Paquito Couet

Paquito Couet

Under your skin

by Paquito Couet (France)

Under your skin. Instinct and instant coming together to meet with human beings, each one carrying his own history. A history expressed in the moment when photography is a link between the innate and the knowledge.

« The world is not about what we see but about what we are. » Antoine d’Agata

Portfolio from the Wedding Photojournalism workshop with Franck Boutonnet, March 2015.

Written review by GAIA TRIPOLI,
Photoeditor New York Times International, France

Paquito has approached his work at the wedding day looking at it as the moment when two human beings meet, each one carrying his own history. Two people, coming from different environments, brought together by their mutual feelings, decide to marry and doing so they accept to share each other’s history, past and ties. Visually Paquito has decided to represent it in Black and White, which by itself it is a choice that conveys a sense of history and timeless quality. I think it is a good choice, that fits the purpose that Paquito has set for himself. The story is shot in a reportage journalistic style, the photographer is trying to convey his point of view using real spontaneous moments happening in front of his camera to do so.

I noticed that Paquito has been very attentive to the body language of the people he photographed at the event, which is a very good starting point in photography in general, and even more so, when the goal of the photographer is to it as metaphors with a bigger sense. Paquito’s eyes, in particular seems to have been captured by the moments where the various people at the wedding are touching, leaving on each other, hugging, basically physically showing their closeness and affection. It a very good intent, as I said.

But one noticeable thing is that, out of seven pictures where people are shown physically sharing their personal space, three of them are photographs of people shot from behind, which I find a little bit repetitive. Especially when I also notice that in the whole take of 14 images, 7 of them, (this includes also photos where people are not touching or hugging) are shot from the back. A good starting point from now on from Paquito can be trying to convey the same idea, and looking at people’s body language, but doing so using a different perspective and different angles, which is a sense is what he already done in picture number 4, where the affection is shown (even though always photographed from behind), just framing a hand on the bride’s back, without showing people’s head. Sometimes details can be as revealing as wider scenes. My suggestion to Paquito would be to pursue this even further.

I now would like to focus on some composition elements in the photographs. Black and White, and using depth of field, can help a photographer a lot to better isolate the subjects in the frame, especially in very crowded and cluttered environments, as the one Paquito found himself working in.

Nevertheless, attention is required on what is happening behind the main subjects’ figures and faces. In this sense, I think picture 8 and 12 need more work. in picture 8, which shows us the couple giving each other the rings, my attention is distracted by the photographers is the background.

One of the photographers is right in the middle of the frame, and even tough Paquito used his depth of field, the image suffers because the eye of the viewer is drawn to the photographer. On top of that, the groom is not isolated properly because a second photographer is right behind him, and his camera ends up overlapping on the groom’s face. These are very difficult moments to capture, because the space is very crowded and the movement possibilities are limited, and because everything is happening very fast in front of the photographer’s camera, but I think that Paquito has some room to improve this.

In picture 12 again, the face of the man on the left overlaps with something white in the background creating distraction. and the overall framing is a bit confused: all we see from the woman the man is talking to, is the top of her head, just a bit of her hair, and there is a third person on the foreground on the far right of the frame which also does not help the viewer focusing on what Paquito is trying to convey.

Paquito does a better job at isolating and framing his subject in frames 11 and 13, but I would also suggest him to try to carefully use the shooting of his subjects from below. The sky in picture 11 and the roof in picture 13 provide him with cleaner backgrounds, but in frame 13 I feel the distortion caused by the perspective is too exaggerated.

The most successful pictures for me are images: 1, where actually the tattoo on the back of the man also adds elements to the history the people carry with themselves. 3, a very tender moment showing 2 adults interacting with a child, also adding meaning to the idea of personal history, even though I really would like get a little bit more of the child’s face. 4, a details of a man’s hand on the back of a woman, showing connection and closeness. 9, group of man hugging, very intimate. 14, bride and groom looking ahead, also metaphoric in a sense.

I invite Paquito to pursue his purpose of researching the idea of people carrying their history even more next time. To look at their past deeper in search for other elements that can be meaningful of this history, they could even be objects. And also maybe focusing on the bride and groom (and other guests) by themselves, to add some elements that can describe how these people are feeling the day they have decided to bring each others’ history and future together. Alternating crowded moments with lonelier once, and with details, would also help him create a wider visual variety of situations, and also possibly to avoid too many group pictures.

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