During an exceptional 35-year career, he has worked on major advertising campaigns here as well as in New York and Paris, and his photos have been featured in the biggest magazines. “I was self-taught when I began taking pictures. In those early years, I travelled the world looking for light, framing, people, and the beauty in things.” Uninterested in technique or photography school, he let himself be guided by his sensibilities. Instincts, talent, and an affinity for others took care of the rest.
Although smartphones snap more pictures than ever, true photography is still a rarity. Lussier continues to work for certain magazines, but he now devotes more and more of his time to art photography and is very upfront about the labour required to create each one of his prints. “The work done with new software and digital photographs is comparable to what used to be done in the darkroom.” The tasks of adjusting the colour palette, sharpening blurred areas, highlighting movement, or selecting the right paper for a printed photo all demand professional expertise and, above all, a trained eye. An open admirer of the work of Paolo Reversi, Sarah Moon, Deborah Turbeville, and celebrated fashion photographer and portraitist Richard Avedon, he notes, “Photography is very respected in some countries.”
When asked what it is that sets art photography apart, Lussier starts with the idea of experimentation. “With art photography, one can go in any direction, explore, use software to work on an effect, and select a special or artisanal paper that is matte, glossy, or textured.” He recognizes that there is sometimes a fine line between art photography and fashion photography, especially in the case of artists who have used their vision to elevate the profession. It is easy to draw comparisons between the careers of some of these photographers and that of Lussier as he dives into his archives of the past 35 years to extract the most remarkable images and make large-format prints. Having moved his studio to the Belgo Building on Sainte-Catherine Street, he is planning to open a small art gallery in the space to exhibit his limited-edition works. “I am working with photos that no one has ever seen.”
Over the years, the photographer has become more demanding of himself, trying to infuse a bit of magic into an art that has unfortunately been rendered commonplace by social media. “I am focussing on large-format prints, using museum-quality paper, and European frames because I want to make people more aware of the art of photography.” To get the big picture of this art form, it would appear that a closer look at Lussier’s images is in order.