Bird’s eye view

Zahle-born pho­tog­ra­pher Cle­ment Tan­nouri shows the rich­ness of Le­banese land­scapes through his images. He speaks to LT on tak­ing pho­tos from above, his love of the West Bekaa and why he re­turned to his home­land

Lebanon Traveler - - A DAY WITH - clement­tan­nouri.com Clé­ment Tan­nouri - Chas­seur d’in­stants

Cle­ment Tan­nour i’s photography is like a love let­ter to the land­scapes of Le­banon. His work fol­lows the chang­ing light and sea­sons, show­ing flocks of sheep as the r ising morn­ing sun hits the green fields, blan­kets of wheat that stretch as far as the eye can see dur ing har vest time in the West Bekaa, and pines that del­i­cately stand on spindly trunks. He also shows Le­banon’s r ich lands from an aer ial view, which, af ter be­ing in­spired by renowned pho­tog­ra­pher Yann Ar thus-ber trand, has be­come his trade­mark. In a he­li­copter, with the Le­banese army in tow, he cap­tures views from above of vast green forests that still cover much of the countr y; the patch­work of agr icul­tural fields of the Akkar re­gion and tra­di­tional red-roofed houses in vil­lages that perch on the moun­tain­side. His pho­to­graphs of fer a dif fer­ent per­spec­tive, show­ing scenes that are eas­ily missed while dr iv­ing along high­ways.

PHOTOGRAPHY RUNS IN THE BLOOD.

“At two years old run­ning around with a cam­era was a ca­sual act. When flip­ping the pages of a photography al­bum in France and see­ing th­ese beau­ti­ful pho­tos of Le­banon, a sen­sa­tion over­whelmed me. This sen­sa­tion urged me to cap­ture beau­ti­ful mo­ments when I vis­ited Le­banon with my par­ents. Cap­tur ing Le­banon’s beau­ti­ful scener y gave me that sat­is­fac­tion and pushed me to fall in love again and again with photography.”

TAN­NOURI WAS DRAWN BACK TO LE­BANON BE­CAUSE OF HIS LOVE OF THE COUN­TRY.

“I feel that I have a lot of po­ten­tial that I need to ex­ploit on Le­banese soil. I wanted to contr ibute to spread­ing Le­banon’s beau­ti­ful im­age to the out­side world. I know that it may be hard to be­lieve, but, in France I felt too or­di­nar y; a boil­ing en­ergy kept drawing me back to Le­banon. I think it was the cr y of help that I heard [from] Le­banon, a cr y that I couldn’t ig­nore know­ing that I had the ad­e­quate tools to help in spread­ing Le­banon’s breath­tak­ing beauty.”

HE FINDS LAND­SCAPES AND WILDLIFE RE­JU­VE­NAT­ING.

“As you can imag­ine, it’s God’s most ex­quis­ite paint­ing. When talk­ing about na­ture, it’s pure and ever chang­ing. You never have the same scene; na­ture changes within sec­onds. Ever y minute is pre­cious, ever y scener y is spe­cial and ever y pho­to­graph you take is unique.”

HIS FIRST PHOTOGRAPHY TRIP IN A HE­LI­COPTER WAS IN 2006. IT PRO­DUCED THE MOST BEAU­TI­FUL PHO­TOS HE’D EVER TAKEN.

“It was a dif­fi­cult task since a spe­cific au­thor iza­tion was needed and [there were] many com­pli­cated pro­ce­dures to fol­low. I took many pho­to­graphs that I thought were not good enough. You could say that for me the whole tr ip was dis­ap­point­ing; I was pass­ing through a dif­fi­cult time and couldn’t see things clearly. I was mis­taken [though] be­cause af ter a while, and when ex­am­in­ing the pho­to­graphs again, I re­al­ized that they were some of the most beau­ti­ful pho­tos I had ever taken in my life. They re­mind me of ver y in­ti­mate mo­ments and re­vive many emo­tions.”

IN THE SKY EACH SEC­OND IS PRE­CIOUS.

“Pho­tos taken from above are so sa­cred. There’s col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween [me] and the Le­banese army that needs to be high­lighted and a lot of men­tal con­cen­tra­tion. The mar­gin of er­rors should be null. You can never pass through the same scene and shoot at the same an­gle twice not­ing that the land­scape changes within min­utes depend­ing on the weather and wind’s speed. Many nat­u­ral fac­tors come into play. In ad­di­tion to the men­tal con­cen­tra­tion there is a phys­i­cal en­durance [in­volved] since the wind’s speed and in­ten­sity are rel­a­tively high.”

FOR TAN­NOURI, CHOOS­ING A SHOT IS NOT ABOUT THE BEAUT Y, IT’S ABOUT FEEL­INGS.

“98 per­cent of the time the in­ten­sity of the scener y is what mo­ti­vates me to take the pho­to­graph. This may sound odd, but it’s the se­cret dia­logue that I have with the scene. [It’s the] se­cret stor y that it holds, the se­crets that need to be re­vealed.”

THE WEST BEKAA HAS A SPE­CIAL PLACE IN HIS HEART.

“It is by far the most mag­i­cal place to take pho­tos. It has an ex­traor­di­nar y beauty and the na­ture is just breath­tak­ing. Mount Le­banon is pleas­ant as well but ever y time I go and shoot in the West Bekaa I get carr ied away by its al­lure.”

Tan­nouri catches Jounieh Bay at the golden hour

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