Photography Media Journal
ISSN 1918-8153

Blog|Journal | Gallery|Contact|Site map|About 

Print version (full-text)

Photographs of Laos

by: Interview with Philippe Coste

February 2006

published online August 2006. Interview conducted by Tomasz Neugebauer. Philippe Coste has a gallery at

page: 2 of 3

previous page| next page

Boating in French Guyana, “Saint Laurent du Maroni”.

Are you also interested in printing and darkroom techniques?

I don't like darkroom work. Probably, because I'm not good at that. I'm not patient enough. So because I don't have any pleasure doing printing, I've stopped doing so a long time ago. But I like very much the relationship I have with the different people who do the job for me.

Akkha women, Ban Sopikao, Muang Sing 2004
"The second time I went to this remote village I brought a large format camera and I used Polaroid black and white film to picture the people. At the beginning it was difficult to ask them to take the pose for me, but when they understood that I would give them the picture if they did, most of them were very happy and a few even came to invite me to their house and picture them."

How did you end up taking photographs in Laos?

The first time I came to Laos was in 1999 for holidays. I went to visit a friend in Luang Prabang. He was working as a doctor in the local hospital. I decided to avoid, as much as possible, tourist activities. That's why, I spent 2 months helping him in his daily work at the hospital (my background is nursing). During this time, I really got to love Luang Prabang and the Lao culture. A few months later, I decided to leave France to go to establish myself in Laos. I had been taking pictures for a long time and when I arrived in Laos, I just continued to do so.

Hongsa 2005

How does your work differ from the kind of photography that we see in National Geographic?

I'm not a photographer. I mean, I'm not the guy you call to offer a photographic assignment. I've never tried to work like this. From time to time, I get fascinated by something and I try to develop a photographic project on that subject. It has been the case with the boat transportation on the Maroni River in French Guyana, the rice cultivation or what I'm working on at the moment: the elephant at work.

How has your approach towards photography changed over the years?

I'm more and more interested in producing a collection of pictures on a specific subject. I am not seeking to shoot beautiful or very aesthetic single pictures like I was in the past. Probably because I have become more interested in "telling" stories through a series of photographs taken over a period of time.

in this section: