Generation Next

Julien Boudet

Meet Julien Boudet: the French fashion photographer with a powerful aesthetic and a true passion for images.

by Karin Cuppens
Picture a clear blue sea in France, a room full of cameras, a father with a powerful passion and you quickly understand that Julien Boudet’s background has played a great part in his vision on contemporary fashion photography. He hasn’t been in the game for a long time, yet he has succeeded to change the street style scene from the start. Get inside the mind that captured ‘decisive fashion moments’, the person who roamed the streets during last Fashion Month for CarréCouture. 

How did you first get into photography?
It all happened very organically; first of all my father was an amateur photographer - where I’m from, in Southern France, there is no way to make a living just by taking photos - so I grew up surrounded by cameras, films and negatives all over the place, without really noticing it to be honest. When I moved to New York in 2008, I bought my first camera ever - a cheap Sony point and shoot if I’m not mistaken. I started documenting my new life in the United States. The first thing that caught my eye wasn’t fashion, actually, but architecture.
Little by little I realised that I really enjoyed creating images, and I began wondering if that could eventually become my principal activity. I started taking photos of stylish people in NYC, mostly in SoHo, and quickly after I randomly got my first street style job during NYFW for NSS Magazine. I went back to school to study photography in 2011, at Parsons the New School for Design in Manhattan but I dropped out after two years to launch Bleu Mode in January 2013. And now I’m here, almost five years later…

What do you look for when shooting street style images?
When I shoot street style, the first thing I look for is obviously great outfits, accessories or interesting details. The person wearing the look matters less, in the end, we’re talking about “styles” here, not people. Then, I try to find the best way to frame my photo, an inspiring background, and I shoot it; all of this happens in a couple of seconds, so I feel like this is a very efficient way to practice how to shoot fashion.
Before attending photography school, I had no idea street style was a thing. After reading a lot about Henri Cartier-Bresson and his concept of 'the decisive moment', I liked to think that shooting street style was roughly documenting fashion. The same way Cartier-Bresson and all these legendary photographers were documenting the streets back in the days: you shoot on the streets, 'à la volée', using natural light only… So that is how I came up with the expression: 'decisive fashion moment'. Obviously, during fashion week, it’s a lot more 'expected' than when you shoot on a regular day. But at the time, I was mostly shooting in downtown Manhattan when it wasn't NYFW, so it felt more natural.

What is your favourite city to shoot?
Paris, no doubt. PFW has the best people - I'm not talking about French people only obviously - attending the shows, thus making it very enjoyable and exciting to shoot.

Do you have any specific rituals during a shoot?
Not really, or maybe I do, but it’s so natural to me that I don’t even realise it.

Who is the ‘new kid on the block’ we should keep our eye on?
My friend Pablo Attal from Paris. He is still pretty young, but he already has a clear vision and great taste.

How do you feel about the recent ‘protest’ of street style photographers during Fashion Week with the campaign #nofreephotos?
First of all, I want to point out that I’m not part of this movement. I think their 'protest' wasn’t clear enough, people on the other side of the camera did not get what they were trying to say, and most of them felt they were under attack.
Street style is a very specific type of photography, and if you decide to be part of it, then you should know that the use of your images is going to be tricky. If you’re too insecure about it, just move on and do editorials, portraits or any other type of photography.
On top of this, we are shooting people who did not ask anyone - for some at least - to be photographed, and you’re making a living out of them pretty much; then you get upset when they use the image themselves? Is that what it was all about? I don’t know, but this doesn’t make sense to me…

What is next in the fashion scene according to you?
To me, streetwear is going to get even bigger. Just by looking at these streetwear brands collaborating with historical fashion houses such as Supreme x LV or Off White x Jimmy Choo, streetwear is taking over the market, and it has been going in that direction for quite some time. It’s a pretty fair trade: young brands get credibility in the fashion world, and historical companies get their young clientele.
I recently saw a photo on of Anna Wintour surrounded by Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston, and to me, it was the perfect summary of what is happening right now in fashion: youth culture is taking over, and the old guard has no choice other than to accept it and play by their rules. 2018 is going to be very interesting, whether you like streetwear or not.
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