Professional photographer Cendrine Marrouat’s journey is unique compared to the majority of other professional photographers. When she started, she knew absolutely nothing about photography, especially what makes a good shot.
But in 2009, she went to Syria accompanied with an old Canon point-and-shoot camera. Once back home, she shared a few of the photos from her trip on a now deceased blog. To her surprise, a couple of months later, a magazine contacted her to get permission (and pay her) to feature one of them in their next edition. The photo was never used in the end, so she moved on to other things.
Things only started to click in 2010, while she was in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. After her trip, she looked at the photos she had taken at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and one of them really stood out and haunted her for a while. She decided to use it on the cover of her fifth poetry book, titled “Five Years and Counting. A Journey into the Mind of Soul Poetry”.
She says “people kept telling me how much they loved the photo and magazines offered me money to give up my rights on it. I was also asked if I was a professional photographer. I said no to everything, of course. But I realized that photography may become a viable option for me”.
She spent another four years educating herself on photography, looking at photographers’ portfolios, and sharing her (unedited) images online. The feedback was very positive and several photographers encouraged her to create her own website and sell her prints. So, she listened.
The interest in her photography has kept on growing to the point that she has released three photography books since 2015.
She often jokes that photography stalked her until she was ready to let it in. She says “for most of my life, I saw myself as an average person taking average photos with an average camera”. How times have changed…
Cendrine, where are you from?
I’m originally from Toulouse, France. But I have called Winnipeg, Canada, my home since 2003.
What genre of photography do you specialise in?
I am a digital photographer specializing in nature, black-and-white, and closeup images.
Describe your style of photography?
I love focusing on the little details I see. Every time I go out to take photos, I give myself a goal. For example, one session will be about light, another one will be about clouds, leaves or flowers. Other times, my mind is focused on water, minimalism, or the geometry in forest paths. It really depends on my mood.
I have recently started taking photos of storms or stars at night. But I am not very good. I just like a good challenge. It’s fun. Over-processed photos, with exceptions of course, are not my thing. I edit my shots minimally. But I like contrast, especially in black and white shots, and the vintage look.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just released my third photography collection and book number 10!
Life’s Little Things: The Quotes, is a collection that pairs images and words of wisdom to inspire people’s daily life. It is an invitation to reflect on the human condition and our never-ending connection to nature.
We live in a very negative world, so the photos and words are intended as a balancing act. I wanted to create a space that encourages people to reconnect with themselves, think more positively, slow down their physical pace, and find their inner rhythm. To find out more click here.
What is your next project or assignment?
I have been working on the same concept for a while. It’s called “reminigrams”. (I coined the term.)
I have a passion for old, black-and-white photography. Tintypes and daguerreotypes make me very emotional, probably because they tell stories from a past that I unconsciously crave. Two years ago, I started looking for tutorials on how to emulate that type of photography digitally. But I quickly realized that it would be an impossible feat to achieve.
When I got as close as I could, I decided to create my own style, called “reminigrams”. Basically, the word is a combination of two ideas: ‘reminiscence’, which stands for a memory or the act of recovering it; and ‘-gram’, a suffix of Greek origin meaning “something written” or “drawing”.
Each picture in the series depicts a scene from a past that could have been.
Are there any photographers whose work/style you admire?
I think most nature photographers love Ansel Adams. My heart skips a beat every time I look at his photos. The strong contrast and textures are amazing. I’m also a huge fan of Nazir Ekhlass’. This young man documents daily life in Afghanistan. The simplicity of his work is something I wish I could emulate.
What is your favourite memory from your experiences?
Even though I did not take photos professionally in 2009, my trip to Syria certainly was my favorite memory. It’s the most beautiful country I have ever seen. I am still moved to tears when I think of what is going on there.
What’s the biggest photographic challenge you overcame?
I am very shaky and badly coordinated. Photography has allowed me to focus on the subjects rather than my small handicaps. But I still find it really hard to take photos of moving subjects. I actually try to avoid doing it as much as I can. However, my tripod and wireless shutter are great helps and I am improving slowly but surely.
What’s in your camera bag?
My Nikon D750, two lenses (AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR and AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED), a wireless shutter, cleaning cloths, a spare battery, a neutral density filter, several SD cards, some money and my phone (the Long Exposure Calculator app is wonderful to figure out shutter speeds for long-exposure shots). I also always carry a tripod with me.
What advice you would give anyone who is starting out?
Learn the basics but don’t worry about breaking the rules sometimes. Let your vision be your guide and experiment to your heart’s content. Emulate other photographers’ style only to understand your own.
Any pitfalls they should avoid?
Do not compare yourself to others. Avoid taking criticism personally and be supportive of other photographers.
Lastly… if you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?
I am already doing all the things I have ever wanted to do. I work as a social media blogger and trainer, author, and French Instructor. I have released 10 books and a spoken word CD. I also wrote two plays.
All images by Cendrine Marrouat. All rights reserved. No usage without permission.
Interview by Kav Dadfar.