Sébastien Pélegrin aka @Seb_Gordon on Instagram, is a prolific photographer who lives and works in the city of Paris, France. By day he works as an art director/graphic designer for press magazines and has done so for 20 years. Outside of this, he walks the streets of Paris capturing the streets, architecture and puddles of this beautiful city using his iPhone, Fuji and GoPro cameras. Seb was also featured in issue 3 of Shootermag and now curates images for the @Shootermag_france feed.
Seb’s work has been a regular feature in many Mobiography showcases so I wanted to catch up with him to find out more about his approach to photography, how he goes about photographing the streets of Paris, his choice of cameras and his puddlegram work.
Tell us about your photographic journey and how you were first introduced to the idea of iPhone photography?
I started photography in 2002 after the birth of my second daughter. I worked for a high tech magazine and I tested a small digital camera by Minolta. When I first opened the images in Photoshop, I was really surprised by the quality of the results. I then started to shoot everyday with this camera. Mainly my children of course, but many more subjects like textures, reflections, skies, grounds… everything around me.
In 2003, I quit Paris and moved with my family to Gascony, in the south west of France to start a brand new company, again, in press magazines. My photographic playground changed from city streets to countryside, trees, sunflowers, fields, cows, ducks and morning fogs. These became my new everyday views.
In 2007 I bought my first DSLR, a Canon 400D with a 50mm f.1,4 and I got another revelation with the results. They were so sharp with gorgeous blur and bokehs.
I then bought my first iPhone in 2008, but at the time I didn’t think that I’d use it as a camera. Late in 2010, a friend of mine told me about a little app called Instagram. At first, I used it with my DSLR shots but after a few weeks I started to shoot and edit with the iPhone.
In early 2013 I returned to live in Paris which is where most my photography work is now based.
You shoot with an iPhone, a Fuji and a Gopro. Tell us about these three cameras and how they compare.
After 5 years of shooting 100% iPhone photography, I bought a Fuji as I started to want more quality and detail in my photos. The WiFi feature of the Fuji let me transfer images quickly to my iPhone. I could then edit all my images on my iPhone. I didn’t want to use lightroom or other software on my mac as I work all the day on them using indesign, photoshop and illustrator, so I didn’t want to spend more time in front of them! One day, I tested out a GoPro and the results were amazing, I bought one and now it’s my best super wild angle camera!
Despite having the Fuji and GoPro, I use my iPhone every day and everywhere. It is perfect for stories on Instagram, puddlegrams (because the lens can be placed just above the water), and very quick shots. I tend to use my Fuji for all my street photography and use the GoPro only for fish eye effects and for architecture. I don’t really have any preferences regarding which I use; they are my team.
Tell us about Paris and what it’s like photographically. Where are your favourite places to shoot?
Just like NYC, London or Berlin, Paris is a huge city. There are many famous places and also less well known places that present excellent photo opportunities. For a typical touch of Paris with architecture and old streets, my favourite places are all along the Seine, from the Bir Hakeim bridge to the Place de la Bastille. Between these places you can see the Eiffel Tower, all the bridges over the Seine (Pont des Arts, Alexandre III…), the Arc de Triomphe is not so far, the Louvre, Tuileries gardens, Notre Dame and more. These are the most beautiful and the most famous places too.
What is it that inspires you about photographing architecture, street photography and puddlegrams/reflections?
My photography must be very graphic, I love symmetry and in Paris you can find all those old buildings with perfect symmetry. I use my iPhone for puddlegrams because you can place the lens just 5mm up above the water. Only a smartphone can do best do this. I also love the way puddlegrams create symmetry when you don’t have it!
About my street photography, I always look to frame a nice composition and wait for someone to stride by into the photo, just to give a sense of the scale of the place.
On the subject of composition, are there any conscious decisions that you make regarding the composition of your photos?
Basically, symmetry and graphic compositions. I spend a long time cropping and validating the photo before editing them. My aim is to look for the right visual elements to illustrate my vision. I have been doing this in my work for 20 years. I look, crop and place images on a page to create a compelling compositional layout.
If you take a look at the Instagram account for @Shootermag_france. I’m the curator for this account, and I try to choose the best of what I love in this feed. Here, you can find my ideas of what makes a ‘well composed image’ ;-).
What apps do you use and is there a process or methodology that you apply to your post production editing?
I always start with Snapseed for a simple edit; cropping; light and colour adjustments, sharpening and straightening. I then go into VSCO for my main editing. After that, I use Filterstorm for little perfections and signature. Sometimes, I will use Darkroom which lets me do some corrections in a specific colour.
What advice would you give people who are looking to photograph architecture and puddlegrams?
As I mentioned before, for puddlegrams, you must be right above the water in order to make the most of the reflections in the water. For architecture it’s a bit more complicated. Your composition must be perfectly cropped, straight and well balanced. This will help to give your image more impact.
What is the greatest lesson you learned on your photographic journey?
When you see a great shot, take it straight away. Don’t tell yourself, “I’ll be back later”, because 5 minutes later, it will be too late…
Tell us the story behind three of your favourite images
I took this one with my GoPro (the day that I tested it out). With it I caught everything around the Place Edouard VII with the statue in the middle. It’s graphic and symmetric too. By the way, this picture won a Grand Prix in a challenge for Belambra Hotels.
This one was taken with my iPhone 6 at sunrise, at about 7am in the morning. The puddle was very small but it made the arch of the tower go round perfectly! And cars give a sense of scale to the shot.
This one was taken with the Fuji. The position of the character is perfect and is in a beautiful striding stance. You can find symmetry too and a sense of scale between the guy and trees.
Connect with Seb Gordon
Also check out VSCO Grid with the username: seb_gordon