There are only a few corners of the Earth Christian Maillard has not seen. He describes himself as an "energetic traveller", and has visited around seventy-five countries to date. On holidays, as well as on personal business trips, new, interesting horizons are always opening up for the legendary French photographer.
It is usually not the great and glorious sights, but the small, seemingly marginal details that capture his eye, which has been honed over the years.
Maillard is very deliberate about his choice of motifs: He works with conservative technology, and changes his analogue, black-and-white film after thirty-six pictures, as is customary. "It's good for discipline," explains the artist, "it means that I think twice before pressing the shutter or not."
Over the course of his career, Maillard has never used more than two rolls of film per day. Nevertheless, he still manages to take a considerable number of pictures. His archive contains "57,600 photos," he unhesitatingly avers. The speed of his answer indicates that he must have counted more than once.
Maillard’s style is conservative, "classic," as he calls it. He has never wanted to revolutionise photography or pursue entirely new approaches. Rather, his ambition has always been to take "good pictures."
Even though Maillard—who taught himself photography—also refers to works by great photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and André Kertész, he still mixes these inspirations with elements of his own life, revealing his intimate view of the world in the process.
The French photographer’s first monograph, published by Hatje Cantz, bears a title typical of him: Photographs, and features pictures from the years 1996 to 2016. An introductory essay by the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) journalist and photography expert Freddy Langer also integrates Maillard’s work into art history.
All images courtesy of Hatje Cantz | Main image: San Francisco, USA, 1997 | © Christian Maillard