Our seventy sixth interview in this series of intimate interviews is with talented mobile photographer and artist Paul-André Hamel from Montréal, Québec, Canada. This is a sumptuous interview – a gleaming work of someone at the peak of their craft. 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 Bigiarini, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios, Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright, Dieter Gaebel, James Ellis, Marco P Prado, Jeronimo Sanz, Manuela Matos Monteiro, Bleu Chemiko, Manuela Basaldella, Stefania Piccioni, Luis Rodríguez, Marilisa Andriani (@mitrydate) Mayte Balcells (@artofmayte), Nicole Christophe, Jennifer Graham, Cathrine Halsør, Paul Toussaint, Carol Wiebe, Julie Denning, Kim Clayton (@berleyart), Karen Messick, Serap Utaş, MaryJane Rosenfeld, Paul Suciu, Susan Latty (@pause.and.breathe), John Nieto, Phyllis Shenny, Joy Barry, Max Lies Derdonk, Rita Tipunina, Violet Martins, Nizzar Ben Chekroune, Lynette Sheppard and myself, go here.
All images ©Paul-André Hamel
What was your earliest childhood ambition?
To become a writer, which did not happen, and for many reasons. Each book I read in my childhood was a chance to discover new world. However, storytelling has taken on a different meaning with photography.
A prize at the end of the high school, of which I sadly have only a vague memory.
An office job in a government agency. After 3 weeks of training, I was made to understand that I was too efficient, and that it bothered other. So, I moved on…
Private or State school?
In my environment, everyone went to public school. It was not an option or an issue.
University or Work?
Both at the same time. A full-time job and 3 classes in the evening in Literary Studies. And, with a friend, hosting a community radio show about literature. This did not leave much room for any social life.
Who was or is still your mentor?
No one in particular; but a few friends have influenced me over time and give me their support and love.
How physically fit are you?
Ever since I received a pedometer as a gift, walking at least 10,000 steps a day has become the routine, which allows me to keep fit.
Ambition or talent: What matters more to success?
Neither. It is a drive to discover and explore that fuels everything. I do, however, keep in mind that undiscovered work is unlikely to be recognized.
How politically committed are you?
Less than I was in the past, even though some causes still deeply matter to me like Environment, Better living conditions for people in need and Animal protection.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
The most recent iPhone, but I think it is too large.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Escape for a few days to the seaside, the closest instance of which is about six hours from my home.
In what places are you happiest?
In Montréal and by the sea.
What ambitions do you still have?
Continue to create images and have a little more exposure for my photo work.
What drives you on?
Curiosity and the desire to discover.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
In my career at a local government, I had the pleasure to be a mentor to some of my colleagues. It was a way of giving back to others.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Nonchalance and general lack of care about much of what is happening.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would he think?
That he was lucky to live in that particular time and place, where everything seemed possible.
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
Nothing that comes to mind.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
The survival of democracy, “the worst system, if you exclude all others” in the famous words of Churchill. Not to succumb to populism or sectarianism, and this from both the left and the right.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Having been raised in a Catholic setting, life after life seems like an insurance policy.
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