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Infrared Photography Artist Feature: Pierre-Louis Ferrer

Once beyond a time, at 720nm…

My infrared journey started in 2012 when I discovered the possibility of seeing beyond the visible spectrum with specific equipment. At this time, I was an engineer specializing in optics and digital sensors, and I worked on infrared and thermal detection. I found it fascinating to have the ability to see our world in a whole new way, keeping the logic of light caption.

After some theoretical documentation (which was not widespread at this time) and based on my scientific knowledge, I converted my Canon EOS 400D to full-spectrum and began shooting at 720nm. My first subjects were quite simple, but it was a lot of fun!

In 2015, I left my engineer job to become a full-time professional photographer, and I developed an artistic approach based on the impact of human activity on our natural environment. My first project was called “Golden Perigord” and focused on the natural heritage of the French region named Dordogne, with its remarkable gardens and its omnipresent nature. This series was shot at 665nm to give nature a golden aspect.

This first series was well received by the arts media, and my work started being published and exhibited in France.

Time for exhibition

Showing my photographic work and sharing my artistic approach with people is fundamental. I want to show them how infrared photography can be an open door leading to an alternative yet real world. It is just a question of the level of perception. My next series was more ambitious but also more successful: Invisible Paris. It took me three years to achieve this series of 30 pictures taken at 720nm. The main topic is the enhancement of the vegetation in Paris, a museum city known above all for its monuments and not for its flora.

This series was published in many newspapers and online media and exhibited in art fairs, galleries, and photo festivals. From this moment, I realized photographers were more and more curious about this technique, and I started sharing my knowledge on my website and meeting other IR enthusiasts. I met Yann Philippe and Raphaële Goujat, who are close friends now, and together we launched the first French website dedicated to infrared photography, including tutorials, interviews, reviews, and inspirations: http://infrarouge.photo/.

Sharing (light) is caring

Since I started practicing infrared photography ten years ago, the amount of information and tutorials about this technique has exploded. And this is a very good thing. Online communities have also emerged, so photographers have places to share their pictures and ask for advice.

From my point of view, when you use such a niche technique, sharing your knowledge is important. First, because none of us has invented anything: I do not know anyone having built his own sensor, lens, and filter; we are using existing equipment and developing new approaches. I consider myself an expert in IR photography, but I know I still have things to learn and discover, through my own work or by others.

I must mention Rob Shea, Edward Noble, David Hochleitner, Ludovico Andretta, Yann Philippe, and, of course, the team of Kolari Vision for their work on IR photography, their inspiring work, and the content they share regularly.

A few words about my equipment

Along my infrared journey, I still wanted to use the best equipment to obtain more qualitative pictures. I started with a simple Canon 400D converted to full-spectrum and a Hoya R72 filter (the most accessible filter to buy at the time). I evolved with a Canon 50D full-spectrum, a Canon 7D converted to 720nm, a Canon 6D full-spectrum, and now a Canon RP full-spectrum. 

I discovered Kolari Vision while the brand was still young, with only a few IR filters available. I sensed this company would emerge from the mass to innovate and develop high-level filters and services. It seems my intuition was correct, and today I only use KV products as they represent the best offer at this time in terms of infrared equipment.

Another key part of my gear is the lens, and I spent a lot of time and money buying, sometimes renting, and testing many lenses in IR photography.

At this time, my equipment for IR photography is as follows:

  • A Canon RP converted to full-spectrum,
  • A Canon 135mm F/2 L USM for portrait,
  • A Canon 35mm F/2 IS USM for travel,
  • A Laowa 20mm F/4 Shift for landscape and architecture,
  • Three Kolari R Drop-in Filters: 720nm, 550nm, and hot-mirror.

I own the perfect equipment for my use—versatile and relatively light to carry.

What’s next now?

At this moment, my work is divided into three main topics:

  • I continue creating photographic series in infrared, working most of the time at 550nm with my Canon RP full-spectrum to emulate Aerochrome film in digital. My last series, Infra | Blue – White – Red, is dedicated to the natural heritage of France, from iconic places to hidden gems.
  • I organize workshops in Paris to teach infrared photography in a one-to-one session, including all the specific equipment (full-spectrum camera, compatible lenses, IR filters… ). Thanks to Yann, a one-week workshop is now open in the famous photographic school Les Gobelins. This workshop is about IR, UV, and Kirlian photography, and I am involved in teaching UV and UVIF techniques.
  • I offer UV photo and video services for beauty brands, dermatologic laboratories, and health foundations. This new opportunity allows me to make people aware of the impact of our environment on our bodies, including the sun, pollution, and smoking. In a certain way, UV photography has made me develop a complementary approach to my infrared work.

UV shooting during Walgreens event #saveyourskin in NYC

Where can you find me?

Website: www.plferrer.photos

Instagram: www.instagram.com/infrabulous

Behance: www.behance.net/pierrelouisferrer

Other Work

From Raw series of UV portraits

From Urban Echoes series of UV sceneries

From Underground series of IR flash street photography

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