Interview with Aurélien Aumond

Aurélien Aumond is a French architecture photographer based in Lyon, France, interested in spaces, lines, lights, shadows, tones, and textures. We caught up with Aurélien to talk about photography, architecture, creativity, and living and working in Lyon.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Well hello, I am Aurélien, I am a human being living in France. If we refer to the Gregorian calendar I was born in the year 1983.

I would say that I am a curious person, interested in a long list of things like technical fabrics, gaussian blur, architecture, sociology, future, learning things, white noises, astrophysics, visual and sound glitches, intriguing engineering stuff, chance, memes, VST modular synths, ghosts, time, fog, quantum mechanics, colour gradients, monster trucks, laughter, graffiti, anthropology, staircases, light... and many more things I can’t think of right now. 

As an everyday occupation, I take photographs of things I find interesting. This occupation led me to make money and I use that money to pay my rent, buy food, clothes, music records, books, sneakers, gifts for my nephew and sometimes gas when I rent a car (I also pay the car rent with that money) etc.

Other than making money I do this to convey a vision of life and things I have, I do this because I need to and also because I can do it, and, of course, I also do this for likes on Instagram (follow me @aurelien_aumond). I am also making music as Gzser (follow me). And I wish I could do more things in the future, drawing, sculpting, lighting things… 

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Poitiers, a French town internationally renowned for its food like Le Farci Poitevin and Le Broyé du Poitou, and also its infamous theme park: THE FUTUROSCOPE

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in photography?

It was pure chance. 10 years ago I had the idea to build a business around real estate photography (I was then working in the real estate industry)… I started to fool around with a camera and boom that was it. As a practice, I started to take pictures of my city and understood I had a thing for architecture and that I had the power to convey the vision of things my eyes were seeing.  It made me realize (or convinced me) that I had something creative teeming inside. I didn’t pursue an artistic academic education, instead, I started taking pictures, learning the discipline, teaching myself the basic knowledge of photography. Discovering that I was able to express my creativity was a true revelation.

Then I discovered I could go further than just "representation/documentation pictures", that I could convey this vision with more elaborated images. So I dug deeper, started to alter the photographs, experimenting and it just built up « naturally » from there…

How would you describe your creative process?

It depends, I get inspiration from a vast array of things, it could be a scene from a movie, an art installation, images from a comic book, a detail on a painting, a place, a phrase written in a book, an object, a dream I had, a word.....From there I get an idea in my head of the image I want to create,  and sometimes I don't have any idea, I just start with an image and I try to go somewhere just letting myself go, trying things. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.  And in the end, most of the time, I end up with a complete different image from the one I had in mind. Trials, errors and good surprises, the best creative process haha.

Does your city and surroundings influence you as a creative and individual?

Not really a creative influence per se but more like a place where I feel good, secure, joyful, not stressed, chill… I would say that it helps to build the mindset I need to feel good and be creative.

As an individual I like the fact that Lyon is a small-sized city, there’s a village vibe here I like. 

What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like Lyon? 

I would not say that I am struggling at all. Sometimes I tell myself that, maybe, if I was living in a bigger city I would get more emulation from other creative people, I would have more opportunities to get exposure etc… but the importance I put in the quality of life, the slow-paced rhythm, close to the mountains and nature here in Lyon is more important to me. And I am convinced that the grass isn’t greener... you know… 

The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in Lyon?

Actually, I am not really involved in the artistic life of Lyon and I don’t really see or understand how much the city council is involved in art. There are a few museums here and I guess they fund them… But from my point of view, I find the artistic propositions not as exalting, profuse and interesting as what you can find in Paris for example. But we have a few galleries and art centres I consider interesting anyway.

Do you think it is also the responsibility of the artist/creative to improve the quality of people's lives in their city?

I would not say that it is a responsibility, I find the term a bit strong haha, for me, it is more a personal choice creative people can make. I would say that they could have the wish to show or offer people new perspectives on art, showing new things, new disciplines, different ways to approach different mediums… A way to surprise people in their bias and reflection on art and life.

Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particularly excited about?

Lately, I feel the need to do more than just taking photographs or making images. I need matter, texture, I want to be able to apprehend my work in different ways than just with a visual approach.

Being able to work with sound, light, shapes, moving objects, shadows, colours… I don’t really know what will come out from this but this is something I am intensely thinking about right now.

If you could add or change something about Lyon, what would that be?

I don’t know if I would change anything, not that it’s perfect but what is perfection anyway?

And I have seen/read so many movies/books where someone has the power to change one tiny thing and it ends up in a complete disaster that I am not sure I want to have that kind of power.

So let's say that we keep things as they are and let chance and time do their work!

Describe the perfect day for you in Lyon.

Waking up when my body and mind feels it’s time to wake up, sip a good cup of coffee with viennoiseries, listen to music, walk around the city to clear my mind and think about things, daydream, read, take a nap, sip a good cup of coffee, meet friends, drink wine, eat cheese, watch a good movie.

Or one of those days in winter where the sun is shining and the mountains are full of snow, you go skiing with friends, eat a slice of pizza with french fries on the slopes, drink a beer...

If you could choose any artist/creative to collaborate with, who would that be and why? 

That’s a good question… I don't have any name that I can think of but I guess it would be someone that I could work with on an art installation involving matter, light, sound…

What do you do to switch off?

Music, movie, hike, ski, scribble, read, drink, nap.

What does home mean to you?

The place where I feel good, secure, where I can think, unwind.

Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does Lyon evoke a personal smell to you?

I don’t have a great sense of smell… so I am not really able to detect and memorize one in particular. Most of the time when I realize I smell something, it’s because it stinks, I don’t want to share one of those smells here haha.

What is your favourite time of the day?

I like dusk, the time when the city becomes more peaceful, you feel people more relaxed, the light gets softer, artificial lights go on, the colour gradient of the sky (told you I liked colour gradients) stars appear in the sky, the moon.

There is a feeling of serenity, and I think I am getting more productive at this time of the day.

If you weren’t living in Lyon and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?

I ask myself this question regularly and honestly I really don’t know… I think I would be more interested to live, I don’t know, 6 months in a city then move to another, big cities or small villages… In order to experience different cultures, influences, and maybe by doing so I would find a place I would like :)

LYON BY Aurélien Aumon

A selection of places in Lyon - recommended by photographer Aurélien Aumond . See all of Aurélien's favourite places here


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