Photography isn’t a job, it’s a passion
A fan of sports and photography, Antonin Grenier always dreamed of combining these two passions. Today, at 30, he is a highly sought-after photographer for major companies. It’s all thanks to his ‘brand’: a subtle harmony between technical prowess and an insatiable curiosity and interest in the people he works with, both in front of and behind the lens.
Your work is often linked to Motul. How did your collaboration start?
"I used to shoot a lot for Hexis Racing and shared my pictures with their sponsor, Motul, who were happy to be able to make their communication stand out thanks to my slightly off-beat style. Afterwards, when Hexis Racing stopped, I continued the collaboration with Motul.
Since this collaboration was built in an organic way, the type of photos Motul expects from me came naturally. My job description requires me to portray values such as performance, team spirit, and quality. I respond to this by working on the human dimension, and that’s precisely what excites me. Not being a particular fan of motorsports, I don’t indulge in the clichés of automotive reporting, which focus on cars, engines, etc. I do portraits: drivers, mechanics, life in the pits.
With my flash and a little image retouching later, I create ‘enhanced’ reports with photos that express a strong atmosphere, that have a soul. I rarely have people pose at the race track. First, they don’t have time, and second, I’ve been doing this for so long that I can anticipate their movements. I observe and I react. But I also love staging scenarios.
I once took a series of photos for a swimwear brand where the models were doing acrobatics on their windsurfing boards, all taken from very close with the flash and with a stormy sky as a backdrop. Except that the shoot took place in my garden, on a trampoline ...”
By the sound of it, photography is more than just a job?
“For me, photography is not a job; it is my passion. If you want to be a true photographer with many great achievements, you can’t make progress by staying at home and looking at your own work. You have to be curious and stay actively involved with new developments in the field. I remember a professor at ESMA (École Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques, a prestigious art school in Montpellier, France - Ed.) who said that we had to ‘feed on photography’ over and over again and see what others are doing.
I have more than 2,000 screenshots of images that have caught my attention on my smartphone. This unconsciously nourishes my way of seeing the image and framing the shots. It enables me to get better every day.”
Can you reveal one of your photography secrets?
“I have regained a taste for fixed lenses with large apertures. This gives photos a shallow depth of field: only the subject is sharp and everything else around it is blurred. I much prefer these fixed lenses to the zoom lenses that many photographers like: it means I always have to be moving, especially since I like being very close to my subject. You’re more a part of the action and it really keeps you on your toes.”
What makes you stand out?
“I’ve become well known for my way of working with people: my curiosity about them, my desire to try and see them from the inside, see them in the moment. Today, with digital technology, we photographers are all very technical, which makes it all the more important to put extra soul into your work.”
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
“I’m a big dreamer. I dream all the time and I let my mind wander, I go with the flow of the energy in the moment. There are always a lot of surprises, but they don’t really startle me, because I never have any specific expectations. This is what’s extraordinary about my job: it’s always different.”