“A Day in the Life” of Fine-Art Photographer Olivier Du Tré

Olivier Du Tré is a traditional large format fine-art photographer.

Born and raised in Ghent, Belgium, Olivier immigrated to Canada in 2009, and now calls Calgary his permanent home. He credits his father for instilling the love of photography in him. Today Olivier is proud to own and use several of the very cameras that he saw his father use and explain to him when he was growing up.

The great majority of Olivier’s photography is practiced close to his home, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and the much flatter, wide open Prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Despite the many tools available for photographers to meticulously plan and scout photographic locations even before leaving the house, Olivier enjoys to just get in his truck and drive. Wandering and wondering until he comes across something that sparks his interest.

Once a scene has his attention, he hones in on exactly what attracted him in the first place. Using a large format film camera requires not only patience, but also a high level of precision, skill and close attention to detail. It is a slow and a very deliberate process. Unlike digital, where the results can be reviewed instantly, film requires the ability to see the final photograph in your minds eye. Olivier enjoys that way of working, from the creation of the negative to making the final print(s) ready for exhibition.

When Olivier goes out to photograph he doesn’t seek iconic scenes or locations. He looks for the unseen, mundane, and forgotten details we too easily pass by. Striving to create timeless photographs, he’s not afraid to work hard, nor to come home empty handed. He composes with incredible vision and confidence, aided by his expertise in graphic design (which is his daytime profession), his photographs are not about place, but about feeling and personal expression. In his own words, Olivier explains that: “I don’t tell the viewer what to feel, I merely offer a setting for their own story.”

Olivier Du Tré
When I see something I’d like to photograph, I usually grab my low tech viewing frame. It’s literally a piece of cardboard with a 4×5” hole in it. It quickly reveals the composition and lens choice.
Olivier Du Tré
I am attracted to a whole slew of things. Including wind fences.
Olivier Du Tré
Or the one odd thing out. This is a prime example of what I mean by that.
Olivier Du Tré
And sometimes, I find the coolest things on the road to nowhere.
Olivier Du Tré
Underneath the dark cloth everything is upside down.
Barn Sovereign, SK
Barn Sovereign, SK. This is the finished photo after the film is developed, scanned and printed.
Olivier Du Tré
On my recent trip to Saskatchewan, I was fortunate enough to spot this little, odd scene. I know it is going to make a really good photograph.
Olivier Du Tré
Saskatchewan is very pretty once you start to appreciate the beauty of the prairies.
Olivier Du Tré
Here is my time consuming workflow. A regular photograph takes about 15-20 min in total from setup to me making the notes. It also allows me to understand the subject that I am photographing a whole lot better.
Olivier Du Tré
Here is a sample page from my book ‘Seeking Stillness’.  The majority of photographs were made close to Calgary, Alberta, over seven years. The photographs in this book are not so much about place as they are about representing a feeling, a whisper, an impression…
Olivier Du Tré
Me in the middle of my current exhibition.


What ‘hood are you in?

I live in Bowness with my beautiful wife Dorianne and our 2 dogs.

What do you do?

I am a traditional large format photographer. What that means is that I still use black and white film (that I develop myself in my kitchen) and that I use a wooden technical camera (you know the kind with the bellows and the dark cloth your grandparents used). I also teach photography in private and group workshops and I enjoy having public speaking engagements on the subject as well.

What are you currently working on?

I don’t work in themes or projects. I am a reactionary photographer who just goes out, follows the light and photographs what he sees.

Where can we find your work?

You can find my work primarily on my website and I am also active on Facebook and Twitter.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to release a book through Rocky Mountain Books called ‘Seeking Stillness’. You can pick up a copy of my book in any bookstore, the Camera Store in Calgary or worldwide using Amazon or Indigo.

And I currently also have an exhibition on my work called ‘Olivier Du Tré: New Work’ (until Feb 28, 2020) at Hub@302 (302-1235 26 Ave SE ) which is part of the Exposure Festival in Calgary.