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There are few photographers of his generation for whom music and photography play such important roles as for Guy Le Querrec. His camera was the instrument he used, time and again, to approach and photograph musicians at festivals and concerts. A very special ‘sound’ seems to imbue all his images – a sound capturing a mixture of immediacy, humour and, above all, an interest in people and their stories. “My need for syncopated music, music that has to be improvised, is reflected in my way of taking photographs,” is how he compares his work with jazz, his preferred music style. It was portraits of musicians that initially brought him to photography, as a young man in the late fifties, before he actually decided to work as a professional photographer.

Le Querrec had already bought his first Leica some time previously. For a number of years, he photographed all over the world. Africa, however, was to be one of the main places for his photographic work. In 1969, while working as picture editor and photographer for the weekly magazine Jeune Afrique, he became interested in the continent's politics and culture – in particular the music. Numerous reportages testify to the temperamental photographer's passion. The musical background to his pictures is often recognisable. His unique performances during the Rencontres d’Arles are legendary: accompanied by the music of a jazz quartet, he projected pictures of musicians above the stage. It was a project that he first created in 1983, and then repeated in 1993 and 2006 – combining music and images in a unique symbiosis. Le Querrec sees scenes of everyday life as musical scores, orchestrated and realised by natural forces. “It challenges me to remain in a state of improvisation. I accept reality as a score in front of me that I’m trying to play, to improvise upon,”  the photographer explains.

While we do not have a musical anthem with which to congratulate Guy Le Querrec, we do so with a selection of his rich body of work. They are favourite motifs, chosen by the artist himself. Merci et félicitations, cher Guy Le Querrec! (Ulrich Rüter)

Guy Le Querrec was presented in the Leica Classic segment of LFI issue 2/2016.

All photos © Guy Le Querrec / Magnum Photos / Focus Agency
Marines celebrating the end of their national service, Paris, Montparnasse-Bienvenue, 20.04.1973
Jazz musician Charlie Mingus, with his double bass, at Marseille Provence Airport, 19.08.1976
Baoguang (Divine Light) Monastery, Sichuan Province, China, 27.04.1984
Village scene, Campo de Criptana, Nueva Castilla region, Spain, 28.09.1971
Scene at Le Palace, a nightclub in Montmartre, Paris, 13.03.1980
Public baths in Budapest, Hungary, 28.04.1980
Jazz trumpet player Miles Davis, in concert at the Salle Pleyel, Paris, 03.11.1969
Village scene in Olkopouo, Poni Province, Burkina Faso, 08.03.1998
Music student in the special Train du Jazz, between Dakar and Saint-Louis, Senegal, 07.05.1997
Jazz musician musician Jef Lee Johnson, Morning Star Studios, Spring House, Pennsylvania, USA, 08.11.2003
© Guy Le Querrec

Guy Le Querrec

Born in Paris on May 12, 1941, Le Querrec grew up in Brittany. He took his first pictures when he was still a teenager, purchased his first Leica in 1962, and turned to professional photography in 1967. He became a member of the Vu Agency in 1971 and, a year later, co-founded the Viva Agency. He has been a member of Magnum, since 1976. At the end of the seventies, he began working as a film maker. Guy Le Querrec lives in Paris.

Magnum Photos
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