«Meeting people… Isn’t it the exact leitmotiv of a photo report? Shooting the portrait of some unknown person or of a public figure, the outcome of the encounter. Most of the photographers which inspire me are famous portrait photographers: Boubat, Koudelka, Nutan, Vivian Maier but also Padraig and Joan Kennelly, an Irish couple with which I share a common point: the fact that we shot John B. Kean’s portrait. They did it in 1968 and I did it in 2000. The 1968 picture shows him, sitting on a Mini Austin’s fender, a fag in his hand, looking God knows where. The photography shows an accidental, unprepared encounter: the picture was shot in a street of Listowel, his crib! This privileged encounter which he greeted the Kennellys with, I was going to live it too, thirty years later.
I remember this big guy, a little bent by the weight of the words and by the time that is eating him away. Smiling, he came from the scullery of his Pub. Walking slower than a cow-boy, he pushed the wooden bat-wing doors and send them flying. It’s John B. Kean, the playwright inspired by the old Ireland, the uncrowned king of Kerry. Generous barman of the John B. Kean Pub and creator, amongst other things, of the short-tempered Bull Mc Cabe, farmer perfectly played by Richard Harris in the Jim Sheridan’s film, adapted from his play «The Field». He was standing there, before me, mocking and talkative. The time of a couple of pictures, he was going to play opposite to me, his hand firmly paced on the beer engine. The meeting was simply exceptional, for the unlikely talk between a Giant and a humble photographer, was very friendly. It ended with a good laugh, coffee and a nice pint!
But I could say the exact same thing about Gilles Servat, Dan Ar Braz, Denez Prigent or Daniel Guichard in his camping-car who, for an after-noon, invited the impressed kid I was to go inside of his toy shop. Same feeling with the illustrator Frank Margerin, the father of «Lucien», who enjoys jumping on his BSA in the countryside of La Gacilly, with Breige of the Hannah Sisters, who offered me a magnificent smile… I remember other overwhelming joys: the joy of Didier Squiban unwrapping his grand piano, coming in a trunk straight from Molène; of Maryangela Keane, renown botanist of County Clare, who was waiting for me under the Irish drizzle of Kilfenora, bragging about the effects it had on her pretty woman’s skin. Of Jean-François Coatmeur, a small man with a raincoat, master of the thriller who, without flinching, let my eye capture him with my reflex in Brest, on the quay of the harbour in front of a black and red beacon. Of Denez Abernot, poet, singer, painter yet first instituter Diwan, in his fief of the Pagan country… Of the maestro Frédéric Olivieri, of his warm welcome at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala de Milan and of his pupils following him, happy and proud for a memorable picture. It is impossible to list here every single person who accepted to be taken a picture of. This page is dedicated to them in tribute of all the nice encounters of the past and of the future.»