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Meet Christian Fleury

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christian Fleury.

Christian, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in Freiburg, Germany, just a few miles from the borders of both France and Switzerland. My mom is German and my father is French. Somehow, from early on, I was drawn to the United States. Growing up in the 80’s, it was all about the American Southwest and California for me. All the movies, TV shows, it all happened here. I was and still am fascinated by the landscape and vegetation here. In Germany, there is no desert, no Pacific Ocean, Joshua Trees, Redwoods or Saguaros. I still remember the first time I arrived at Monument Valley and experienced my first monsoon storm.

My Dad was a hobby photographer and always had his SLR camera with him. So actually I was introduced to photography early on, even though it was generally in front of the camera. Before I was ten years old, I got a used “Agfamatic 100” camera, but it needed those special, expensive film cassettes. So, that operation got shot down pretty quick.

While growing up, and actually throughout my life, skateboarding was one of my things. I was also into BMX. From early on, I loved looking at photographs in magazines, catalogues, and books. Seeing all those great images, my big dream was to become a photographer and live here in the U.S. When I was 17, I was a foreign exchange student on the east coast, in Simsbury, Connecticut. I took photography classes in high school, which was/is not possible in Germany. Shortly after I came back home to Germany, I knew for sure I wanted to be a photographer. A while later, after finishing school, I applied to an advertising photo studio.

The next four years, I was trained in the traditional way of film photography and the wet darkroom. In Germany, we have this thing called a “dual system”, where you work as an apprentice while going to school. It’s like 70% working in the environment you chose, and 30% school. This was right before digital photography started. It took me a bit to adjust, but then I adapted to the new world of photography. Today, I truly enjoy the ease and the endless possibilities of the digital darkroom.

After I graduated, I moved to Berlin, where I worked as a freelance sport and press photographer for different sports agencies, newspapers, and magazines. In 2003 I moved to the United States, the San Francisco Bay Area, where I met my wife. After all these years, I can happily say, I still love it here very much and still enjoy road and camping trips, exploring, and seeing new things.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think everyone has obstacles in their lives that they have to overcome. Some more, some less. It depends on your personal attitude, is how to see it. I once read that you can go through a difficult situation with anger and frustration or rather positively, with a smile. I try to be a positive person. Of course, that does not always work, lol. Changing the country or in my case the continent is never really easy. Although the US and Central Europe are closely connected, there are many cultural differences that you have or should learn. I’m lucky I have a loving wife who supports me, plus great friends who are there for me. Professionally, I think it is a bit more difficult at this time because photography has become a mainstream product. Everyone thinks or wants to be a photographer.

A good example is a real estate. So many real estate agents are taking the pictures themselves with their cell phones, or people try to save some money and just crop themselves out of a group photo to post it online for use as a profile picture. I mean come on, if you post images on a dating or business site, you represent yourself. I understand that you also want personal pictures in there, but at least one of the images should be taken by a professional. It makes for a better impression, at least I think so.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
Taking pictures and some retouching. I photograph all kinds of things, mostly people though. I love taking pictures of people in all kinds of diversities. I love natural light photography. I’ve been in this industry for a long time and have worked in many different fields of photography. I worked as a photo assistant in fashion and studio photography. Like I mentioned earlier, before moving to the states, I made my living in Europe as a sports photographer, mainly soccer, but I also shot pictures at the Tour de France, tennis, and golf tournaments, etc. I was on the judging panel of a world-wide panoramic photography contest for five years. I really enjoyed judging photos.

I work closely with a great company from Chicago, Panoramic Images. They specialize in panoramic format with large-sized images for wall coverings, billboards, etc. At one point in my career, I only shot in the panoramic format with medium and large format cameras, for stock and fine art print and posters. I still enjoy shooting panoramas, but don’t do it as often anymore. I do still go out and shoot landscapes, slowing the world around me down and enjoying mother nature. It’s very calming. If someone wanted to hire me for a road trip photoshoot, I probably would not say no. Driving through this beautiful landscape looking for special backgrounds and sceneries to shoot in.

Childhood Memory. What is your favorite memory from your Childhood?
Wow, there are many. I had a nice, protected childhood. It was not always easy though. What I do think a lot of is, how I grew up very close with some of my cousins, the ones who are around the same age as me.

We where more like brothers and sisters. I come from a big family. We always did everything together, from way early on, until in our late teens and twenties. Like walking together to kindergarten, halfway through town.

In today’s world it seems impossible to send your 5 year old walking through town to go to kindergarten. We built tree houses, went on bike excursions, swam in lakes, rode our skateboards downhill, built little jumps and ramps, for our BMX bikes and got in all sorts of trouble.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
1. Kelsey Amber IG: @kelsey.amber17
2. Jade Harman IG: @_mhmm.jadee
3. Phillip Holmes IG: @pihlliprobert
4. Rita M.
5. Landysh Karimova IG: @landysh_mua
Portrait of Christian Fleury taken by: Paul Freeman

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