Interview: Midnight Digital

Christophe Dessaigne is a French artist who lives in the south of France, in a small town called Perpignan, near Spain on the Mediterranean coast. His creations are open doors to fantastic and dreamy horizons where digital photography serves the fanciful imagery of surrealist photomontages. His universes are desolate, vast and insubstantial. Gigantic scaled structures rule the landscapes, dwarfing human beings to the size of ants. His post-apocalyptic kingdoms, equally poetic and terrifying, are visions of the end of the world. His work has appeared in cover art book and CD covers in Europe, and has recently been featured in Advanced Creations and PSD Phoshop Magazine. His photographic visions are invitations to remote and chimeric territories. A travel into a mysterious journey.

Who or what influenced you to become a photographer 
I've always been attracted by images. When I worked as a journalist for a local newspaper I used to work with photographers. It's probably my first contact with this media. I think I'm doing photography because I like to create stories and atmosphere. 

I love the awesome sense of desolation and loneliness in your images, was there anything you can think of that inspired this or where you just naturally drawn to this type of image. 
I remember when I was kid I watched Planet of The Apes, the first movie. At the end of the film there's this cult scene : Charlton Heston is riding a horse on the vast deserted beach, the camera's slowly moving backward revealing the Statue of Liberty ~ wrecked and emerging from the sand. That specific scene was a blast for me and it's still probably my main influence (with movies like Blade Runner). It is one of the most creative and impressive post-apocalyptic sights ever. 

You seem to have a running theme of one lonely mysterious character who is often right in the distance. How did this come about or what gave you the idea 
Kind of same answer as above. Reality is boring me. My main topic is to create strong cinematic visions and sceneries. I'm recently trying to move out from "the one lonely mysterious character" because now a lot of people on Flickr are trying to imitate this and this is boring me.  

A big part of your work is obviously the types of scenery that you use, how do you go about discovering and deciding on locations. 
If you have a good location then you have 80% of the final image. The rest is "only" a matter of patience and skills. Find the location is the most difficult part of the job. But it's also very exciting. I spend a lot of time scouting good locations. It could be very frustrating when you're back home after one day on the road without anything on your memory card. 

Your images have a fantastic other world quality, can you talk a bit about how you achieve this, for example do you use a lot of post production and composite images or is it more about finding the right location and doing most of the work in camera 
Actually it's all of these. Sometimes people think some of my pictures are heavy processed, but it's wrong. And sometimes some of my pictures which look more simple are in fact far more complex than they look. Basically I'm trying to do good pictures. Well exposed and framed. Then I try to move the image into something "unreal" with photo editing software. I always work with music on. It's very important to me. Without the music I can't do anything. I also try to not have the full control of the image. I know where I want to go, I figure out -more or less- what will be the final result or at least the mood I want to create but I like sometimes to get lost in my creation. The image has it's own life and mystery. 
Your work is very creative, and I would say in the realms of fine art photography. Is this something you find you can earn a living from and if so how do you make that possible, for example, do you sell prints and books, do commissioned work or something entirely different.
I'm a semi pro photographer. At this time I can live from my photographs but I'm a bit insecure about photography. I'm always thinking it might stop. Probably this state of mind keeps me creative. Beside photography I have a regular job. But photography takes me a lot of time. I work for publishers doing book covers, but also for rock bands creating booklets and CD covers... Most of the time customers buy from me (or directly from my photo agency) images. People also ask for specific requests and commissioned works. Then I have to create what they want while keeping my own style and ideas... 

For all the gear heads out there, would you mind giving us a brief run down on the equipment you use to make your images. 
I work on Canon with several lenses : 50mm + 17-40 mm + 70-200 mm + 8mm + 10-20 mm (my favourite lens). Regarding the editing part I work with Photoshop and Lightroom and a Wacom tablet. 

What is your favourite bit of kit and why. 
10-20 mm sigma. I love wide angle. It gives a real cinematic mood. 

How did you learn your craft, for example did you study at collage/Uni, have a mentor, teach yourself or maybe a combination of these things. I learned by myself. I don't have any mentor. My main inspirations and influences come from the cinema.  

Why is Photography important to you 
Well it brings me money lol. More seriously, photography (like painting, drawing or whatever) is a creative media and it's something that is necessary in my life as a expression form. Living without any artistic expressions would be something so boring. 

What are you interests outside of photography
A lot of things. I'm a real geek. I love cinema, reading sci-fi/horror novels. I collect rock CDs (I have more than 2000 Cds home). I'm also into 80's pop culture. I like to watch documentaries. Scouting and exploring abandoned places. I love to play boardgames with my friends. I live in a country where sea and mountain are very close, so I like hiking in the woods and mountainside... 

Could you tell us a little about your lifestyle, what is your average week like. 
I spend my whole week checking the weather reports to see how the weekend will be to take pictures outside lol. Actually I live in a very sunny country where it could be difficult to have a cloudy sky. I'm cursed lol. Beside this I'm plotting evil plans to raise the Great Elder Ones from their dark lair where they dwell for ages. Full time job. 

A common problem now is image theft on the internet, do you ever have problems with this and how do you deal with it? 
Unfortunately yes, I know this problem. Actually I'm more in trouble with people who are trying to copy some of my images or use them on Facebook or whatever. There's not so much I can do. It's part of the game 

And finally, any advice for people just starting out. 
Do not try to fit in, always try to be yourself. It might be the most difficult task in a modern society, but you never know where it might lead you. Art can take any shape you want, as long as it touches somebody’s soul. 


I'd just like to say thanks to Chris for doing this interview, please go check out more of this amazing photographers work....
Midnight digital on flickr

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