FFO: PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT FIND BEAUTY AND HUMOUR IN THE EVERYDAY
Who are you?
My name is Jean-Thomas Drolet-Bouchard, but Tom will do just fine. I’m a 28 years old dude, I’m 1/3 of Stolen Ground, a photo zine publisher, and I guess I could say I’m a photographer of some sort.
Why do you describe yourself to be a photographer ‘of some sort’?
I don’t know, I don’t see myself as a full-blown photographer, more of a guy who snaps photos. But in a way I guess that makes me a photographer then, haha.
Where are you currently based?
I’m originally from Quebec City, but I’ve been living in Montreal for almost 3 years now.
What led you to move from Quebec City to Montreal? Is there anything you miss about not living in Quebec City anymore?
My girlfriend is from around Montreal, I got sick of travelling back and forth almost every weekend. Also, Montreal is kind of the place to be for anything art and design related in the province of Quebec. But since a few years, there’s a lot more stuff that has started to happen in Quebec City, bunch of new bands, new cafes and restaurant, new projects, etc. And even though I see them once in a while, I do miss my friends the most, and the band we had.
What is your current photographic work about?
I don’t think my photos have a theme, or seek to have one. I carry a camera in my pockets at all time and shoot whatever strikes my eye. I try to look for details that generally go unseen.
What sort of camera do you keep in your pockets usually?
Olympus Stylus Epic, in my opinion the best point and shoot anyone could dream of. Wide aperture, fast shutter, fast focus. Just a tiny piece of plasticky perfection.
What got you interested in photography and taking images?
The aesthetic of it. I liked photos and wanted to take some. Some friends started taking basic photo classes during college and I realized it wasn’t all that hard and impossible.
What’s your role within Stolen Ground Publishing? How did you get involved in it?
In SG I guess you could say I’m more of the “technical/print” guy. When we work on a zine, we select the photos all three together, Jon usually starts a layout because he’s really good with matching photos and seeing relations between them. Then he sends it to me and I make sure everything is tight and good to go to print. I don’t have the creativity and “vision” the other two have, but I have a strong print and design/editing knowledge, so I’m the go to guy for anything related to that. We all kind of have our own roles that we took without really talking about it. I also print every zine because I work in a print shop. That’s also kinda how it started, at the time I was working in another print shop and I was making zines, at some point I ran out of my own photos so I started getting in touch with photographers I liked and offered to design-print-publish zines of their photos.
About six months later met Jon in Vancouver when I was on tour and he was tree planting, he was the only person I knew who was as into photos and print as me, so I asked if he wanted to join me. He brought a whole lot of great ideas and really kicked things into gear. Josni was in touch since the beginning, we were following each other on social medias, he knows pretty much EVERYBODY, is a social media beast, has a keen eye for good design, he lives and breath photography/movies/design and he’s just nice to be with, so we asked him if he wanted to jump in and he said yes right away. I think we’re a pretty solid team.
Who are you inspired by?
I’m really not a big photo nerd, so I can’t name drop a whole bunch of photographers, but William Eggleston is the man. Not to sound corny, but I consider my friends to be the most creative and inspiring people. Most of them are musicians, photographers, painters, illustrators, they run labels, put out shows, have PHDs and masters, repair bikes, make zines, etc. And I think that’s amazing and very inspiring.
How come William Eggleston is such an inspiration to you? What do you like about his work, in comparison to any other photographer?
Aside from Dorothea Lange and Vivian Maier, I think he’s pretty much the only famous photographer I know. I love his style of shooting and in some way I like to think my “style” ressemble his. He had a way of seeing the extraordinary in simple and banal situations. And I love the way he used light and colours.
Want to namedrop a few inspirational friends instead?
YES! First off my Stolen Ground mates, Jonathan (@jf.jm) and Josni (@josnib) both great photographers. Also my best pal Alex (@mnchrmvsn) who just started taking photos but has a way of seeing things and framing and snapping at just the right time which gives crazy shots. I love his photos. Also my friends Cassandra (@theboathatneversinks) and Sara (@sara_hini) who about a year ago started the Womanhood Project (@the_womanhood_project), in which they explore the diversity of the womyn body and through a series of very personal interviews, questions what it means to identify as a womyn. Definitely an important and relevant piece of work. About a year ago my friends Audrey (@gentilchien), Florence (@laballoune) and Catherine (@lescroquis) started publishing zines trough this all-female collective called Le Collectif Correct (@collectif.correct). Worth the visit!
What are your future aspirations?
Keep doing what I love and do it more. Shoot photos and make zines.
Why drives you to create zines from your work? What attracts you to publishing?
Zines are fun! It’s nice to wreck your brain a little, see what photo goes well with another one, create an coherent sequence, give it the treatment you want, find a title, print it, stitch it and hold it in your hands. I also like to give/sell/trade them and get people’s reactions to your work. One of the best part of tabling at zine fairs is to get a direct reaction to your photos from strangers. I started publishing other people’s work because I believe there are so many talented photographers whose works deserve to be seen and shared. A lot of people have NO CLUE on how to make a zine and I just want to help them to get their work all over.
Got any ideas for future zines?
Haha I do! But I won’t tell them here, I don’t want to get them stolen. I try to “push the boundaries” of “traditional” zines by doing different formats, using different papers, treating my photos differently, different colours and so on. I think working in a print shop gives me a good opportunity to mess around and experiment with a whole bunch of possibilities. I get to know what the printers/papers can do and I try to exploit that. I just finished a new one called ‘Off/Right’ where I used only blurry “missed” photos I accumulated over the years that I felt were still pretty good, but would’ve ended up nowhere because they were blurry. Might be a bad idea, but I felt like doing it, so I did.
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?
Shoot. Just shoot, don’t think about it. Take as many photos as you want, don’t even think about it. Most of it will be shit, but some will be brilliant. They might not be museum worthy, but if they’re good to you, they’re good enough. Be proud of the good photos, don’t be ashamed of the bad ones. Keep all of them, you never know when a “bad” photo will fit in and become a good one. If you have an idea for a series or a zine or anything, do it. Never stop doing things. If you don’t know how to make a zine, email me I’ll try to help. I can explain to you how to use the basics of indesign. Get your photos out there, help each other out.