PROFILE

Maud Chalard

A woman in a long floaty dress stands on a rooftop overlooking the streets of Paris. Her arms are stretched out behind her.

Canon Ambassador Maud Chalard took this image as part of a commission for a French fashion retailer. "I had carte blanche. I chose a model I knew well, Alexia, and I knew she would be okay with getting on a roof with me. I love it when the models go on an adventure with me; when we go above and beyond for the love of the photo," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/5.6 and ISO320. © Maud Chalard

"I have always had a lot of love for the naked body, especially women," begins French photographer and Canon Ambassador Maud Chalard. "There is nothing more beautiful than the body of a woman."

Maud's love of the human form is only surpassed by her other passion in life: adventure. Although based in one of the world's most enchanting cities, the editorial and lifestyle photographer loves nothing more than to flee the Parisian cityscape and head out onto the open road. Maud finds and channels her inspiration during these trips, taking intimately tender and atmospherically charged portrayals of women.

"The thing I really like about lifestyle photography is the freedom that the genre allows," Maud says. "I can take pictures everywhere, capturing magical moments that I share with friends or the people I meet."
As well as appearing in her book, Joe's Road, Maud's editorial images have featured in a range of magazines and newspapers, including Libération and Charente Libre. Her photographs have been exhibited across Europe, and her work for advertising clients has been displayed everywhere from Paris' most prestigious department stores to the catacomb-like walkways of the Paris Métro.

"Many women write to tell me that they like the freedom of the women in my work," Maud says. "It makes them feel empowered and they thank me for it. I think women are happy to see women who are free with their emotions and bodies, naked on galloping horses or running through immense landscapes.
Canon Ambassador and editorial photographer Maud Chalard.
Location: Paris, France

Specialist areas: Editorial, lifestyle

Favourite kit:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
"Probably because I'm a very sensitive person with a lack of confidence, a lot of people tell me that my photos in turn are very sensitive." Maud continues. "I imagine this is one of the things that appears the most in my photos. Nowadays, I think of it as a strength."
A black and white image of a woman and man locked in an embrace on a Paris Métro platform. Behind them, a train speeds past.

Taken on a Paris Métro platform, which was closed especially for the shoot, this image is part of a series Maud shot for wedding dress designer Elise Hameau. "I wanted an atypical couple and Raquel and Juan were perfect. We shot until very late and they were awesome, it was pure joy to shoot with them. We also shot a 16mm video at the same time," says Maud. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM) at 57mm, 1/50 sec, f/3.2 and ISO1000. © Maud Chalard

Born in Charente in western France, Maud has always been inspired by her father's love of photography. Equipped with the camera he gave her, she taught herself how to shoot. "I started by taking pictures of my sister, my first muse," Maud explains. "I had the feeling that I could convey everything I wanted with one photo: the aesthetic, her emotions and, ultimately, a story. I realised that taking pictures made me happy."
A woman lies between the legs of a man who is sat on a rooftop overlooking a city skyline.

"I really enjoy taking pictures of lovers on rooftops," says Maud of this image. "I think there is something very romantic about it. Maybe it's being on top of the world. When we are in love, we rise up, we fly away, nothing is impossible and the world is ours." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens at 50mm, 1/100 sec, f/6.3 and ISO100. © Maud Chalard

As Maud entered the world of work, the revelations continued. After taking a degree in Visual Communications, she realised a career in advertising wasn't for her after all. "It was a very complicated period because I studied in the best schools, fighting to pass all the competitions, then I got the job I thought was my dream only to realise I wasn't happy," Maud says. "I planned photo sessions at the weekends that allowed me to 'escape' from the world of the office and to express myself. I started to evolve, to be recognised, and I was contacted by advertising agencies to take pictures for commercial projects. Unfortunately, I couldn't fulfil these orders because I was already working 35 hours a week. So I resigned and devoted myself to photography."

After handing in her notice, Maud jetted off to the United States for three months, where she travelled over 20,000km. "I took thousands of photos and, when I came back, I published them as a book and started doing exhibitions. That was it: my career was launched."
Do you approach your work for editorial and advertising clients differently?

"Absolutely. For the editorial part, I like to think about an idea, work on it, plan it and set up a team to create what I have in my mind and express myself exactly the way I want. I choose everything from the start to the end. For commercial work, I have to deal with the needs of the client and my artistic vision. I tend to be chosen for my aesthetic and often have freedom when it comes to art direction, choice of models, locations and so on. It is a balance between expressing myself freely with constraints."



What advice would you give someone hoping to break into this field?

"I think the most important thing is to work on the style that makes you feel alive – vibrate almost – and to really go for it. It's crucial that you listen to yourself and your instincts. Also, take a lot of pictures!"



As someone who suffers with confidence issues, how important is self-belief as a photographer?

"There are a lot of photographers today, many of whom do not suffer with a lack of confidence. If you shy away from an opportunity, one of those photographers will take it from you. So you must grab your courage with both hands and go for it. If you don't have confidence in yourself, then build confidence in your work. Ultimately, if you want to make a living from your work, then you have no choice but to show it and share it."



Where do you hope your photography will take you next?

"I can't wait to hit the road again and go on my next adventure, wherever that may be. I plan to set off for several months to meet people, share moments with them and immortalise them in photos."

One thing I know

Maud Chalard

"I think the main lesson my career has taught me is to always listen to myself. Learning to follow my intuition, even if sometimes it scared me, has got me where I am today. That's why I quit my comfortable job in the advertising agency. I thought it was my dream position, but I realised I wasn't happy. I knew that taking photos made me the happiest, so I left everything to do what I loved the most. It was very hard – I had a lot of anxiety and periods of intense stress – but it was the best decision I ever made."

Maud Chalard's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Maud Chalard's kitbag containing a Canon camera, lenses and accessories.

Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Designed to perform in every situation, the EOS 5D Mark IV is beautifully engineered and a thoroughly accomplished all-rounder. "I love this camera because I can trust it," says Maud. "I like the resolution of the images, the number of focusing points and also I know that even in low light I will be able to take my photos without being disappointed. What I particularly like is the volume of images the burst mode offers, as this is such an important tool for lifestyle photography. It allows me to capture spontaneous moments."

Lenses

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The successor to the lens Maud favours is a professional-quality standard zoom that offers outstanding image quality and a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range. "Even though I prefer fixed focal lengths I still need this lens, especially when I'm on a shoot where there is a lot of action but very little time. I can just zoom in quickly and change the focal length directly. So this lens is very useful and the zoom quality is really good," says Maud.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

A professional short-telephoto lens, precision-made for low-light shooting and those situations where extremely shallow depth of field is required. Maud says: "This has been my revelation for two years now. I always come back to this lens. I love using it for portraits because I'm always pleasantly surprised by the quality and the background blur. This lens also allows me to capture intimate scenes."

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

With its incredible f/1.2 maximum aperture, the super-fast EF 50mm f/1.2L USM is a consummate low-light performer. Maud says: "It's a safe bet for taking pictures of all subjects. I like its wide aperture and the sharpness of the photos it helps to produce. The subjects always stand out very well."

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

The latest version of the lens Maud uses is a standard wide-angle lens beloved by reportage photographers for its natural perspective, low-light capability and extraordinary optical performance. "I like to have this lens on road trips. It helps me to convey the story in a very cinematic way and there is no perspective distortion," says Maud.

Related articles

Canon Camera

Canon Europe Ambassador Programme

Find out how the ambassador programme works, and meet the phenomenal photographers chosen to represent Canon.

Canon Professional Services

Members get access to CPS Priority Support, both locally and at major events; a priority Fast Track repair service; and — depending on your level of membership — free back-up equipment loans plus return shipping and discounts on maintenance. They can also enjoy exclusive members’ offers.

Canon Camera