Interview: Michel Tréhet on photographing the Radisson Blu Lyon

The Radisson Blu Hotel Lyon sits 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 hotel's renovation process, giving an interesting glimpse behind the scenes. Read our chat with the artist to find out more.

What fascinated you most about this project?

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.

Radisson Blu Lyon photo by Michel Tréhet

How would you describe your approach to photography, 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.

Radisson Blu Lyon view from outside by Michel Tréhet

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 full advantage: wait for the ideal light, capture particular 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.

What was your favorite part of the project?

I like to wander freely through the space, without constraints, observing, discovering and getting to understand the space 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 finalization, the printing: it all fascinates me. All these different phases of the creative process are complementary in the final result.

Radisson Blu Lyon view photo by Michel Tréhet

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

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 visualization, allowing for a sense of safety with respect to the final result.

Radisson Blu Lyon inside the logo, photo by Michel Tréhet

What’s your favorite photo of this series?

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

Radisson Blu Lyon from inside Crayon tower photo Michel Trehet

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