Interview with Frenchman, Christophe Boulmé
Christophe Boulmé is a graphic designer, illustrator and self-taught photographer. He regularly puts his talents at the service of artists and signed the biggest portraits of Michael Jackson, the covers of his albums and the poster for the single Stranger in Moscow. He has published an exceptional book, publishing hundreds of unpublished photos. We found him in Paris. An unconditional fan of Michael Jackson, Christophe Boulmé began his career with the creation of photomontages and drawings inspired by the world of the singer. He doesn’t know it yet, but his works will become cult. Michael Jackson, seduced by the creative world of the “little French photographer”, gives him confidence. He gives you access to the backstage of his shows and poses for him. Christophe Boulmé, who does not speak English, only communicates with the singer with his appearance and gestures. He became one of the few photographers authorized to retain full ownership of his photos and enjoy complete freedom of action. Ten years after the disappearance of the Jackson legend, the “little Frenchman” opened his photo library to share his clicks with the world.
How did you meet?
It is the path of a life, it is very abstract, very complex. When I started, I was a fan. We had the ambition to build a magazine for fans, we fought for it to exist. Michael knew about my work, I had the opportunity to photograph it in concert. In recent years, I have been responsible for entire campaigns.
What you felt during that first meeting?
Michael was overwhelming in his naturalness, availability, simplicity. He was very touching, very polite, very attentive. As it was a photo shoot with him Michael was interested in my equipment, in the way I worked. It was extremely touching, very destabilizing. I had a great human being in front of me, interacting with me with the greatest simplicity, it was incredible.
Was he stressed?
No! I never saw him stressed with me. I was much more stressed than he was.
You don’t speak a word in English. How did you communicate?
We talked a lot with our eyes. From time to time, he would call me to come closer. He must have thought I was shy. We had a very intimate moment, with a very personal conversation, it was at the hotel in Los Angeles, when we talked about the projects. I spoke bad English, but I accepted it: his passion, his enthusiasm. I was so immersed in his world and we talked so much with my eyes that I knew in my head what I had to do.
You signed the covers for his albums and the single Stranger in Moscow. What were his requirements?
None! I remember Stranger in Moscow. I had an idea and proposed it. Michael’s “right arm” said to me, “Do it! And come and propose us! ” When Michael found out, he looked for a while and then said, “It’s beautiful!” Sometimes he made special requests. And even in those moments, I had absolute freedom. He was never directive. He and I never made money from it. I never made a single job. It offered me great opportunities. It let me work on its image all year. It’s not a record cover that would make a difference. Black and White magazine.
Michael Jackson left 10 years ago. Why wait so many years before publishing these pictures of him?
It’s been ten years since we heard all about him. It was time to stop being modest. I had a life, I worked hard, I had many rewards for this extraordinary man, he was an extraordinary artist and we forget him more and more.It was time for our history to show a little of what his personality was. “I never wanted to consider him pragmatically and retrospectively, nor see you as a creature only supernatural “, you write. “Peter Pan, half man, half woman, half child” …That’s how it is described. It’s excess! This makes him a little misshapen. “I saw it my way,” you continue.
What is your opinion of the man?
When his universe generated my inspiration, everything seemed normal to me. I never had an opening justifier. Michael showed himself to me as a complete, brilliant, sober artist. From the beginning, he knew what it would be. His “half man, half child” side seemed natural to me.
“Michael” HarperCollins France editions. By Christophe Boulmé
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Much Appreciation to Danielly Silva for her dedication and love of Michael Jackson.