Writing a story in pictures
Christophe Renodeyn has been resident photographer of Psy-Fi since the festival moved to Leeuwarden in 2014. Ever since he was twelve and his grandfather gave him his old camera, he has been taking pictures of nature, food, and people. But his favorite? Festivals. We managed to talk to him just before he left to Tribal Gathering in Panama.
There’s something special about festivals. There’s a very strong energy. People are free. This is the purpose of a festival of course, to come closer to yourself. I think, I hope, that this aspect is also reflected in the portrait work I do at the festival.
How do you proceed at a festival, do you make a plan?
It really depends on the festival. Some, like Boom Festival, go on 24 hours a day. You need to make a selection, check the line-up. Clearly that’s one of the advantages of Psy-Fi, the music stops at one point and I can cover most of the day program. Sometimes I take my tripod for a walk at night to take pictures of the forest or the water, things that I don’t have much time for during the day. And in case my wife joins me, I try to take a little time off to enjoy the festival.
Is that possible? Can you turn off your photographer’s eye?
It’s certainly not easy for me to walk around without a camera. And if I have the camera with me, I can’t say ‘let’s take a two hour break’. When I work, I get into a certain flow. During the first hours, the opening ceremony, everything is moving slow but afterwards the energy starts building up. The energy of the dance floor, the music, the people. When I take a picture of a person, I connect with him or her energetically. When I get into my flow, I look at things differently. Photography is a matter of lines and light. Consciously or unconsciously, I see the lines everywhere, I imagine where I would place a person, and so on.
Over the years I’ve learned to take it easier, take a step back. Reality is what you create at that moment. When I look at, for example, a kid playing at the beach, and I get down on my knees to take a picture of him or her, there may be 186 other things happening behind my back that I don’t see. What you see in the pictures is actually my story, I write it as I walk around the festival. You will always miss most of what’s happening. When I just started, this was frustrating for me and I would make days of twenty hours. Madness.
And working at the festival is just the start.
Exactly. I take between 800 and 1000 pictures a day, so when I come home I need to make a selection. When someone’s dancing vigorously, I will take about ten pictures. Ideally, you keep one. Then I edit the light, the colors, I want to make the photo album look like the pictures belong together. For every hour I take pictures, I need 1,5 or 2 hours for editing.
What’s your most beautiful memory of Psy-Fi?
That’s a hard one. Very difficult to say. A very nice moment was that one sunset I once photographed. With that blue-red sky and those little sheep clouds. I took the pic standing on a bridge, decoration was floating on the water and I had a very nice view of the islands, the white tents. The light was phenomenal, everything just came together perfectly at that moment.