Spotlight on 2022 Applied Arts Photography winners
A Q&A with Les Garçons
December 9, 2022
The Groomed Man, Les Garçons
Les Garçons are a photographer and director duo who create images and tell stories. They have been together for over 15 years and have been winning awards for as long. They are internationally recognized and known for their conceptual work that incorporates text and design elements. They garnered multiple wins in the 2022 Applied Arts Photography Awards competition. As 2022 draws to a close, we thought we would reach out to this dynamic duo for an update on where they are now.
The Groomed Man, Les Garçons
What is the most difficult piece you worked on? What were the challenges?
This year, we had the opportunity to work on a TV campaign for the Real Canadian Superstore with One Twenty Three West. It was a fun concept and quite a technical challenge. The concept was based on the store's flyer, represented as a cross section of an apartment building. Each box in the flyer was a different room in the apartment building. The camera moved seamlessly from one room to the other, showing us our characters living their best lives. The challenge for us is that we had to film each room separately, and then piece them together in such a way the sequence was exactly 60 seconds.
We created a pre-viz to establish the speed and camera path of the motion control camera. Our mo-co camera was a thing of magic, and helped us control the speed of the sequence. It worked out perfectly, and the final pull-out sequence was flawless. We had a great crew and clients, which made the process quite memorable and rewarding.
What is the project you are most proud of? What was your creative process?
We also had the good fortune of working with Rethink and The Bay this year on their holiday campaign. They were looking to create something that was not stereotypically holiday in its look and feel, but visually represented the online shopping experience at The Bay. Working with Rethink, we imagined a virtual shopping experience with pastel colours, and a grid of cylindrical pods that opened to reveal holiday presents that you could buy at The Bay.
The Bay, Les Garçons
It was really a case of imagining 5 different sets where our cast of shoppers could interact and find their merch. We went through a number of ideas before landing on cylindrical pods. In each set, the pods opened in different ways, but there was a family resemblance between the five sets. We worked with Lousia Schabas, an amazing production designer and her team, to imagine this world. We also had an incredible post-production team with The Vanity. The final product is a very polished and magical dream world. We were thrilled with how it turned out.
What advice would you give to those seeking a career in the commercial photography industry?
I think there would be two pieces of advice I would give to emerging photographers.
Firstly, find a specialty. Something that you are passionate about and people will come to you for because it is what you are known for. For us, we got our start by focusing on culinary photography. Over time, we have been able to expand our range, but we are still known for our interest in making food photographs (and films now) that feature food in ways that are both graphic and delicious looking.
Secondly, try to align your interest with the opportunities out there. Being aware of what is going on in our creative milieu is important and exciting. We sometimes think of our work as a way of participating in the creative conversation that is happening around us. Responding creatively to the opportunities that you can see around you, even the small ones, is a wonderful way of keeping busy and staying engaged and inspired.
Perrier Holiday Cheer, Les Garçons
How has winning Applied Arts Awards impacted your business?
Applied Arts has been an amazing source of visibility for us. It is THE creative resource in Canada, and everyone is watching. In our agency years, we remember devouring the issues when they were delivered, of reading all the credits and writing down names. We were also fortunate to be on the cover a couple years ago. Since then, we have had many people reaching out to us directly. Being visible is extremely important. Applied Arts has been great for us that way.
Who is your creative hero?
We both had fathers who encouraged our creativity. My dad was forever doing projects like wood-turning, building kitchen cabinets, canoes, or taking me to the art gallery. He was my hero in the sense that he taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to. David's father surrounded his 7 children with books, music and art and always encouraged creative thinking, which is at the heart of any artist's practice.
Singapore, Les Garçons
How do you stay inspired?
We think of getting and staying inspired as the main part of our job, and we're systematic about it. We do visual research almost every day, looking at the work of photographers around the world. It's the "listening" part of that creative conversation. But we draw creative energy from all kinds of things - cooking with exciting ingredients, the music we listen to at the studio, our garden... We recently shot a campaign for Gordon's gin in London, and the hotel we stayed at was massively inspiring. (The Standard.) Our creative impressions of the place inspired a very exciting project we'll be shooting at the beginning of 2023. It's thrilling when something you encounter randomly in the world strikes you deeply like this, it's why it's important to stay attuned. It's an endless source of inspiration.