Michel is a precocious talent. At 22 years old only he already won 2 of the most prestigious wildlife photography prizes and is about to release his first book “A l’Affut” (“On The Lookout”) and yet still a student at a school of photography. iLHP is particularly honored to have him answer our questions and he has been kind enough to let us discover even more his world as a wildlife photographer.
iLHP: Hi Michel, I am very pleased and honored to be able to interview you for our online magazine. Indeed, as some might not know already, you just won at the end of 2014, two of the most prestigious wildlife photography prizes! (the Rising Star Award of the BBC Wildlife of London and the Fritz Polking Nachwuchspreis from the GDT of Lunen for photographers under 23). So I am very glad to showcase your photographs here! To start with, can you just tell us a little bit about you?
Michel: Hi, well thanks for inviting me in this magazine. What can I say ? I was born in 1992, in a very small village in the country side of Belgium drowned in a beautiful intact nature. I was very lucky to grow up among animals and little by little I became passionate about them.
iLHP: When did you start photography and why? What does it represent for you?
Michel: I seriously started photography when I was 15, before that I was used to do ornithology with a telephoto lens and I even took some pictures with a Point&Shoot camera placed at the base of the lens laughs. I thus started this passion in 2007. What triggered it was the documentary ” The Secret of Wildlife Photographers”, and 3 months later I had my first DSLR and I was immediately running in the nature to find waterfowls and mammals. Photography represents a way of life to me. It is more than just a passion, I feel like it’s in me… what’s important to me is to be in the nature and feel “alone” and that’s why I keep on taking pictures almost every single day, in Belgium or wherever it can be.
iLHP: So you just won 2 very prestigious prizes, I can imagine that you won many more before such titles?
Michel: Indeed, I won those 2 prizes at the end of last year (2014), and it appears that I am the only one to have won those 2 prizes, and the same year! How incredible! That’s really great. I won some other photo contests, but those are only contests… it’s very rewarding and flattering to know that a lot of people will see my pictures, but a contest stays a contest, it’s only a game, a nice one but nothing more than a game.
iLHP: By the way, are you full time pro now or still amateur?
Michel: I’m not pro yet. I’m still a student in a school of Photography and I should graduate this year. So I’ll do the big jump next September (2015) to try to make a living out of my passion.
iLHP: Michel, where can we find and appreciate your work?
Michel: On my website: www.micheldoultremont.com
I also have a Facebook page where you will have the latest news and updates.
iLHP: Where do you find your inspiration or have you other pro-photographers who you look up at?
Michel: There is a lot of photographers nowadays, there are tons of pictures, so it is necessarily inspiring.
iLHP: They’re indeed great photographers. Now this is the question that we always ask, what’s in your bag? Any secret accessories that would characterize your style?
Michel: My equipement is very classical. A DSLR with a long lenght focal and camouflage. I don’t pay much attention to the technique, what I try to catch is the emotion and the atmosphere I feel when I’m in the field, right at the moment when I shoot, that’s the most important to me. If I had to choose one accessory it would be a pair of binoculars because I spend a lot of time observing my environment, look and wait to achieve the best possible photograph.
iLHP: How do you get prepared for a typical shooting day?
Michel: It often depends on what I feel like doing at the moment, depending on which biotope I want to see and I want to photograph. It also depends often on the wind, the light and the moment of the year.
I sometimes use Google Maps to locate new spots and/or new biotopes.
iLHP: What is your post-processing made of?
Michel: I try to stick to what I saw while on the field, to what the original image is. So I edit a little as I can. The only settings I use are the white balance, brightness, saturation and contrast. I’m not keen on using Photoshop or on cropping a lot or even do double exposure pictures and the other things like that. I like what’s natural and I try to stick to it.
iLHP: I understand. And what are your next projects? What are the new things (maybe techniques) that you’d like to explore as a photographer?
Michel: As I was saying earlier, I don’t really care about techniques, as long as you know and understand the shutter speed, aperture, the ISO…
I have a lot of project to plan, I’m a dreamer, that must be because of that. I dream of snow leopards, bison, wolves and bears but we’ll see later what’s possible.
iLHP: Finally, what would be your advice for beginners in the wildlife category to get artistic photographs and not only “naturalistic” pictures?
Michel: The most important thing is to know as well as possible the nature in general and the biotope you explore in order to avoid mistakes, to avoid to scare the animals. It is important to respect them. Concerning the photography so to speak, it’s important to let the emotions guide you, but this is very personal. I would finally say it like that: have fun and take things as they come.
iLHP: Thank you very much Michel for taking the time to share your passion with us and our readers! We wish you lots of great accomplishments like you already had in your very young career as a pro wildlife photographer.
Michel: Thank you very much Christian and thanks for having me at iLHP!