Laurence Vecten

Before I fell in love with photography, I wanted to work in the music business. I wanted to be a producer. Not a musician or a singer, or not even a member of a rock band, but I just wanted to help bands produce their music. Then, by accident, I came across photography and I now realize that it’s a medium that has always been close to me.

I’ve been thinking about my favorite picture. And to be honest, I don’t have memories of precise pictures. I remember feelings and atmospheres of photographers’ work, but if you ask me if I remember this one picture of a couple with monkeys, I’d be almost unable to come up with Winogrand. It is very difficult to say who my favorite photographer is... because it changes with my feelings, or new discoveries, or even with the weather. These past months I have been very sensitive to Tom Wood, Larry Sultan (it’s been years), Robert Adams, Jo Ractliffe, Carlo Van de Roer, Marcelo Gomes, among many others.

My choice of my favorite picture is a portrait of my grandfather. He died when I was 13, 25 years ago, and I don’t think I can say that I have known him very well. First it’s a great picture. The reasons why could be my personal definition of a great portrait. You could say my grandfather was an actor but he really wasn’t. He has got amazing charisma on this picture. This is how everybody in my family remembers him. Nobody remembers who exactly took the picture, and that’s not important. The most important fact is all those details make it my grandfather. The picture has been shot in a field, close to his house. His field, his land. I was taken during summertime, the best moment for the farmer, wheat harvest. You can see on his face that it’s a great moment for him. I can almost smell the dust and the happiness of this period. On the right there is his car, a white 4L. My grandfather wears his usual cap (I can’t even remember him not wearing this kind of cap). He smokes his cigarette (the stinky Gitanes maïs), you can see his pack in his pocket.

And, of course, I love the 70s feel of this square picture. These 70s colors. A strong shiny blue, with a golden wheat. It was taken in 1972, the year is handwritten on he back of the picture by my grandmother. I’m the one who owns the original, but years ago I scanned it and gave a print to my cousins, some of them were silent for a few minutes when they got it. Just impressed.

What I like there is the accurateness a picture can bear, and the strength a simple image produces. Sometimes I forget about this picture for a few months and when I see it again, it always has the same effect on me. I get proud of my family, proud of my parents being farmers and the place where I come from. It gives me stability and a strong basis.

featured in romka # 7, 2012