World: My portfolio - Marc Gouby

It's ironic that the photographer Marc Gouby, who has won so many plaudits for a series of portraits, as seen in the "veteran" poster campaign for PlayStation, was originally interested in still-life photography. After ditching the guitar ("I realised I was never going to be Hendrix"), Gouby turned to art, studying at the Beaux Arts in Paris. But a latent interest in photography resurfaced and then became on obsession. "At first, I didn't think I could make a career of it. You needed a studio, equipment ... it seemed inaccessible."

As a first step, Gouby got a job as an unpaid assistant to Christine Pugeaux, the art buyer at Grey France. He got to meet and learn from the best advertising photographers in the business. By the time he left Grey, he had an impressive portfolio.

Gouby says his career has been driven by personal enthusiasm. For instance, a seven-year love affair with Scotland - where Gouby often returned to shoot brooding rain-swept landscapes - evolved into a series of ads for the whisky brand Clan Campbell. Scotland sparked a passion for extreme terrain that has led him to Africa, Greenland, Iceland and Japan - as well as deep into the French countryside.

"My only problem with the (advertising photography) business in France is that people put you into boxes," Gouby confides. "For a while I was 'the still-life photographer'. Then I was 'the Scottish specialist'. More recently (following his gold Lion-winning work for Nissan in 2002), I was offered lots of work involving cars."

Gouby has tried his hand at everything - nudes, wildlife, landscapes, people, places and automobiles. The common thread is an almost obsessive rigour and an emphasis on detail. The success of the PlayStation shots depends on a subtle blend of lighting, tone and the expressions on the faces of the players. Did Gouby realise it was going to be a hit?

"When Jorge Carreno, the art director at TBWA\Paris, approached me with the idea of war veterans that were actually kids, I knew it could be something special. Good ideas bring out your best work."

- Marc Gouby was talking to Mark Tungate.


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