Michael Parque

9 December, 2014
  • ©Michael Parque
  • ©Michael Parque
  • ©Michael Parque
  • ©Michael Parque
  • ©Michael Parque
  • ©Michael Parque
Date and place of birth:
I was born in Nantes in 1968. Nantes is a large town in the north west of France, in Brittany.
Place of residence:
I'm still living in Nantes, this town is very attractive on an artistic and cultural level.
I'm going to 2 or 3 concerts a week. The blog format, a continuous list of entries in reverse chronological order, regularly updated, is ideally suited for my photo reports.
How did you ended up in jazz photography, starting from jazz or from photography itself?
From jazz no doubt. Photography has always been a fascinating subject to me but I didn't really go deep in techniques or equipment for a long time and did not feel able to become a professionnal. I'm self-taught, the best training I had was to learn by doing. A couple of years ago I began to get quite close with a band of young jazz musicians and follow them in every gig. I improved my skills mostly this way and I'm very grateful to them. Shortly after, the club "Pannonica" ( www.pannonica.com ) asked for photography reports, then the festival "Les Rendez-Vous de l'Erdre" ( www.rendezvouserdre.com )... It gaves me the opportunity to reach the national and international scenes.
Is jazz your main activity as a photographer?
Yes. I do not really like the word "jazz". It's a very restrictive term. I prefer to say "improvised music". I wish I could practice more urban photography but time is lacking.
Do you have any other activities related to jazz?
I'm very involved in the local scene in many ways. I'm the president of the association of  artists musicians "1name4acrew" ( www.1name4acrew.com ) and as far as possible I'm trying to make known in France, Europe and beyond, the quality of artistry we have in Nantes. The highlight of 2015 will be the "Collision Collective", a new kind of jazz festival we organize from january to june in 5 different towns (Rouen, Tours, Nantes, Paris and Lyon).
Do you stay in touch with the musicians that you photograph?
I meet and work with the local musicians on a regular basis and some are close friends now. It's more difficult to stay in touch with national and international musicians but social networks allow you to reach virtually everyone.
How important are social networks in your work?
Essential. Facebook is my professional diary. Impossible for me to follow the multiple events without a social network like Facebook. Some events are announced just one or two days before. Nevertheless I'm very carefull about the way Facebook could use my work, I'm changing my way to post my photographies on Facebook, I just post links to my websites now.
In jazz words, how would you label your most recent work: mainstream, fusion, free, avant-garde…?
Free jazz, contemporary jazz, avant-garde, experimental and noise represent 99% of my work. Simply because it's the music I like,the music I'm listening at home.
Can you tell me 3 features of jazz photography that make it so interesting to your eyes?
I can't imagine my life without this music.
Jazz musicians are most of the time simple human beings, approachable without bodyguards.
Jazz clubs are small places where it's very easy to drink a beer with your favourite drummer.
Do you think that there’s a relationship between the quality of the music in a concert and the quality of the photographs you take there?
Yes and no.
Yes because I have the privilege to choose the music I photograph then I'm quite sure the quality of music is not a problem when I'm going to an event.
No because when the music is not as good as expected, my skills and experience allow me  to take good enough pictures.
What side of jazz photography is more attractive to you, the creative side or being a jazz reporter?
Both of course. Creative side comes first but I like to propose a serie of photography for each event, telling a story about this moment. My blog is updated every week, it's a showcase for the artistic and cultural richness of my town. And I'm making photography reports for Citizen Jazz too ( www.citizenjazz.com ) , so yes I think you can call me a jazz reporter !
Some so called ‘jazz festivals’ diversify their offer in favor of other styles of music. Do you think that this trend is a thread for the consistency of jazz photography?
I avoid as much as possible this kind of festival. I'm working 95% of my time in small clubs. I think it's meaningless to offer pop or rock stars in a jazz festival. Unfortunately we all know the reason why ...and it's not artistic.
In my opinion jazz and large scenes don't mix very well. Jazz needs proximity and a certain kind of atmosphere. Personnaly I need to be close with the musicians to feel the music.
Can you recommend a contemporary jazz photographer?
There's a lot of great photographers, it's difficult to name one. Speaking about the work of other photographers, I can tell you 3 or 4 things I pay attention to :
-discretion, disturbing the rest of the public is inconceivable.
-I need to hear the music thru the picture. I don't mind if it's a celebrity or an unknown musician. A photography may owe its attractiveness and it's good quality to the inborn ability of the photographer to recognize the expression possibility of his subject.
-the photographic frame is essential to me.
-the quality of exposure
basics, isn't it?
Thanks, Michael.