Mis à jour le 6 octobre 2013 par Michel Puech
On June 5, 2012, the official portrait of François Hollande, the recently elected president of France, will be unveiled. The photograph was taken by Raymond Depardon.
For the past few weeks, the Paris photo world was abuzz: would Raymond Depardon take the official portrait?
Some observers wagered that Hollande, whose campaign was geared toward young voters, would opt for a young photographer, like Stephane Rouet or even JR.
But instead the honor went to one of the living legends of French photography, the youthful septuagenarian Raymond Depardon.
Depardon co-founded Gamma photo agency with Hubert Henrotte and Hugues Vassal, and became a master not only of photography but of documentary film as well. His most recent film premiered this month at Cannes. By choosing the gardens of the Palais de l’Elysée (the official residence of the French president), Depardon follows in the footsteps of Bettina Rheims, former president Jacques Chirac’s official photographer. Philippe Warrin had returned to a solemn library setting for the portrait of Nicolas Sarkozy, like Gisèle Freund for her portrait of François Mitterrand. The award for originality goes to Jacques-Henri Lartigue for his slightly off-center, close-up portrait of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
Raymond Depardon proved daring in another way, by relegating the Palais de l’Elysée to a distant halo of light and greenery that evokes a small French village with its church bell, an image of the peaceful power of the François Mitterrand’s 1981 Presidential campaign. A knowing wink into the rearview mirror of history?
“I had half an hour. I wanted the light to be bright, very strong, then I softened it using a method that’s a like one used in cinema. My idea was that I didn’t want to have him pose […] I asked François Hollande to walk towards me. First I tried with a Leica, then a digital camera, and finally with my old 1963 Rolleiflex that’s always brought me luck. And a picture that camera took, in 6×6 format, turned out to be ‘the right one,’” Raymond Depardon told Les Inrocks.