Speaking to me from Paris, photographer Mathieu Fiol asks me if I can understand him ok, “I’m Spanish, from a German mother, living in Paris, married to a Mexican girl with an Italian background, so my English is perhaps a bit fussy.”
His work is anything but fussy – a trait often found in interior photography that favors the unbelievable and immaculate. Mathieu, who works often in images of beautifully designed luxury homes and retail spaces, has a sense for color and light that sets his work firmly amongst the best without losing a sense of identity.
Tell me about the path that led you to becoming a photographer, and specifically an interior photographer.
My grandmother was a studio photographer. My mother, although she didn’t pursue the family business, kept the love for photography and passed it on to me.
When I started I was very shy, so it was difficult to do portrait or fashion. One of my teachers made me be interested in architectural photography. I became in love with way buildings and spaces can be photographed and can capture so much of the eye. Now I’m mainly interior and architecture photographer.
You run your own photography practice, how do you like working independently?
The best part of being my own boss is that I get to do what I like, when I like, so you have some freedom. But in reality it can be quite the opposite, because being your own boss means not having a steady payroll and having to work even harder with no safety net. You need to tell yourself that even if your job is something you love it’s still a job and has to be done in an strict and regular way, you need to be more rigid and demanding with yourself; because it is actually you who manages your daily life/work.
One of the hardest things was to go looking for clients, and not sitting around waiting for them, because that doesn’t happen. Even though I have encountered many people who think that you cannot be “only” a photographer for a living, I have been able to make a living out of it. It really depends on your conviction and self trust.
I find that many creatives end up creating their own set of boundaries. What is your “rule setting” process like?
Most of my photos come out of the feeling I have that day, if I see something that catches my eye or an idea that pops up I try to work it from different angles and I shoot and shoot until I get the photo that I imagined. I come from a very technical school where the most important thing was the way the photos were taken: lightning, focus, symmetry. I consider myself more of a commercial photographer, even though I work with interior designers that are more into art. I would love to be more of an artist myself. I’ve had to rethink my approach to be more artistic than usual, because at the end I’m shooting interiors that are fine art itself.
If money / commitments were no issue, is there a project you would love to dive full-time into?
I guess being able to shoot the world, it’s magical places, nature, animals, people, show the world what we are destroying with our actions, show that even though we come from different places and cultures we are all the same. I would love to be a volunteer with someone like Yann Arthus-Bertrand or Sebastiao Salgado.
I would like to do a project in a way to overcome my shyness and fear of approaching people and be able to photograph them without feeling like an intruder.
We say that we always want what we don’t have, so I would like to have the courage to “confront” people with my camera.
View more of Mathieu Fiol’s work at mathieufiol.com.