Meet the French Community: Antoine Bruneau [fr]
Introducing Antoine Bruneau, Photographer & Community leader
Interview by Corinne Cecilia
Hello Antoine, and thanks for speaking with us! You started lending your photography skills to our media relations office this summer. Is it the first time you volunteer with a French organization in Toronto?
Well, not really. I also take care of a new but growing French community in Toronto (Torontois.com). Immigration has always been a major concern to me since I landed in Canada. I live and work in an expatriate environment and as the years go by, I see that people get closer to their roots since they have been away from home. French food, wine, events, culture, national days, etc; everything we are proud of gather us. Moreover Toronto has a lot of strong communities such as Little Italy, Chinatown or even Greek Town for the most known so why not have ours, even through internet. That is my desire.
Could you tell us more about your role as a volunteer photographer – how did you get involved? What motivated you? What are your responsibilities and tasks?
Photography has never been an easy hobby, especially when digital did not exist yet. Getting involved in volunteering is a wonderful way to practice, to meet people, and to have a chance that your work is recognized. Few years ago when I first started in France, I was doing black and white film photography, not just shooting but also processing. In the dark room I shared to develop my pictures, I met someone who liked my work and gave me my first volunteer opportunity, a one-year photo-report at a jazz venue, at the end of which I had my first exhibition. Simply, I would say I do not take pictures just for myself; I also enjoy shooting for others and to show my vision of the world.
What do you enjoy most in this commitment with the Media Relations Office?
In one word: challenge. It is hard to explain the responsibility of covering an event feels like. For instance, I did a couple of weddings in France and the responsibility was huge as you must not miss a smile, a look or a kiss, specially in film photography where you don’t know what you get until you are developing the picture. It is a lot of pressure but the satisfaction of succeeding is what I enjoy.
Did you have any other volunteer experience, either in Canada or France?
Not that many except this one-year work in France and currently with the French community in Toronto and more recently with the French Consulate, but I had the chance to do a couple of humanitarian missions as an helicopter pilot in the French Army and the Air Ambulance in Toronto.
How long have you been involved with photography? Your roots are in photojournalism. Do you have any interest in experimental techniques or purely creative work?
It’s funny because I have always been more fascinated by pictures than words in the newspapers. A bit of a dreamer, that is who I am. I really started in 1998 when I bought my first reflex camera. I learned everything by myself, through magazines and famous photographers’ portfolios, to understand the composition of a picture and how to play with a camera in “giving it a try”. Henri Cartier-Bresson fascinated me the most and I really fell into it when I saw the Magnum exhibition in 2000 in Paris. I have a deep respect for photojournalism and all those witnesses who risk their life just for a single picture. You don’t need to know how to read anymore, just to watch. I could stay hours in front of a picture, staring at the painted words. I don’t have any experimental techniques, I just believe in luck and like Henri Cartier-Bresson would say: «the decisive moment».
Your portfolio entails beautiful original travel photographs. What are your favourite topics to shoot?
Well, thank you! My work is still in progress and I still have a lot to learn. I sometimes still try to hide my shyness behind my camera. I don’t have a favourite topic in particular, but I would simply say the World: I believe there is a picture to take in every single thing.
Would you like to tell us more about your life in Toronto? What the best thing that comes to your mind about living in Toronto?
I really do feel like a “city guy”, maybe because I have been travelling a lot those last years. But what I enjoy the most in Toronto is its multicultural and multiethnic face: I can find the world in just one city making me travel even when I am home. Kensington Market is my favourite place for that.
You must be very busy as a professional pilot in the oil sector. How do you juggle your work, volunteering, fun & personal life?
My life has always been like this through all the jobs I had so far and to be honest I don’t really know how it is to be home everyday. I do not say I will not need it one day but having a piece of tropic and sunshine during the cold Canadian winter is really nice too! I also find really rewarding to have a job like mine as I have the chance to travel around the world and meet different cultures. Moreover it gives me plenty of time to work on my pictures or take care of the French community.
Why do you feel it’s important for you to support the Media Relations Office by contributing your time and skills?
Because I feel French and because I believe it is important to represent the colours of the French flag in Toronto.
What other occupations or passions are you currently pursuing?
I love rollerblading, especially freestyle slalom skating. A kind of typically French discipline you don’t see very often in Canada. You might see me on sunny afternoons at Queen’s Park or by the Harbour Front dancing around my cones.
Thank you Antoine!
For more information on Antoine and his works, please visit http://www.antoinebruneau.com/