The Belgium-born image-maker's new book paints a compelling portrait of his life and travels
There are some books so magnetic that it’s impossible to pass by them without picking them up to peer inside, and such is irrevocably true of The Other Day, a new publication by Belgium-born photographer Quentin de Briey. For starters, it’s enormous: an A3-sized hunk of paper sheathed in glossy, diary-like sheets of photographs, ranging from black and white snapshots of a lover stretched out sleepily on a bed, to Tyler the Creator’s cheeky grin peering out mischievously from an armchair. What’s even more enticing, however, is that on opening the weighty tome, de Briey’s reader discovers that this haphazard, chaotic and decidedly intimate format extends onto every page inside. Friends, acquaintances, picturesque scenes and quirks resulting from the developing process diffuse across and over the edges of every spread, collaged together so as to give the impression that you’re standing on the photographer’s bedroom floor, surrounded on all sides by loose images. This might be as close to really doing so as we, as readers, can get.
In actual fact, the book was directly inspired by notebook-keeping, the photographer explains. “The idea was to gather up my diaries, pictures from my skateboarding days and the pictures I take during my fashion jobs and when I’m travelling around, and put them all together in a book.” As such they are defiantly un-chronological in their organisation, spanning many years of de Briey’s work. “Some pictures are from my very first camera actually, taken 25 years ago, but most of the book is from the past ten years,” he continues. “They are just random diary pictures. The making of the book was relatively quick – it took less than six months.”
As for The Other Day’s original layout, that came down as much to the sheer quantity of the images as it did to de Briey’s partner in crime, art director Jean-Baptiste Talbourdet-Napoleone. “We met working together for a French client,” de Briey continues, “then we did a few shoots together for M le Monde. A few months ago I realised I needed someone to work on the editing with me, and JB is a killer, so I called him and I'm glad he was happy to work on this project. It's interesting to work with somebody else, as I've seen all those pictures too many times!” Working on full collage-like spreads rather than a more selective layout allowed the pair to include as much of the edit as possible. “There were just too many, actually,” he concedes.
Part of the joy of looking through The Other Day is in the exuberance of its selection – together the hundreds of images contained within it build a portrait of the life of the professional skater-turned-photographer, and of his endless travels around the world. “I take pictures almost every day,” de Briey says of his practice. “Some end up on my Tumblr, some on Instagram. Some reappear when a project like this comes up, and some get lost forever in the chaos of my archives.”
The Other Day by Quentin de Briey is out now, published by Yvon Lambert.