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Sebastian Pipo, a French photographer from Toulouse, is interested in all the diversities of photography, he is being influenced by known masters of photography and inspired by his extensive traveling. This year he visited Bonfire Night in Belfast, a yearly event on the day of the Battle of Boyne. An interplay of folklore, cultural and religious influences and customs resulted in thrilling and intensive shots. Read the full article in LFI 8/2015.

You have been to Bonfire Night for the second time. Was once not enough?

The exuberant patriotism, colourful bustle and intoxicating atmosphere of Bonfire Night in Belfast offered the perfect platform for me. Because of that I came again. Up to 30 metre-high piles of scrap-wood, pallets and car tyres are skillfully assembled all over Belfast, decorated with flags and set on fire. For me, Bonfire Night is an expression of Northern Ireland’s peculiar confluence of tradition, patriotism and provocation. I very much like this place, it is very different from any other in Great Britain, people are somewhat crude but very nice. Between my first time in 2003 and my second time there is a photographic pause of five years - and I knew that I will return one time with a digital camera. At my first visit shooting analogue, I never could exploit my work at 100%, so this time I took the digital M (Typ 240) and it was complete success.

You let yourself being influenced by the genres and photographers, for instance Alex Webb, Diane Arbus or Joel Peter Witkin. You say, your style has not developed yet into a specific direction, yet you have a distinctive style already, in your reportage and street photography in especial. Is there not indeed a preference for a genre and style?

My inspirations include the reportage work of Darcy Padilla and Jacob Aue Sobol as much as the surreal still-lifes of Roger Ballen. I also admire the work of fellow LFI Gallery users: the erotic imagery of Alex Coghe and Maximala, the street photography of Pierre Belhassen or the atmosphere of China in the photographs of Wujingli. But I have two main preferences in photography: The first is color photography as Alex Webb, Harry Gruyaert, David Alan Harvey with his wonderful colors and a seemingly magic composition. The second is more dark. Role models would be Jacob Aue Sobol or Mary Ellen Mark. I change between those two benchmarks. But I need to work and get better frame I am proud to say that in my entire LFI Gallery only 5 pictures are cropped. And I’m only just discovering the great classics – Sebastião Salgado, James Nachtwey, Joel Peter Witkin, Mary Ellen Mark, Diane Arbus, to name a few.

For your work you have, over the past years, used various Leica Cameras and lenses, as there are the M6, the M (Typ 240), the Summilux-M 35mm, the Summilux-M 50mm and the Summicron-M 90mm. How did these influence your work?

Very much indeed. I think that without the M system I couldn’t have made certain pictures. My favourite lens is the Summilux-M 35mm, this lens on an M system is a magic couple. Also it’s a real motivation to have the same camera system like Henri CartierBresson and other famous photographers. Without doubt the M system influenced my point of view and my style.

Sébastien Pipo

38 years old, born in Toulouse where he also lives today, working for Airbus, Pipo studied photography at the Lycée Professionnel Molière Orthez from 1994 to 1996.

The Belfast, Bonfire night and Orange Order series at the LFI Gallery caught the attention of the LFI editors. You can find the photographer’s profile here.
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