MESAGI (pronounced ME-SA-JI) is the combination of my first and last name. I’m a self-taught artist-photographer. I’ve been a Parisian since ’91 and my beloved city is the main subject of my photography. My purpose is to show you the real Paris with my street photography. The one I see in the streets, with both its scars and smiles. Please read my story below if you’re curious to learn how I met photography.
It happened during the summer of ’22. After years of failures and depression. I’ve found myself broke and lost in my late 30s. What could I do if I couldn’t even get a crappy part-time job? It’s the kind of moment in life when you feel like a doomed loser.
During these times, I was an NFT maker under the name of ALTRLTY. And I had developed an appetite for art creation. Luckily, this led me to the purchase of a few books about drawing and photography.
It’s in one of these books that I saw a shot from street photography legend Daido Moriyama. It was an emotional shock! I’ve been exposed to black-and-white through the countless movies I watched. But it was the first time I ever felt so strongly about a photograph! This shot made me fall in love with black-and-white photography! From one thing to another, I discovered street photography and it was my second crush.
I took a bet and committed fully to the subject of my newfound passion. I bought a Ricoh GR III, more books, and practiced. When I started out, I had no particular skill or talent for photography. But skills can be acquired with practice. Talent can be born and blossom from experience. These shouldn’t be used as an excuse to give up. It wasn’t easy but my bet paid off. Although I’m still broke, my life was never as fulfilling as it is today because I focus on what I love: street photography in black and white.
I shoot exclusively in black and white because it’s closer to my feelings and personality than color photography. Black and white has the power to simplify reality. This bodes well for me as I don’t want to be bound to the common subjective reality that is imposed on us through our societies and our media.
My style is dark and atmospheric. Imbued with my emotions. I shoot directly in black and white to be faithful to the moment when I’m immersed in the scene. To the atmosphere enveloping me. To the feelings beating inside me. (And not in color with a conversion to monochrome done later on a computer.) Once the photograph is taken, nothing is done to improve it or correct it. You get it the way it was created.
All my shots are taken with my Ricoh GR III used with the manual and Av modes. I don’t use any auto-focus. I always use the manual focus to have more creative control.
Regarding human subjects. In France, you can’t capture and distribute pictures of people where they’re identifiable without their authorization. So, no street portraits. Street photography is harder here because of this restriction. Instead of limiting my creativity to people’s will, I chose to approach human subjects differently. From the back, from the side, partially. So, I have more freedom.
My main influence is Daido Moriyama, he’s the one who got me to love photography. I’m particularly a fan of his compilation book Records published in France. Black-and-white movies always made a big impression on me. To cite a few: In The Soup (1992) by Alexandre Rockwell, Le Feu Follet (1963) by Louis Malle, The Stranger (1946) by Orson Welles… Music and my feelings of the moment are also part of my influences.