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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Pierre Toussaint

AUGUST 13, 2019 | WORDS BY PIERRE TOUSSAINT | @PIERRETOUSSAINT


Hailed as one of Australia’s most sought-after exports amongst the photography set, British born, Australian raised Pierre Toussaint has carved out a name for himself capturing some of the world’s most well-known faces. Famed for his calm directive nature on set, Pierre’s ability to capture people and places in the most intimate of ways has seen him snap the likes of Bella Hadid, Lara Worthington, Miranda Kerr, Hailey Baldwin to name but a few. Having become well acquainted with travel throughout his career, Pierre can regularly be found globetrotting behind the lens for the likes of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Chanel, Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Levis,

We recently had the pleasure of working with Pierre on our two upcoming collections, La Rose and Femme Elan, both shot in Sydney, Australia. We caught up with Pierre to talk inspiration behind his portraiture and his life away from the lens.

How did you first come into the world of photography?

I was studying fine arts at Uni and wanted to do something more practical so took a unit in photography at TAFE, following that I did a post graduate in media. I was working in retail whilst studying and a guy I worked with at the time was a model and asked If I could take test pictures for his portfolio. Off the back of this, his then agent, Perth based-stylist / producer Des Eddy, asked me to shoot some of the models he has on the books - it all snowballed from there.

Who are the photographers that inspire you the most?

Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Viviane Sassen. All amazing. But I’ve been looking a lot of street photographers as well lately. I recently saw an amazing exhibition in LA on early hip hop photography which really stood out.
What have been your greatest accomplishments to date so far in your career?

I did a shoot earlier this year for Versace, I have worked with Jerry Lorenzo from Fear of God a few times and found him to be such an inspiring and humble guy. I recently returned from shooting a campaign for Tommy Hilfiger on Mustique Island in the Caribbean which was a crazy experience. I’ve been very lucky to work in this industry and get amazing opportunities like that. But honestly - I live in Sydney these days and I value and appreciate everyone I work with. It’s a tough industry for longevity so you have to be constantly appreciative. In terms of personal work, I held an exhibition earlier this year in Tokyo which was centred on space craft and meteorites, which I had been shooting for a year or so. It’s important to have personal projects.

You recently held an exhibition “CASTINGS” in Sydney, Australia, how did this come about?

Canon and Sun Studios invited me to do another show and I was going to do the Space exhibition that I had just shown in japan, but having recently moved house I found a whole lot of my old casting portraits & images – a lot of those faces who are now big name talent, so I decided to centre the entire show on that material. It was actually really great because it was completely about the talent and not the imagery in a way, the formats being very mixed in a range of quality; film, early digital, hi-res, old iPhone pictures. It was a really nice way to get those pictures out there and presented in a gallery context.

"I’ve been very lucky to work in this industry and get amazing opportunities like that. But honestly - I live in Sydney these days and I value and appreciate everyone I work with. It’s a tough industry for longevity so you have to be constantly appreciative."

You travel all over of the world for your work, where has been your favourite shoot location that you have travelled to?

I was in Mustique Island last weekend which was quite amazing. Fiji the weekend before that was also incredible. I shot a tv commercial at the pyramids in Egypt a few years ago… I’ve been very fortunate.

What are three things you can’t travel without?

I’m pretty predictable. iPhone, laptop, and I always wear compression socks when I fly, which makes me sound incredibly old, but I honestly cannot recommend them enough!

You recently shot the latest Versace campaign with Bella Hadid and Lucky Blue Smith, what was it like being a part of a production with some of the biggest names in the industry at the moment?

It was great, and also very quick. We had Bella for about 2.5 hours, and then shot Lucky on a different day - he’s an amazing guy and so calm. Bella was lovely, she introduced herself to all of the assistants and said goodbye to all of them by name - very rare and professional celebrity behaviour. Obviously it was amazing to work with a team like that at such a level.
After returning from a shoot what is the first thing you do when you get home?

Say hi to my wife and kids! They put up with me travelling for work a lot, so after landing our ideal day involves going out for breakfast & coffee before the school run.

When you’re not working what do you enjoy doing in your down time?

I love being with my family. We’re a bit of a wolfpack and spent a lot of time together. I think being a photographer you’re mentally never not “working”, but I do have other things in the pipeline – one of which is a film project I’m working on at the moment.

What music/artist are you listening to right now?

I’m currently sitting in a cafe in LA and they’re playing old Tupac.
You grew up in Perth WA, when you come back home where is the first place you go?

Quite often we’ll head down to the beach as soon as we land - City Beach or Cottesloe

How do you juggle a successful career that entails so much travel and balance your family life at home?

My amazing wife in Charlotte would be pretty much the only answer for that.