Our thirty ninth interview in this new series of intimate interviews enables talented mobile photographer and artist, Frédéric Deschênes to hit all the right notes with his sublime turn of phrase and intriguing imagery. Enjoy!
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Whalberg, Andrea Bigiarni, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios, Linda Toki, Deb Fiel, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter and myself, go here.
All images ©Frédéric Deschênes
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I dreamt to be a professional hockey player. I knew all hockey players of “The Montreal Canadiens”! I also love animals, so I thought I could be a veterinarian too.
When I was 10 years old, at the end of the season, I received the medal of the Most Valuable Player on my hockey team.
I had my first little job around the age of 12. I sometimes baby sited the neighbour’s children. It was for a few hours, in the evening. At that time, I was given $2.00 an hour! Subsequently, I had several odd jobs. I snowed in the winter, I delivered newspapers and I was also a lifeguard!
Private or State school?
I always went to public schools. There was a private high school, but I played music in groups and the music teacher, whom I liked at that time, taught in a public high school.
University or Work?
I did not go to university, but I completed 2 college degrees. I learned classical piano, from the age of 5 to 17 years old. I also played saxophone in high school. So, I decided to pursue college studies in music, with a technique in jazz arrangement. This decision led me to live in Montreal. I am native of Hauterive, a small town in eastern Quebec. At the age of 18, moving from a city of about 20,000 habitats to Montreal, a city of nearly 2 million people, was a big change for me! Then, I discovered photography! It was a revelation and it became immediately a passion! I made the decision to go back to school to do a program in television production. During those years, I took a lot of pictures; most of them were taken with a black and white film. My favorite film was the Kodak Tri-X 400. I spent a lot of hours and nights in the darkroom!
Who was or is still is your mentor?
I have not had a mentor. However, in my youth, in addition to studying music, I practiced several sports: Hockey, Baseball, Soccer, Swimming, Judo, Ski, Snowboard, Tennis, among others. I was a very active youngster! I had a great passion for hockey and my idol of the time was Wayne Gretzky. I watched him and I tried to imitate his style! I played the center position, like him. I was skating, with a fairly leaning forward position and I was as good a smuggler as a scorer! I had a very beautiful childhood!
Nowadays, I admire a great variety of excellent photographers.
How physically fit are you?
After having a very active childhood and adolescence, today I do activities with less intensity. For more than 10 years, I have been walking for at least an hour a day with my dog, I travel by bike to work and I practice some other sports, occasionally. If I compare myself to my youth, I’m less fit!
Ambition or talent: What matters more to success?
What is success? A teacher, at the time of my studies in jazz music, often shared his personal reflections and I always remembered this one. He asked us: Is it better to succeed IN life? Or, is it better to succeed YOUR life?
In my opinion, the important thing is to find the reason for our existence. The important thing is the human qualities that you share with others. So, for me ambition and talent are not very important.
How politically committed are you?
I am aware of what is happening locally, nationally and internationally. But, I’m really not a policy expert. I believe that our societies are mainly driven by politics, but I also believe that the major changes ahead will come from each individual. It is possible to change the world, by changing oneself and sharing our values through our actions, our words, or any other means that allows us to express ourselves.
I believe in the awakening of the consciousness of each person. The ocean is made up of infinity of drops of water and each of them has an impact on the ocean!
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
With time, I become less and less materialistic. I’m more in the mode of lightening my life of material stuff.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
I think it is to have owned a large house, equipped with an in-ground pool!
In what places are you happiest?
I love being surrounded by nature. Going for a hike on the mountains, finding myself in the forest, or being near a watercourse makes me feel good!
What ambitions do you still have?
I have a constant desire to take better photographs! This is what invigorates my passion for this art!
What drives you on?
Learn more about myself! It may seem egocentric, but there are always things to improve on ourselves. Sometimes, it’s a good challenge!
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
To become aware, a little more each day, that life is wonderful!
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Unconsciousness and lack of respect.
If you were 20 years old self could see you now, what would he think?
“Congratulations for having achieved this beautiful evolution! It has not been always easy, but it is for your good that you have lived all these experiences…”
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
A few years ago, I had a good road bike that was stolen. I liked a lot this bike because I used it regularly for long rides and it allowed me to keep fit and explore places I did not know much.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
As I mentioned earlier, I believe we need more consciousness. We need to develop a kind sensibility for humans, for nature and all living beings of this planet. To find a balance in sharing and respecting the Earth’s resources.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I believe that every person is inhabited by energy. And that energy never dies.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I cannot give precise numbers… Yesterday, I was at 6, today at 8, tomorrow at 9! Every day, the perception that I have about myself could change… Up and down… The important thing is to always share the best of oneself, and accept that this best can vary from one day to the next. Overall, I am proud of my evolution!
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