Inside this issue
Romain Tornay is a photographer and biologist based in Geneva. His work focuses on nature photography in arctic, subarctic and montane environments. His approach is to highlight the beauty and the particularities of nature, from the great landscape to macro photography. His colour and black and white photographs have often been awarded at international competitions.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
Iceland has undoubtedly opened many people’s minds to the photographic possibilities of the far North and other places such as Greenland and the Faroes are now increasingly being talked about. It’s easy to think that our bucket list of adventures is image and internet driven. For Romain Tornay it was the stories that he read from an early age that inspired him to travel to and experience the same environments that had so fascinated him.
Can you tell us something about where you grew up, your early interests and whether those influenced your studies and choice of career?
I was born and grew up in the small town of Martigny in the canton of Valais, in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Although I enjoyed most of the activities of young children, I always had a great admiration and attraction for the great outdoors. Like many children, I dreamed of living in a hut lost in the middle of a forest. I quickly became passionate about the alpine world around me. I spent my youth walking, climbing, skiing, watching wildlife, understanding weather and nivology.
Hesitating between geography and biology, I opted for biology because science seduces me particularly. Although I specialized in environmental sciences, I oriented my career towards teaching so that I could pass on my passion and also enjoy school holidays to continue to realize my personal projects.
How did you first become interested in photography and what kind of images did you set out to make?
I became interested in photography as a child. I had fun evaluating magazine portfolio images, and I was photographing everything with my Kodak Disc 4000. But most of all, Grand Reportage pictures made me dream. I stopped taking pictures after childhood.
We can consider that my real start in photography began as an adult. I had already travelled a lot but two regions fascinated me in particular: the Far North and Africa.
Chance and certain circumstances led me to the North, which I wanted to photograph. Twenty years ago, it was not easy to travel to these countries and I wanted to share through images what I experienced and observed. I therefore clearly associate the birth of my passion for photography with my first trips to the North.
My first photos covered some action, some landscape, some animal life, some still life, a bit of everything but also sometimes nothing special. What is certain is that at that time I already had the necessary patience and determination that I still apply today in my photographic activities. My experience and my photographic approach progressively evolved over the years to be more refined, and especially more precise.