Interview: Michel Tréhet about photographing Radisson Blu Lyon

After a long renovation period, Radisson Blu Hotel Lyon opened its doors again this weekend in the city’s sky-high Tour Part-Dieu, boasting spectacular views over Lyon. Renowned French photographer Michel Tréhet, who has a penchant for architecture and has exhibited his work in Paris, Berlin, and New York, documented not only the beautiful new premises, but also the renovation process, giving an interesting glimpse behind the scenes. We’ve had a chat with the artist about it all.

Why did you agree to do this project? What fascinated you about it?

I studied architecture and am currently working on a project named “Archisable”, thought up by Martine Tina Dassault, where architects such as Bredan Macfarlane, Roger Taillibert, Christian de Portzamparc and Antoine Grumbach express themselves on the sand of the Deauville beach. In this context Radisson Blu’s Lyon project seemed like another chapter in my longlasting relationship with architecture. When discovering this Tower of Babel, eight hotel floors topped by a glass pyramid, a clear reference to technology, I felt a certain harmony with my photographic language.

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How would you describe your photographic approach, in general and in this particular case?

Photography is a means of expression, which transmits emotion, imagination, memories. It’s a beautiful way of telling stories. The story here is beautiful, graphical and strong, because the space is so unique. My role is to show it in its best light, without artifice, in black and white.

How do you bridge the gap between your artistic integrity and a brand’s requirements?

In my photographs I accompany the creation of the architect, I have to understand it. It’s a source of inspiration, and I need to present it to its advantage: wait for the ideal light, capture moments of life… all these things play their part in constructing the image. The Radisson Blu concept is perfectly in sync with this approach, and the multiplicity of the alcoves is the kind of graphical particularity I like to work with.

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What was your favorite part of the job and what was the biggest challenge?

I like to freely wander through the space, without constraints, observing, discovering and getting to understand it before starting to shoot. I often snap a few photos with my cell phone to identify the angles. But at one point the passion takes over. The moment of shooting, the retouching, the finalisation, the printing: it all fascinates me. All these different phases of the creative process are complementary in the final result.

Which camera did you use? Do you prefer to shoot digitally or analogue? Why?

I work with the Nikon D4S and Nikkor lenses, all digital. All prints are done with Hahnemühle 325g FineArt in the Digigraphique category. Today, professional digital photography has obtained an exceptional quality in HD while permitting a live visualisation, allowing a sense of safety regarding the result.

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What’s your favorite photo of this series and why?

During a shooting like the one for Radisson Blu, I try to make a photo early in the process which serves as an example and establishes the quality I want to reach. It sets the bar, so to say. The photo below is one of my favorites because of its graphical aspect and because it represents the architectural composition as a whole.

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