Inside this issue
Based in Provence, in the south of France, Julien is a photographer focused on nature and traditional lifestyles in harsh environments. After living a love story with the arctic lights of northern Norway where he settled down and discovered his passion for photography, he happened to fall into the arms of the Himalayas. Since then, whether it is landscape or documentary photography, he has focused his attention on remote and high altitude areas, in the Himalayas as well as in the Alps.
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.
If you like your mountains big and have ambitions for adventure, read on… We have a fascinating interview for you with French photographer Julien Fumard, who despite saying he’s not really into physical activity hasn’t let this stop him from undertaking a series of expeditions to the Himalayas that many only dream of. By staying with local families, he has experienced not only remote landscapes but also village life in harsh environments, and we make no apology for the fact that the images in this feature include both people and place. All too often our photography separates the two, and through Julien’s eyes, we gain an insight into what we might stand to learn if we don’t.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, what your early interests were, and what you went on to do?
My name is Julien Fumard. I was born in Marseille, in the south of France 39 years ago and lived there until my mid-twenties; I now live in Meyrargues, about 50kms up north. Since my teenage years, I’ve been passionate about music, especially the hard kind, the one that gets your head banging and gives you the strength to overcome anything: metal. I even played in a band as a guitarist for a few years. That was THE thing for me! At that time I had absolutely no interest in photography, and it remained like that for quite a while. I also had a growing interest in nature which was kind of hard to fulfil, living in a big city like that. So I was very frustrated in that sense, but sometimes with friends, we would borrow my parents’ car and drive to a nearby forest, make a big bonfire - which was absolutely forbidden (and stupid considering how dry the region is) - and partied the whole night before dropping asleep in bags that were barely warm enough. I loved these short moments in the wild. I guess my parents bringing me to the mountains was the reason for my interest in nature. When I was a child I loved watching forests where creatures of myths and legends were living hidden from human sight.
Later on, the woman I still live with now pushed me to go on a trip to Scandinavia. She had been there with her father as a kid and well, Norway was the country of black metal and trolls, so that sounded like a really great idea. We left with our car, a tent and a trunk full of food - and wine - and there we went up until the northern tip of Norway. Despite the hardships, this month long trip was a revelation to me. I remember using my girlfriend’s pocket camera all the time - it was actually a gift I’d just made for her birthday. That’s when I started to get interested in photography. It was not yet a passion but the travelling bug on the other end had bitten me. I went to finish my studies in Canada, then back to France where we moved to different places, then up to Tromsø, Norway. My dream of living in Norway had finally been realised… only to be crushed seven months later when the company I was working for as a software developer shut its doors. But at that time a new passion, photography, had emerged thanks to the crazy lights of polar latitudes. The end of a dream would become the beginning of another. I would travel further, longer, but this time with a purpose: photograph the wonderful world we live in.