Fabien Baron in 6 incredible photographs
You've seen his fashion campaign designs, but have you ever seen the art director’s beautiful landscape photos?
Fabien Baron understands the divisions that arise in the creative industries. “I’ve always felt that because I’m a successful designer in the commercial world, being an artist is not authorized for me,” he says in his new book, Fabien Baron: Works 1983-2019. “Everyone has a sticker on them, and mine is Commercial Artist. So the work I’ve done is purely a form of me. I spent all my life doing both, but I’ve kept this side of myself very quiet.”
That quiet work generally takes the form of beautiful large-format land and seascape photography, which Baron has shot over the past four decades.
“For years, the minute I had free time I would take my 8x10 camera and just go look at the ocean in the Hamptons. I would take pictures by the shore,” he says in the new book. “I did my first one in 1982, the last one a couple of months ago. It became a therapeutic thing - a process that allowed me to go back to my origins. I took the sea as a subject matter, simply because it was very minimal, very simple - just drawing the energy from it.
While, in his professional career, he focussed on cool fashion campaigns and icy supermodels, in his private work, he also zeroed in on an equally chill subject matter.
“I started to go to Normandy, Corsica, and elsewhere - and eventually ended up going to the far north, where I saw icebergs for the first time,” he explains. “I knew at once that I would have to go back again and again to look at them. For my seascapes I was doing long exposures - from one minute to five or even ten minutes - so the water, the sky became one, melting colors into one another like a painting."
It isn’t a straightforward thing to fit a trip to the arctic in around magazine art direction and international ad campaigns, but Baron found one fashion brand – the Italian fashion house Moncler – wiling to sponsor a trip to Greenland, and he hopped on board.
“We embarked on an adventure for a week with tons of equipment and a big plan. Everything was planned and organized in advance,” he recalls. “Movie lights were out of the question as they were too big, so we opted for very powerful flashes that we had tweaked to get more power. And the whole shoot would have to be done from boats: one boat where I’m taking the picture, and the other boat for the lighting.
"We had to bring a huge generator aboard because of the powerful flashes. You could hear them pop like firecrackers when I was shooting, eight of them at the same time! We blew up a couple of packs, too. But I got the images I wanted. We captured the scale. I love when landscape becomes overwhelming.”
To see these photographs alongside many other, more public images created by Baron, order a copy of Fabien Baron: Works 1983-2019 here.