPO: Do you remember one particular moment or event that made you fall in love with photography?
OG: I’ve been enjoying photography for a while. I particularly love Sebastião Salgado and Francesca Woodman. In 2007, I bought a D80 and started to take pictures in Pakistan which remained until last year on my hard drive.
Then I had some good feedback from friends. This is why I thought I should do something with those clichés and started to work on them. Eventually, I published them on Flickr. It felt as if I had turned the light on something and I fell in love with photography, a world of infinite possibilities.
LPO: Which aspects of your photos make them stand out as yours, elements that have developed over time to become your creative “eye”?
OG: It’s difficult to answer; maybe the subjects and places I have chosen. In reality, I try to work more on photo stories. I mean, I get an “original” subject and work with it. I also try to look at everyday beauty.
LPO: What are your main objectives as a photographer? What do you hope to accomplish or communicate through your body of work?
OG: Well, I don’t consider myself a photographer, because I have made some other professional choices. I’m just doing photography as a hobby, for leisure. My main goal is to experience some pleasure with photography. I want to share and show how people live, what’s going on elsewhere. Of course, I started photography recently and there are so many ways to explore.
LPO: You’ve taken lots of portrait shots, especially during your travels in Tunisia, Tajikistan and Pakistan. How do you approach people and what is the typical reaction? Is language an issue? Have you ever had a negative experience?
OG: How I approach people, well, 90% of the communication is non-verbal. You go to meet someone with a smile and you will have some chances to get one in return. This is a typical reaction even if it’s not working every time. I am working with a 24/70mm lens, and I must establish a contact for my portraits. It is a choice and I have not had regrets about it.
I always ask people, talk to them and as much as I can I try to give them the pictures later on. Recently I’ve bought a small printer. It is pretty efficient. This way, I can give the pictures immediately. Some people refuse I take pictures of them, so I try to ask again. If there’s an issue, I’ve just to keep the portrait in my mind! I have never had a negative experience.
LPO: During your travels, in which place did you have the most fulfilling experience in terms of photography and why? Anywhere you wouldn’t return?
OG: I’ve been traveling in many places, but I just started last year to travel with a photography goal. As for the places I know, they are all different. Tunisia is famous in France. The opportunities were so numerous and the people so sweet when you take a bit of time with them, it was just real pleasure.
Tajikistan was also a great experience. There are no tourists at all. I would like to come back to this place. As for Pakistan, I have spent one year there, and it’s just my favorite place, such an incredible country. It is really a true human experience. I intend to go back there again next summer, and take more pictures of course! There are no places I wouldn’t return that I can think of.
LPO: You’ve got some vintage style shots of Tunisia. Can you tell us a bit about this Flickr set, how you created these images?
OG: About the vintage, it’s just a feeling I got. I wanted to have a new way to work with my photos and I used Photoshop. I have to try new ways of taking pictures, work on them, and explore the possibilities.
LPO: A good majority of your work focuses on people, but you have one set specifically devoted to doors. Talk a bit about what draws you into a shot, what inspires you to pick up your camera.
OG: For now, I am not using my camera a lot as I’m involved in studies. When I have some free time, I go caving or canyoneering and it takes a lot of time. So, last year I used my camera for only five weeks. Sometimes I take it like the day I visited an old village in South France, where the doors where lovely.
LPO: Tell us a story about one of the people you have photographed that made you want to take their picture.
OG: One of the people I have photographed who inspired me to take his picture was a kid in Kande, North Pakistan. I was walking down the street of this village, surrounded by breathtaking mountains when a kid with incredible eyes appeared. I got my camera. He was a bit afraid and curious, and then I shoot his face. I really love this picture for the expressive face.
LPO: What is the one question you wish I would have asked you and how would you answer it?
OG: Well, why there are not so many portraits from France? I promise you to change that soon! 😉
For more of Olivier’s work, see his Flickr stream.
For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.