If you’re a Montrealer who attends any kind of event, you’ve seen photographer Sylvain Granier, you probably just didn’t realize it. He sprung up, off went his flash and then he was gone before you even knew he was there.
Whether he’s collaborating with MTL Blog, Nightlife, Igloofest, Piknic Electronik or just shooting for himself, he’s always PartyWithSylvain, the guy with the camera and the nose to sniff out the craziest shit-show at the party. His collection of his favourite shots can be found on his website, where you’ll find not only your standard hot girl doing shots, but awesome-looking people with style and downright hilarious moments in time.
With the city’s craziest party months ahead, we asked Granier about being a fly on the wall in the grittiest spots in town;
TT: I’m looking through your website and it’s obvious your subjects trust you. It looks like either you’re always at the right place at the perfect time, or that you have a gift for making people go wild in front of the camera. How do you explain it?
PWS: Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t do much, I’m just myself. I think people feel at ease around me because I’m sincere and my size can make me seem innocent, which really works in my favour. When you’re small people don’t give you much attention, they can forget you’re there. But when it comes time to take a photo, you’re there. It even happens that I want to take a picture of a beautiful situation but the subject says no, but I usually take it anyway, smile and thank them and it usually works out.
It’s been a long process also, in 3 years of work you make contacts and you see the same faces at night. When people know the guy behind the camera they feel more comfortable because they know my work and we’ve established trust.
TT: Trust is so important. So many party photographers just take the easy route shooting only naked girls with big tits or groups of juice heads holding bottles, there’s no relationship! You manage to capture everyone at the party, even the bored girl leaning on the bar. What exactly are you looking for in a subject?
PWS: Everything! I find the most dull moments to be more important than the rest. The person hiding in the corner deserves the same attention as the person dancing in the middle of the bar. I’m not looking for anything ordinary, it doesn’t interest me. I like entering people’s bubbles, getting up close. I’m not interested in posed photos of people with their 300$ trophy champagne bottles, it’s lifeless, soulless and boring. People ask for group photos sometimes and I do it so they don’t get pissed, but they never get published. I’m looking for natural, sexy, trashy details. I’m looking for life.
TT: I feel like Winter is dead and Spring brings life to the city, or maybe it’s just me who doesn’t go out when it’s cold. How does the heat effect your photos? Does everyone just go batshit for the next 4 months?
PWS: It’s true that less people go out in the winter, but there’s always tons of parties. It doesn’t really affect my photos except for the fact that women wear less clothing when it’s hot, which always looks great in a shot. Summer brings in new heads like tourists and new students, so I get to photograph fresh faces. Bloc parties and festivals are everywhere, and they’re gold mines for shooting.
TT: That’s what Montreal is becoming known for. What’s your favourite kind of party or event in the city? I guess what I’m asking you is who throws the best parties?
PWS: I love festivals and big events, but unfortunately I have to say I don’t know all of Montreal’s nightspots. I rarely go to clubs, I usually go to the same places like Blizzarts, Salon Officiel, Newspeak, Saintwoods parties, Apt 200 and The Velvet are the places to be.
TT: Sounds like every local’s dream team. Finally, who would be your dream performer to follow around and shoot for the night?
PWS: I don’t know really, maybe Diplo or Skrillex, but It’s more about the event. I would love to shoot at Holy Ship, every Mad Decent event, Fools’ Gold Day Off, those kinds of events. If I had to choose an individual I would say Shash’U, I actually followed him twice in NYC and MIAMI last year but I have to do it again because he’s really nice, talented and a great human being.
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