An interview with Alan Gignoux

August 19, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

An interview with Alan Gignoux



Gignoux Dinosaur Adventure Park, Clifton Hill,Niagara Falls, Ontario

Copyright - Alan


RH: What attracted and inspired you to your current documentary project?


AG: My current project, Human Accumulations, looks at the long-term effects of exploitation by industry and tourism of Niagara Falls and the surrounding landscape. Once an icon of Nature, the Falls have now become a poster child for environmental pollution and a Rustbelt casualty.

The project was inspired by my ancestor, Regis Gignoux, who was a member of the Hudson River School, a nineteenth century painting movement that celebrates the beauty and majesty of the American landscape .  He became well known for his paintings of Niagara Falls, one of which now hangs in the US Capitol.  

Working with curator Jenny Christensson, I am developing an exhibition and a photographer’s book.


RH: Can you talk us through the planning stage for your project?


AC: Following thorough research into the Falls from their discovery to the present we decided to make our first of several visits to the area.  

We knew that we wanted the story of the Falls today to be told by local people and so we planned several interviews with city officials, business leaders and residents.  

As the focus of the visual part of the project is the landscape of Niagara Falls, we researched and identified significant sites and marked them on a map so that we could work efficiently once there.  

In the end we made four trips to the Falls, deepening our understanding and building on our archive of stills photography and video material as we went.  Working with Chloe Juno we are now editing all our material and working on a book draft and exhibition concept.


RH: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?


AG: Always research the project until you think there is nothing more to research! There is always something new to learn.  Also, make sure you narrow down the focus of your project as this will make it stronger.


Implementation and Completion

10th and Ferry Streets, Niagara Falls, New York.

Copyright - alan

RH: How have you dealt with any challenges and difficulties within your project?


AG: One of the greatest challenges with this project has been to communicate a very complicated story and make it interesting and accessible without over-simplifying it.  We have spent considerable amounts of time editing and re-editing both the photographic and the video material.


RH: How long do your projects tend to take from start to finish?  


AG: We started the project in 2017 and we are still working on it! Who knows when it will end! I worked on a project with the British Council entitled, “Homeland Lost – The Palestinians” from the time I pushed the button on the Hasselblad for the first time to the last exhibition, was a total of six years! 


Editing and Sequencing

Ferry Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Copyright - AleanGignoux

RH: Do have several images to edit of one fleeting moment or do you have one well-constructed precise image that you have captured?


AG: I have a mixture of sequence shoots and the one precise image. Usually, the sequence shots are of reportage and the precise images are landscape.


RH: Within the editing stages, have you felt the project has taken on a different narrative than first envisaged?


AG: Yes, I have always found my projects are completely different to what I initially envisioned – which is exciting.


Tips and hints 

Hornblower Cruises, Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls.

Copyright - Alex Gignoux

RH: What would you recommend for people starting their own photographic project?


AG: If you can make sure you have funding in place; I realise this is not always possible and where necessary I have used income from commissions to cover the costs for my personal projects, but I try to secure as much grant funding as possible up front.


RH: Does the camera really matter?


AG: Of course, today, it is so exciting that there are so many different mediums you can use, from a drone to a mobile phone, but of course the Hasselblad still lives on.


RH: Any books you would recommend reading to get the creativity started?

AG: The Art of Seeing - Berger


RH: Would you recommend attending photography workshops?


AG: Photography, like any other industry is always changing so I would recommend attending workshops to keep up with technology but to also get inspired!


Skylon Tower, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Copyright - Alex Gignoux

If you have an intresting street project or documentary project please leave a comment below



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