INTERVIEW / Marc Prevot
Interview Marc Prevot
In this, our first newsletter, and in all subsequent letters we will be publishing a
series of short conversations and memories from people who worked with and knew Romain, both professionally and personally.
Our first choice is Marc Prevot.
Marc is founder of the ArtCodec Foundation and Executive Producer at ArtCodec, an Amsterdam based post production studio.
His work consists mainly of color corrections and the production of large format pigment prints for artists, photographers and collectors . Besides this he is frequently involved in the making of specialist books for museums.
“A rather unique first meeting” is how Marc Prevot began this conversation.
In the spring of 2009, I was working at the time with Kleurgamma, that was considered to be one of "The last of the Mohicans” of the larger photographic laboratories. We were in the middle of building and renovation work and I met Romain whilst surrounded by mess and noise and yet in no time at all we were debating the pros and cons of analog versus digital photography.
Romain came with the request to work on his digital retouching and colour corrections - but on one condition that my approach would be ‘old school’ HOWEVER he added: if the new technology gives better results do not hold back on using the new methods, no sentimentality or hassle of ‘everything worked better in the good all days!!!’
It was exactly that condition -which became apparent later- that was so very similar and close to whom Romain really was; not just as vision maker and dedicated music lover but also as a human being- essentially classical with a modern ’twist’
Interested in everything.
We spoke of everything, and that spun the spectrum of the Mathematical Theory of Fermat to digital audio quality, and then further to color bit depth and gamut - more my area of expertise. This both surprised and pleased me, as next to his deep and fundamental knowledge, as well as passion for the Fine Arts, he was totally not adverse to ultra modern techniques, something which given his education and background, you might not have expected. His interest in things that were ultra modern was genuine - absolutely nothing, out of politeness, was hypocritical.
This was somewhat new for me: a client for whom you had to perform, but one with whom you could discuss the art form behind the techniques with passion and fire. Romain was undoubtably someone who always tried to learn something from you, always inquisitive and open minded.
My role as a post-producer
In our working relationship and collaboration Romain always, without exception, gave me free rein. He was always open to my methodology, even when, technically, it was beyond his understanding. He remained vigilant and constant in his viewing of the images and I did my best to keep the technical explanations as simple and as transparent as possible for him. His sound and in-depth knowledge of film, scale and light, was a joy for me. I used digital tricks that appeared very modern but actually were based on what one did in a dark room in the 1970s. For example the making of digital density masks.
Formerly we used to have to ‘fiddle’ with contact film , now we can do it digitally. Working with Romain this was easy to say and do - half a word is all that is necessary
Then came Italy..
We all know that Romain was busy for more than a decade with his ‘Italian plans’
Even after Romain eventually really did physically make the move, creating a new situation, we still worked together. Although we had to use remote desktop software to share our computers' content there was the warm invitation to come and work in his studio in Tuscany. Because of the distance, and mainly my work pressure, it was sometimes difficult to work efficiently together.
Photography and post production work needs to be done in tandem and one cannot continue to look to Holland because your favourite retoucher lives there. Which of course was an enormous compliment.
As a result a new course of action was created. I would not only continue to handle the retouching and color correction for Romain, but we would, especially for him, develop a workshop enabling Romain to carry out this work at a higher level, and by doing so enable him to divide his time more efficiently.
Some time later, in 2014 Romain requested that I give him a complete training so that he himself could carry out the high-end colour corrections.
And as always the credo was ‘ By The Book ‘. “ Marc, it Has to be Right ! “
As we now know Romain lost his health in 2014 and as a result in the Autumn of that same year, passed away. But even in the last phase of his illness I received an email in which he - typically - laid out plans of what should take place in the next three months!
Can I say anything about his photography?
Absolutely ! his images often give the feeling of a ’snapshot’ but are very professionally done. On first sight it looks so simple. But be assured that his deep fundamental knowledge of light and form underlies this. His images are quite classical but give a feeling of freedom. There is always a well composed and thought through balance of background light and flash - his trade mark!
The compositions are stark and easily understood. Sometimes a little playful - as he was himself - they look as if they were amazingly easy to make. Take for example a classical photo from one of the many cd album covers he made.
Four people against a black background with their instruments. But are you aware that each line of light with which the individual is silhouetted against the black background is modulated by a battery of flash lights. Many of the images stem from the pre-digital era. Then everything had to be right ‘in camera’. No computer enhancement or tricks available. It looks so simple but there is so much more than meets the eye
Naturally with Romains’ death your role as retoucher has also ended
Partially. No new projects of course, and this is a great shame. We had such great plans.
However we are now busy with a project which will involve more than just his photography. I am helping those officially responsible for his legacy to set up the 'Romain d’Ansembourg Foundation’ One of the things we intend doing is to ‘unlock’ part of Romain’s photographic archives. After pre-selection there will be a number of photographs which, as ‘edition prints’ can be purchased.
The plan is, next to the availability of one of his unique Erard pianos for musicians, that the proceeds from the sale of these ‘edition prints’ will go towards supporting talented musicians.
People interested in the Artwork archives will be updated by me in the near future on the website through the sites’ blog. I have been told that you will be publishing this interview in the January newsletter which will also show the image chosen for sale and how to order. This months selection is one of the first images I worked together with Romain on - for me that makes it extra special of course.
It is also a beautiful image which combines much that was so important to Romain:
his love for Italy and photography. I can highly recommend that everyone follows and supports this project. It offers the opportunity, for very little money , to buy a real edition print , and at the same time support the Foundation.
Secretly Romain would have found this a ‘no brainer'