“Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns. It’s late afternoon – the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.” ― Jean Webster
Belgian born photographer Catherine Lemblé keeps surprising us with high quality work, whether she takes her camera into the mountains or points it at the humans in her surroundings, this girl does not cease to amaze. Being on a radar for ages, we felt we really wanted to share some of her outdoor work. Poetic images of snowfall and solitude made us wonder about the woman behind the lens.
Hello Catherine, how have you been? What have you been up to lately?
I’m good, thank you. I like the title you chose for this interview. Right now I’m preparing two exhibitions where I’ll show my work.
Can you tell us a little about yourself. Who is Catherine Lemblé? Where did you grow up, favourite childhood memory etc.
I grew up in the infamous city known as Aalst (Belgium). It’s an old industry town, known for it’s three-day annual festival, where men dress up as weird, nasty women, better known as Carnaval. I grew up there together with my twin sister with whom I don’t share any resemblances. My favorite memories, aside from all our fights are the summer holidays when we went to the mountains to go hiking and camping.
How did you start photography? Do you remember the first time you held a camera in your hands?
When I was fifteen my mother bought a digital camera en this is when I started talking a lot of pictures during holidays. Two years later I bought my own digital camera. Then I discovered Flickr and tons of beautiful photographs on film so the following year I decided to follow evening classes in analog photography. That’s where I learned to develop my own pictures in the dark room. The year after I started my bachelor program in Luca School of Arts in Brussels.
How would you describe your work?
My work is about trying to make aesthetically interesting pictures, starting from a concept, often triggered by my own feelings of wanting to be somewhere…not here and my love for wild nature.
Who are your subjects?
My subjects are mountains, animals, sometimes humans.
Your photographs prompt us to pack our bags and leave, how did you come to that decision yourself, what started your travel bug?
Thank you, I take that as a compliment. I think I was born with this travel bug, if that is possible. My parents travelled a lot, met each others in the mountains (romantic isn’t it?). As a child we would go to France at least 3 times a year (a big part of my family lives there). Although I had to vomit every moment I spent in the car in the mountains, I just really, really, love mountains. To me, they’re the most fascinating, beautiful creatures mother nature has given us.
It looks like you are on the road a lot, we try to inspire people with the wish to leave to pack their bags and walk out the door. What kind of advice do you have for them? How do you manage to be on the road so often?
I would say Just Do It! DO IT! DO. IT.
Do it now, do it good, you won’t regret it but do it for yourself, not to brag about it to your virtual friends or something like that. I am fortunate to not have a steady job (yet) so I can pack and leave when I want. That’s a big advantage of my insecure existence right now.
If you could go anywhere in the world to take pictures, where would it be and why?
I would go to Alaska to take pictures of Denali or the Icefield Parkway in the Rockies or any place in the Rocky Mountains. Or to Nepal or Tibet to take pictures of the highest mountain of the world.
What excites you about photography?
I like getting a grip of things I love or/and intrigue me. Photography is a way for me to get this kind of grip. I have a lot of old mountain books and when I flip through them I get this easeful, good feeling. In the literal meaning: I like the fact that I can hold and store the negatives of my pictures in my room, not only on my computer.
Have you ever tried storytelling through other media? Can you tell us a bit about that?
I tried to make some small drawings/paintings a few years ago, they accompanied the photos for my series Cabin Fever. I like the fact that you can exclude elements by drawing, decontextualize elements to emphasize things. Drawing or painting or collage are media I might want to explore more.
What or who inspires you as an artist?
Music, slow films, nature
What’s the best advice you ever had as a photographer?
Don’t use the smallest aperture to make landscapes pictures.
Is there anything you’d like to accomplish with your photography and if so, what would that be?
Eventually I would like to make my own book. A book that gently guides you through the landscapes like a good hike. Sounds cheesy but it’s true.
How would you like to grow as an artist?
I’d like to get better and master the technical aspects of photographing.
Any exciting new projects you would like to share with us?
This summer I will go back to the alps with my camera.
Any famous last words?
Save The Whales
Who should we interview next?
Géraldine Van Wessem, Kevin Faignaert or Sarah Hermans (although I’m not sure the last one wants to).