Interview with photographer Stéphane Hette

Visions and Nature
Nature Photographers interviews

I think we should respect the integrity and the living environment of the species that we photograph

Stéphane Hette

When I first saw some images of Stéphane Hette in a French photography magazine, Image Nature, I was stunned and wondered how he could create such images with butterflies. Maybe with a white piece of paper behind the scene or at home but then I was still wandering how. It was on his own Facebook page that he published a link with the answer to my question. To see Stéphane at work click here. I think Stéphane has created his own style of images with a great feeling of composition and contrast, like he is mentioning himself,  in an Asian art style.

‘I studied illustration in Belgium and discovered photography by chance when I was around 37 years old. After a year of trial and error, I developed my own techniques and photographed living subjects in my home studio set-up. I always respect the environment and integrity of my subjects. I think it is only with my patience and knowledge of the species that I can take this kind of photography’, Stéphane Hette

Who is your inspiration?
I’ve only very recently become familiar with few nature photographers, even if I appreciate the work of quite a number of them. I’ve mainly been inspired by painting, and more particularly by Asian art, whose effects can be seen in my work.

What made him/her inspire you, with what kind of image(s)?
Some photographers tempted me to take on nature photography but they did not really inspire me. The work of Bruno Calendini or Vincent Munier allowed me to think that we could be free and do what we liked above all. It is what I do, far from rules and restrictions, just with respect for my subject in mind. I often make small preparatory drawings before taking photos, to have an idea of how things will look. I have also just recently discovered the work of Karl Blossfeldt which I find fantastic and very inspiring.

As a photographer I particularly admire Stephen Dalton for his freedom and the power of his imagination, as well as Gislhain Simard, his inspired follower. But I will not list here all the nature photographers whom I like because the list would be very long:)

What do you like about Nature Photography?
In fact I would not know how to define what I like in nature photography, but it certainly makes me very happy when I practice it. Happiness, or the quest for happiness is important in life. I believe I have found what makes me happy and I am lucky to be able to share this happiness with others.

Are there things you don’t like about Nature Photography?
I don’t fight anything and I do not practise proselytism. I suppose that other people have the same passion I have who only shoots the things I really like. I would find uncalled-for to judge them. Too often I find that we lose interest in the young or in what is close to us by being interested in endangered species. The small is essential in the chain of life and I think that it is what you should not forget. For the rest I think we should respect the integrity and the living environment of the species that we photograph and to try to have the least possible impact on the environment. I hate those who give lectures and who often do not do what they say. I prefer not to give lessons as I’m sure I make mistakes too, even if I am very careful.

Do you have any tips for Visions and Nature readers who would like to become professional nature photographers?
Due to low-cost agencies, which are now all around the world, I shall tell them to be careful and to work near where they live. It will allow them to remain free to photograph what they like, and not travel all over the world in pursuit of subjects, which won’t appeal to them. But I shall especially tell them to rush as we are so happy to do something we really like!

What are your specialities?
The photography of butterflies of course but more generally the photography of small size species: birds, insects, and rodents.

Photographs are Copyrighted © 2011, Stéphane Hette — All Rights Reserved

But I also do other things from time to time just for fun.

Photographs are Copyrighted © 2011, Stéphane Hette — All Rights Reserved

Share with us one of your personal favourite photographs? It is really a difficult exercise but I think that my favourite photo is the next I am going to take. But if I have to try to choose just one only I would say that it’s the photography which deals with Hanami (spring in Japan). I once wanted to take one special shot, but I had to wait for the Japanese cherry trees to bloom for that!

Photographs are Copyrighted © 2011, Stéphane Hette — All Rights Reserved

Describe how it was taken?
I had to choose a branch of cherry tree, that I arranged nicely in my studio (in fact in the lounge of my house). After that Cathy -my wife – and I sorted out the petals. When I had them on a wide ruler, I put my camera on a tripod, adjusted the flashes, and connected the remote control. I then set the butterfly on the branch – I was really hoping that it would not fly away immediately! I again verified my camera setting. I took my ruler covered with petals in one hand and the remote in the other. I took a series of 3 images while bringing down the petals over the scene. And finally I jumped with joy by seeing the result: it was really the image which I had wanted to make! Happiness is often that simple.

You are now on Visions and Nature Blog, a Nature and Landscape Photography Blog from Kristel Schneider. Do you know her work?
No I did not know her work because, as I said above I do not know the world of the nature photography that much. But I am always happy to discover a new glance on the nature, which surrounds us especially when this glance is talented!

When you look at her gallery which image pops out for you and why?
I like the series on mushrooms very much undoubtedly because one more time it is a world  I do not know and I like discovering beautiful things –  I admit it!

See the images Stéphane likes from Kristel’s Gallery:  Mushrooms and Fungi.

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