Wanderer’s Paradise

An Interview with Featured Artist Roger Camp

By Art Editor Kristin LaFollette

A French friend pointed out that I was a ‘flaneur,’ which the French define as ‘those who take advantage of a wanderer’s paradise: the streets of the city, filled with charming shops, stirring landmarks, and ephemeral encounters.

–Roger Camp

How did you become interested in photography? Which artists/creators inspired you?

My mother had a collection of old Coronet magazines from the 1930s. A significant portion of the magazine was devoted to art (especially black and white photography). There was a French photographer whose images impressed me with their simplicity and dramatic use of light. I was ten years old at the time, but I can still recall some of the images even though I no longer remember the photographer’s name! 

Like many of my contemporaries, I was heavily influenced by Edward Weston. Daybooks, his autobiography, made the life of an artist look extremely appealing. As I matured, numerous other photographers contributed to my visual education, such as Strand, Stieglitz, Lange, Bourke-White, Kertesz, Cunningham, Cartier-Bresson, and W. Eugene Smith. I carry hundreds of images in my head made by various other photographers as opposed to a large body of work.

These photographs were taken in France, and you mention you’ve “spent the last three decades walking the streets of Paris, often photographing store windows of interest.” Why Paris? Why photograph store windows?

I first visited Paris in 1975. I found it extraordinarily beautiful. The architecture plus the 37

bridges that cross the Seine (many of which are works of art) should entice anyone who loves beauty. Couple that with French food and twenty-two art museums and it is hard not to fall in love with this city! 

When I returned two years later, I realized very quickly that I was exploring the same streets as I had earlier. A news seller sold me a wonderful little book of maps that showed all five thousand streets in Paris and fit in my back pocket. I deliberately tried to walk different streets each time I visited to make new discoveries. A French friend pointed out that I was a “flaneur,” which the French define as “those who take advantage of a wanderer’s paradise: the streets of the city, filled with charming shops, stirring landmarks, and ephemeral encounters.” My next trip to Paris will allow me to finish walking all its streets. 

Shop windows in France are very different from those elsewhere. They aren’t limited to displaying items to sell. The personal interests of the owner are often reflected in the items selected for the window display. Objects become reflections of identity.

What story does this series of photographs tell?

Mannequins (a French word) have a long history in France. While these images are connected superficially by subject, each has its own narrative. Based on the way the images are framed, each could be seen as a tableau. The mannequins are being cleverly substituted for human beings to draw attention to the window displays as well as to encourage the viewer to see specific objects for sale.

In some images, there is a glare and/or glimpse of an object, building, street, etc. reflected in the window glass. How are these reflections contributing to the meaning each image conveys? 

I think it’s important that the viewer sees these images as part of a larger world since there is a world outside the window as well as inside. This prevents the glass or window from becoming a barrier. Instead, it invokes a sense of scale and adds dimension to what otherwise might be viewed as a limited space.

You are the author of three photography books. What is the focus of each book? Where can we find more of your work?

My first book, Butterflies in Flight, was modeled after a classic Japanese wood block print book called 1,000 Butterflies. Like the original, it is an accordion fold book which stretches to nearly forty feet when unfolded. I spent two years researching butterflies and collecting the most beautiful examples in the world. The book contains 300 of those I collected. Using Photoshop, I attempted to make the butterflies appear as if they were in flight. To enhance their natural colors and designs, the butterflies were presented against a solid black background. 

My second book, 500 Flowers, was designed with the idea of creating an imaginary garden where plants from around the world could be presented in the same context. Like the butterfly book, I spent several years photographing in botanic gardens as well as growing numerous plants to acquire images of particularly stunning flowers. 

Heat, my third book, captured blocked images from an adult film channel. The images were deliberately distorted to prevent unpaid viewers from watching the films. I found the resulting colors and shapes to be far more interesting as abstractions.

My work can be found at the following links:

Do you create other forms of art? What projects are you currently working on?

I consider poetry an art form and, as a result, have been practicing it seriously for over a decade (after a forty-year hiatus). I began as a poet but decided to choose photography over poetry when I was younger, knowing that I would return to poetry eventually. I write daily.

Access Roger’s featured art portfolio here.

By Kristin LaFollette
Kristin LaFollette is the Art Editor at Mud Season Review. Her artwork and photography have appeared in Armstrong LiteraryWest Trestle ReviewThe West ReviewThe Magnolia Review, and others. She is the author of Hematology (winner of the 2021 Harbor Editions Laureate Prize) and Body Parts (winner of the 2017 GFT Press Chapbook Prize). She received her Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University and is a professor at the University of Southern Indiana. Learn more about her work at