Renaud Lafrenière’s “Dis-Moi Des Belles Choses”
By Brienne Walsh
The French phrase dis-moi des belles choses roughly translates to “tell me beautiful things,” an apt name for a series about a love affair that photographer Renaud Lafrenière had while traveling in France in the summer of 2015. He won’t give many details about the love story itself; instead, he wants viewers to see universal themes of travel, discovery and intimacy in the work. “I want the images to open up for the viewer,” he says. “I want to let him or her see what they want to see.”
Taken with color film on a Nikon F60 and a Mamiya 7 II, the photographs are evocative of summer love. Dreamy and softly lit with natural light, they focus on seemingly insignificant details that together, tell a story of both place and experience. Images of a family gathered around neon green and white sailboats are combined with close-ups of rings on a hand, a sheer pink curtain over a window and a pretty girl smoking a cigarette.
Lafrenière didn’t take the images with the intention of creating a body of work—he only saw their potential when he reviewed them after his trip. It was at Concordia University in Montreal—where he is studying to receive his BFA in photography—where he developed them into a cohesive series. “I felt that there was more to them than souvenirs,” he explains. “I realized I could create a story with the pictures, one that is different from the story I lived while I was there.”
From a total of 200 images, he chose 36 photographs for the final series, which he plans on self-publishing in an edition of 100 books. He says: “I have a strong story, and I feel like if I keep it for myself, it’s not useful. I want to share it with people.”