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Belgian photographer Christopher de Béthune found that working on his series Orion helped him overcome depression. His allegorical images have been turned into a hand-made photo book released by the Italian publisher Origini.

LFI: Your book is called ‘Orion’ – what was the inspiration behind this title?
Christopher de Béthune:I chose it primarily in reference to Orion's Belt, which is known as one of the coldest places in the universe. Historically, this constellation was used by travellers to measure the passage of time. Both seemed like a metaphor for what was going on inside my mind at that point.

The book is elaborately crafted, with several fold-out pages and poignant poems. Who collaborated with you on this artful design?
The hand-crafted book and its fantastic design were made possible by Origini, an Italian publishing company I’ve greatly admired for years. They always deliver stunning art books that are very poetic, and are beautiful objects in their own right. In fact, several of my favourite photo books have been published by this company.

Why do you photograph?
That’s the burning question, though the answer is actually quite simple: it's cathartic.

Is it true that creating this book helped you overcome your depression?
Yes, it did. The illness was like a wound, and the work helped me purify it, so it could heal.

What equipment did you choose, and why?
I worked with my trusty M6 and a 35mm Summicron, and used a variety of films – both new and expired. It’s quite a simple setup, but I have no desire to change it. In my eyes, I’ve found the perfect combination, and I take it with me wherever I go.

If you were to compile a playlist for this book, what would it be?
I’d say that you should look at it whilst listening to ‘Planet Caravan’ by Black Sabbath.

What can you tell us about your current and future projects?
I’ve got a new book coming out soon, released by Dienacht Publishing, which will be the light-infused opposite of ‘Orion’ - rather like a chiaroscuro. It features images from the more joyful time that came after my depression – two years of happiness.

How would you describe the photography scene in Belgium? Do you feel a part of it?
I think Belgium has one of the most exiting photography scenes in Europe. As someone who pursues this art form I think of myself as a very small part of it, a drop in the ocean.

Where were the ‘Orion’ pictures taken?
I spent two years travelling, free as a bird, so the images are from all over the world: from the Alps and the South of France to Nepal, Italy and the Belgian coast.

Interview & Picture Editing: Denise Klink
Translation: Anna Sauper

All images on this page © Christopher de Béthune, Orion, 2019
Equipment: Leica M6 with Summicron-M 35 f/2 Asph

The last copies of the book can be ordered here.
© Laure Maugeais, Arles 2017

Christopher de Béthune

Belgian photographer Christopher de Béthune is best known for his black-and-white landscapes and fine-art scenes. Both impulsiveness and caution are characteristics of his approach. The sense of solitude and melancholy that can be found in some of his images reflect the experience of travelling, and the continuous act of leaving this entails. His work is  strongly influenced by Japanese cinema, imagery and culture.  

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