If you’ve ever had a look through the images of luxury chalets on our website, the chances are that you will have seen at least one photograph by Yves Garneau. Yves is one of the leading photographers of luxury chalets in Europe. It isn’t just chalet interiors that Yves photographs though. He also takes amazing panoramic and action shots. I recently caught up with Yves to find out more about the man behind the lens and the amazing photos that he produces. Here is what he had to say…
How did you get into photography and in particular chalet photography?
My passion for photography began in the late 90’s after I left Ottawa, Canada (where I grew up) for the west coast to do a ski season in Whistler, B.C. During that season a friend of mine showed me some snowboarding photos he had taken with a proper SLR camera. It was then that I realised I had to start taking photos myself. I started off with a point and shoot camera loaded with slide film. After a few months of shooting friends snowboarding and lots of mountain scenes, I put on a little slide show in my living room with another friend, who was also a keen photographer, and was thrilled by the reaction we received. I was hooked! I spent the next few years honing my skills, upgrading my equipment and submitting photos to winter sports magazines. I worked any job that would allow me to spend as much time shooting on the mountain as possible. A few years after I made the jump to Verbier, Switzerland the ball started rolling. I was finally living the dream, shooting extreme skiers and snowboarders in exotic destinations all over the world.
The shift to chalet photography came around 2007 when the director of a small chalet company approached me and asked if I’d be interested in shooting a new property they’d acquired. I was available, keen, and decided to try something new. Little did I know at the time that this small chalet company would turn into one of the biggest chalet companies in the Alps and that my transition towards this new avenue was imminent. It was time to step up my game and re-hone my skills.
When photographing chalets, what do you feel sells a chalet holiday best?
Aside from all the thoughtful styling that goes into each property, I try and bring out the unique quality of each chalet, through my photographs, that will help sell it best. Having said that, everyone is looking for something different. Some are more concerned with location whereas others require privacy and want the feeling of being lost in the mountains. It’s my job to show what that property has to offer and how it will feel when you’re experiencing it.
How has photography equipment and technology changed in the years that you have been in the business and how has it helped to improve the quality of your photos?
The very first interior photos I ever shot were taken with a film camera. I shot hundreds of photos just to make sure I had the right exposures and angle. Now, we are able to see the results straight away. The technology has developed so much, since purchasing my first digital camera, that I can hardly remember how I did it before…well I can but I prefer not to. And then there are the drones. As a result, nowadays, everyone is a photographer, even if they are only shooting with a smartphone.
You don’t just take photos of chalets. You also have some amazing panoramic and action photos. Do you have a favoured style of photography?
At the moment I’m into my interiors. I know it may sound funny to some and my friends often joke that all I shoot are luxury bathrooms, but after an amazing run of shooting extreme skiing and snowboarding, I feel like I’m ready to put that aside, for now at least. I still get up on the mountain regularly but my tolerance for risk and seeing people do crazy things has diminished greatly. Call it getting old or becoming a parent but I’m happy to stick to the property photography.
Do you have a favourite individual photo?
I can’t say I do. I’ve been very fortunate to shoot with some amazing people in many wonderful locations. All of those shots share a special place in my heart. Speaking as a parent though, my favourite shots are of my family and kids.
What are the key things you look for when taking a photo?
If I was to describe my style I would use the words pure, symmetry and vivid. I like clean lines and bright colourful scenes. When shooting, I look for a well balanced composition leaving nothing to interpretation. I don’t seek abstract scenes as I want my photos to tell you the story straight away without any ambiguities.
As a photographer, how important is social media to you? What platforms do you use to promote your work?
For me, social media is fun tool for communicating what I’m up to or what I’m feeling at a particular moment. Sometimes I find myself sucked into it while other times I need to step back and just let it happen without me. I do acknowledge it’s benefits but I also feel it can dull the senses. As a photographer it is essential that I utilise these platforms to share my work with my audience. It definitely has value but I’m still trying to figure out how much weight it carries. The platforms I use mainly are Instagram and Facebook.
What made you want to move to the resort of Verbier?
After I moved to Whistler, B.C, I became completely obsessed with snowboarding, in particular, off-piste riding. During my second season, I met a friend who told me stories of Europe and all the amazing resorts that were dotted throughout the Alps. He spoke very fondly of the amazing Swiss resort of Verbier so it didn’t take long to convince me and a few of my friends to make the leap. I landed in the resort of Verbier in September 1997 and never looked back!
Thank you to Yves for such a great insight into what it takes to be a great Chalet Photographer. I’m sure you’d agree from looking at the images throughout this blog that Yves clearly has an eye for a good photograph. Yves really helps our valued clients choose the best chalet for them by bringing the chalets to life in visual form.
If any of the chalets featured on this blog have caught your eye or if you are interested in any other chalets that we feature then feel free to get in touch. We would love to talk them through with you in more details. You can call us on +44 (0) 1202 203 653 or alternatively you can send us an email.