Redlands photographer focuses lens on people 

By Patrick Brien

Riverside Arts Council


Whether he is shooting portraits or custom fine art, Redlands-based portrait photographer Marc Piron said that he is attracted to capturing what he calls the illusion of the soul in the eyes.

Sometimes it is the abstract and unconventional that he seeks in his work, which also includes travel, editorial and fashion photography.

It is great images, however, that have always invoked a thrill in Piron.

That is what drove him to begin taking photography seriously. Along the way, he has used his work to tell the stories of cultures, communities and significant societal issues.

Piron was born in the Netherlands in Utrecht, and raised in Antwerp, Belgium. In 1983, he moved to California because he thought it was beautiful and that it offered more opportunity than he could find in Belgium at the time.

Piron said that he is selftaught, though he has participated in some seminars over the years.

“Workshops are so much fun and provide a wealth of information,” he said. “You sit there with motivated photographers with similar passion, just great!.”

In 2008, Piron went to Cuba for a project that would lead to the publication of his book, “Havana Heads.” The faces he captured there were part of what he described as a photographer’s dream.

“Havana was great,” he said. “The people were friendly and photogenic. The visuals took you back to the 1950s. It was an also an embargo nightmare.”

Piron talked about how at the time there was no use of american credit cards.

“You paid ahead or paid cash for your hotel,” he said. “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t get your passport back so you couldn’t leave the country.”

One of Piron’s favorite projects was 2011’s “The Face of Redlands,” a homeless awareness campaign that raised money for the Youth Hope Foundation and Salvation Army. Piron developed the concept with Deborah O’Hara, owner of AboutRedlands. com. With the help of the Redlands Police Department, the project served to educate the community about issues surrounding homelessness. Through Piron’s photography, people became aware of the names that went with the faces they saw on the streets.

In 2015, Piron launched “The Youngbloods,” a second part to “The Face of Redlands.” The project featured 40 individuals under age 40. The portraits Piron took of them were exhibited and, like with the first part of the series, turned into a coffee-table book.  Funds were raised for the Redlands Art Association.

Piron’s fashion photographic work for Rust Vintage Denim can be seen in a cover story in Inland Empire Magazine.

When asked whether he prefers shooting in film or digital format, Piron said that while film is nostalgic and that some would say it has a soul, digital photography has surpassed analog in sharpness and caught up with its dynamic range.

As a longtime professional photographer, the advice that he would offer a young person looking to break into the portrait industry is to do their homework.

“Network, use social media, develop a style at least for a while and then change,” he said. “The camera does not matter as much as the lens. And get a small, soft box for your flash or strobe.”

Patrick Brien is executive director of the Riverside Arts Council.

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