This month on Photo Agency News we introduced the photographers collective Luna with the news of their first magazine. Here we visit them again in an interview with Luna member Karl Blanchet (photo) who gives us some background on the collective and his own thoughts on photography including the fact that he still shoots film.
Karl Blanchet (LUNA) Interview for PhotoAgencyNews.com
When did you sell your first image and where was it published?
I sold my first story in 1999 to the Monthly magazine “L’Autre Afrique”. It was a joint-project with Elisabeth Blanchet about the sects in Togo.
How did Luna come about and why the name?
Someone of the group said that Luna meant in spanish “mirror”. We all said fantastic. Since then, I checked a few times on dictionaries. I am not it really means that.
How many photographers are in the collective?
We are seven. But the group has evolved over the years since its creation in 2003. Some people left the group and we recruited new photographers. We have the specificity of being based in different countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Senegal and the UK.
Describe Luna in a sentence?
LUNA is an international collective of photographers who aim to bring a personal, human and political perspective about our society. In other words, our images and stories are about passions and feelings.
Are your images represented by a photo library?
Our images are distributed by Rea in France, Contrasto in Italy and some of us are represented by Zuma in the US. New contracts are under negotiation for Germany, Portugal and Brazil.
Would you choose one of the large photo agencies?
We would have no objection to work with large photo agencies.
Press agencies are for us a tool to distribute our pictures. Today, unfortunately, large press agencies took a big share of the market and squeeze the smallest ones. I don’t really think that working with large press agencies make you lose your soul. Luna offers us group dynamics. We share experience, press contacts and expenses and we support each other through advice and feedback to improve the quality of our stories and images.
How do you make sure picture desks know about Luna?
We send to all our press contacts in Europe a monthly newsletter informing them about our new features, recent publications and where our photographers plan to travel. The newsletter has had a very positive impact. They really appreciate this tool. At the individual level, we also send our images to some picture editors when we know they might be interested by the story.
How much of your time is put into maintaining your website?
The website is updated every week. But our website is much more a showroom than a tool to sell our images. We are thinking about improving our website to make it more technically appropriate for picture editors.
What camera kit do you have?
I am really not a technicain. So I need cameras that make the job for me. I have a leica, a CanonF4, A Mamiya and Canon 5D. My range of lenses is also very limited. I only use 35mm and 50mm lenses (except for the Mamiya and the digital camera).
Where is your next commission?
I am currently discussing with an international NGO to cover a story on child trafficking. This should be in December either in Albania or in India.
What kit do you take on foreign commissions?
KL I travel very light. I take two cameras (the digital and the F4) and one lense for each camera. I never use flashes.
Any nightmare experiences with customs?
Any travel tips?
Still use any film?
Oh yes. 75% of my work is done with films. But I am now very interested by the flexibility and quality of digital cameras. Digital work will probably become this year more improtant.
Do you exhibit your work as Luna or as indervidual pohotographers?
Both of them. However, we alsways introduce ourselves as Luna photographers.
Where did Luna last exhibit?
We organised a Luna exhbition last year in Belgium. I exhibited some work this year in Beyrouth about Palestinian refugees. And Eisabeth will exhibit a very interesting work about prefabicated houses at the Dissenters Gallery in London (www.dissentersgallery.co.uk) between 4th and 26th November.
What magazines and newspaper title do you read every week?
Le Monde, the Sunday Times, the Observer and Time Out.
Which websites do you visit reguarly?
BBC, www.mooncruise.com, www.sophot.com, www.revue.com and in general photo press agencies. Vu agency is my favourite one. This is very inspiring and gives new ideas of stories and images.
Whats new at LunaPhotos.com?
We have just launched the new online magazine RoundLuna that will be a bi-annually magazine in a more attractive format and presenting photojournalistic and artistic work from collectives. We are looking for
financial and technical partners for this new project. RoundLuna is on the
home page of Luna home page