Pascal Lecoeur is a commercial peddler. He travels around the countryside neighborhoods of Caen to sell his vegetables to people unable leave their homes. Each month, he visits more than two hundred people and benefits from those moments of downtime to take photographs.
His favorite clients are “ordinary people that we don't normally talk about. We don't see them, we don't hear them, they are ordinary people who have worked all of their lives for the misery of old age. These people here do not think (as Brel would say) They prey...”.
And Pascal is their gateway to genuine affection. He is not a voyeur. He is a conservative, nostalgic for an era soon to be the past: “Where one speaks to us about sustainable development, of trading millions of euros… Them, they do not need anything. They know how to live without waste, to live out of their gardens, using their wood stoves for heating. They are a dying breed close to extinction, a species of our design, in the lands withdrawn, not very far from the big cities where, simply put: you live like that...”.
It is this simplicity that Pascal expresses in his photography. Alone or in pairs, his characters sit throned in the middle of a universe frozen in time. Pieces of family furniture made from wood or formica. Oil-cloth walls with cracking yellowed wallpaper, the interiors form an integral part of the composition. They affirm the passage of time that unrelentingly remains unchanged.
Like generations before them, the people in Pascal's photographs wear blouses and aprons, while going through the patient gestures of preparing meals, making coffee, everyday things. Taken head-on, we face all of their humanity, their generosity. “When they pose for me, it is not forced. They give everything in their gaze, it's their way of making me happy. Me, the small vegetable who hides his passion for photography”.
But it does not hide so well? For over twenty years, Pascal has cultivated his love for the image. He got his first camera at seventeen, a “Pentax Spotmatic and its 50mm entirely manual”. He then discovered the artistic and technical difficulties that he had to solve on his own. The photo-club that he created along with the encouragement of a teacher in the village, encouraged him to persevere.
In the beginning with only three or four staff members from the neighborhood. The discussions, exhibitions and outings enabled him “to not stay isolated and to make progress”. Now, the photo club of St-Aignan of Cramesnil counts about twenty members and an impressive track record.
In 2007, he came in second place in the French Cup for color paper and second place in the national class 1 for black and white. Pascal is very proud. He has succeeded in developing photography in rural environments surrounded by people he loves and with whom he can pay tribute. His photography is social, he creates and gives a place for those who are not in the main media stream : “I wanted to get them to talk, to give them happiness, to see them smiling, laugh at themselves, which very often they just can not do. When I ask them if they want to pose, they are astonished at first, but then they say yes, quite simply, happy...”.
His photographic influences are like him, in love with humans. He cited Salgado for the social aspect, Plisson for maritime passion, Willy Ronis for nostalgia. He affirms, it is without regret that he “would have liked to take photographs in their time”. Because the work coming in 2008 will undoubtedly be viewed with desire in the decades to come.