Chennai-based French photographer Pascal Reynaud on how he has clicked with Chennai, its people, places and all things beautiful…

Every artist needs a muse. For French graphic designer-turned-photographer Pascal Reynaud it is Lola. His portraits of Lola are full of life; her eyes hold a world of questions, and perhaps the answers too. Intense, beautiful and, yet, serene. “Lola, my six-year-old daughter is quite often my model. My muse,” says city-based Pascal. Pascal is quick to acknowledge the role of his wife, Magali, who, he says, has been supportive of him and his work.

Pascal’s pictures of star hotels and swanky interiors now appear in magazines and advertisements. “I came to Chennai more than three years ago,” Pascal says. “In Chennai, there are a lot of artists – photographers, painters, dancers, singers – who do interesting work. They inspire me.”

He is also an inspiration to many who think about switching careers but don’t for the fear of failure. “I started taking pictures professionally a year ago, when I decided to turn to professional photography because of my background as a graphic designer. I was 44 then!” he adds. Now, Pascal has big names such as Park Hyatt and Hilton Chennai among his advertising and commercial photograhy clients.

Pascal’s first client in Chennai was Hilton. “My agent Ramesh Chandnani sent a mail to the general manager proposing a unique angle to their advertising. It got accepted and then I got to shoot their restaurant Ayna and the food. The shoot resulted in some amazing pictures. One thing led to another and here I am,” he adds.

Pascal has an interesting collection of artistic portraits of Suresh and Ram Kishna, who run an interesting dance-theatre enterprise, ‘Tanjore Quartet Art Dance Theatre’, in Netherlands. The brothers who perform the traditional dance of the Isai Vellalar community learned from their mentor and inspiration, Guru K.P. Kittappa Pillai of Thanjavur. “I met Suresh and Ram Kishna at a private show in Chennai. I shot them during this show. They saw my photographs and invited me to do some shots of them in dancing poses amongst the rocks of Mamallapuram,” Pascal explains. “In my work, I get to meet different people and learn many things from them,” the photographer muses. In fact, Pascal says he has learned a lot about India and its nuances from his clients. In photography, he likes “the eternal challenge of capturing the beauty in people, in places and in things. I can see the beauty in one and in everything so I try to capture it in my photography”. Pascal’s repertoire includes portraiture, commercial, advertising, fashion and architecture. Ask him about India and pat comes the answer, “I like the fact that life is lived day to day and I get to live my day ‘fully’ here! In France, we often live in the future and we are always worried about it. And in the process, we do not enjoy the present...”