Gérard Bret

Student/ Non-Professional – Prix de la Photographie Paris 2019
Nature – Surrealist Voyage

The French photographer Gérard Bret takes geometric and minimally framed, pared-down images of natural scenes, often focusing on impermanent elements that poetically denote the passing of time.

“I try to talk about the imaginary [state] through the images,” Bret, 66, says. “I like capturing vestiges of the past, such as wooden fishing rods that will slowly disappear in order to keep a trace of a memory.”

Based in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France, Bret seeks out places that have only a few, uncluttered elements in order to make crisp, long-exposure pictures using a tripod. He sometimes reworks them post-production in order to render them more painterly and nuanced.

One image shows diagonal lines of raised structures for oyster-farming on salt marshes, the overcast sky setting off the paleness of the marsh and the burnt orange structures. “It was taken in [the fishing village of] Sète on a day when the sky was grey and the marsh appeared white,” Bret, a self-taught photographer, explains.
Clusters of salt in water that has been tinted red by algae, lines of fishing rods, reflections of trees or a wooden hut used for extracting sea salt are the subjects of other images.

An ecological bent resides in these works as well as a paying of respect to the traditions of fishing and oyster-farming in France.

Indeed, France’s landscapes are an endless source of fascination for Bret. “I have the Mediterranean around me and there’s always something interesting to photograph,” he says.

By Anna Sansom