In conversation with TIFF x Huawei portrait photographer Andreanne Gauthier

MobileSyrup had the chance to speak with Gauthier about her camera preference, her background and her use of light

Quebecoise photographer Andreanne Gauthier served as this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) x Huawei Portrait Studio photographer.

Using a Huawei P20 Pro smartphone, Gauthier captured photos of filmmakers from around the world, including some of the most well-known — and some of the soon-to-be well-known — faces in Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond.

MobileSyrup had the opportunity to interview Gauthier on September 6th, 2018 — the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Below is a version of that interview edited for clarity.

MobileSyrup: How long have you been a photographer professionally?

Andreanne Gauthier: About 10 years. I started with portrait. I did fashion too, but it always been portrait for me, because it’s so much the way I see photography.

A portrait can be everything, it can be very minimalist, very outside, more fashion, but at the end, the only goal is to catch a personality of the artist, so if you don’t have it, it’s not good.

MobileSyrup: What drew you to photography?

Gauthier: I’ve always been in dance before. All my life, I was in dance, so [I thought] my destiny shall be that. But when it was time to pick a career, I was like, ‘No, it’s going to be that.’

I just [thought]…“I love visual stuff, let’s try that.”

Because I didn’t know where to go, so I just on an instinct…started to do photography and i fell in love when I was doing that.

So it was a slow process and when I knew it was that, at photography school, it was forever and ever, it never stopped to be better each year.

MobileSyrup: Do you remember what your first camera was?

Gauthier: It was a Nikon D70s.

MobileSyrup: How long did you use that one?

Gauthier: Just two years.

MobileSyrup: What’s your camera now?

Gauthier: I’m on Nikon too — and now I’m on the D850.

MobileSyrup: Do you have any preferred cameras or settings?

Gauthier: I really love to work on fixed lens. I never use a lot of zooms. It’s a personal choice, and I’m stuck on 50 and 85. And maybe, I’m going to say 105.

MobileSyrup: How would you describe your style?

Gauthier: Because I’m from a background of dance, body language is the most important thing to me, and I’m very, very picky about not feeling my direction, even though I direct a lot.

If everything is so beautiful but there’s [nothing] natural in the body language, for me, it’s not okay, it’s not a good shot.

I think people looking very themselves — human — and there’s something in the eyes, because I direct a lot, they don’t think, so they are completely with me. And my style is natural, raw, slick, pure and noisy.

I love to feel emotion, but in a simple way. Not too much theatrics, just in every little specification.

MobileSyrup: What about your use of light?

Gauthier: It’s so important, as is body language.

Light you cannot create on Photoshop or whatever after. I hate that “Oh I’m going to touch up in Photoshop.”

For me, my RAW is so important. so I’m very, very focused on my light. I love soft light, but with structure. I’m not using a lot of very, very shadow and busy light, because for the emotion I want to give, I need this softness and this happiness in the light.

But I don’t want something flat, so you will always find — you will always see the structure, all the features in the face. So I don’t like to wash them. It’s the middle of structure and softness, and I use a lot of natural light  too — a lot — in my studio.

I’ve got big windows, and I love to play — to structure — this natural light, and I’m used to working in the studio too, depending on the job I have.

I prefer continuous light.

MobileSyrup: How did you become involved with the TIFF x Huawei portrait studio?

Gauthier: I had to work with a person for another shoot, and then one day I received mail and she asked me if I was interested to shoot in the Huawei studio. I said yes, of course, [it’s] gonna be amazing and then we just started a process.

[A] few months later, I’m here.

MobileSyrup: What are the challenges that you faced or you’re facing right now using a smartphone versus a traditional camera?

Gauthier: There’s a lot, but we found a way to make it like I love it. It’s just a touch, it’s not the same.

I spend everyday using my gear, so just my own body language has to change. This is an adjustment that I have to do, and of course I have good results, but it’s not the same settings, and it’s not the same material.

To have both great results, but with different, completely different intent — that’s the main challenge, but we made it. And we are happy of it.

MobileSyrup: How long does it take to shoot portraits using the Huawei P20 Pro?

Gauthier: It’s gonna depend. Sometimes two minutes, sometimes five minutes, but we can say between five and 10 minutes.

MobileSyrup: How long would a traditional photoshoot last?

Gauthier: It depends of the job, but maybe one hour. But in one hour, we will have two looks, three looks, so it’s not the same. We cannot compare, because here it’s going to be a bunch in a short time, but in studio, when we don’t have to stop, I’m going to take more time.

I can say, without pretension, that I’m good on a rush. Because I direct a lot, I’m going to have a shot pretty quick. So I’m okay with that.

MobileSyrup: What will your workflow look like using that smartphone versus using a traditional camera?

Gauthier: I’m gonna use both my gear and the phone, so I will switch between [the two].

I’m going to switch between, so the final image will be the one from the phone.

After that we will load the shot with the phone on the same computer, after that, I’m gonna choose like half and half, maybe like a top four, five and after that I’m going to touch them up,  and after that I’m going to deliver them, so I will use all of my beautiful team to help me do that.

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