Have you met... Pierre Coupel?

Pierre Coupel is a nature guy. A scientist that has another passion: photography! He is the living proof of how to combine your job with your passion: he is a scientific photographer.

Pierre on the action.

Pierre likes being in contact with nature. Many members of his family have a background in biology so, he always had contacted with nature and especially with water. That’s why he studied oceanography and has a PhD in the Arctic Ocean and climate changes. During this journey, he found his passion for photography. After the PhD, he just wanted to study the Arctic Ocean and there he could take pictures and make movies all the time. He believes in the power of a good picture, and that his photographs are being used as messages. Currently, he is under a transition period, he just finished his last contract as a scientist and now he is a full-time scientific photographer.

Which are the needed characteristics that scientists should have to transition to a career in photography?

First, great sense of observation and curiosity which actually comes with science. You need to discover what you really want to do. The things that I learned through my science studies and career I can apply now! Aso, you should be optimistic about the future, when you’re changing.

Although you’re working in photography, you never left science behind. So, do you have a guess of what will be the major breakthrough in science in the next 20 years?

I find amazing all the progress in medicine. The ability to culture cells and create organs, such as skin, or parts of bodies, without using dead bodies, it’s incredible! On the other hand, I must mention all the progress within the self-medicine fields, such as meditation.

If you weren’t a scientist photographer, what would you be doing instead?

Probably, I’d be working as a filmmaker. Actually, I already do this but just science-related movies. I want to explore other topics, such as fiction!

When you were a kid, did you want to be a photographer?
Hum... I wanted to be a butcher [laughs] but I don’t know why!

In your opinion, scientific photography is more similar to scientific illustration or with science communication?

Hum… illustration. It’s a way to put in one image what we want to show. It’s a different way to show the facts. Actually, our brain memorizes better images than words!

When you have a day when all your pictures weren’t as good as you’d want, also the light wasn’t helping and so on…what is your strategy to relax?

Sports! I really like to go climbing. But if for some reason I can’t do sports, I like to read! But what really calms me a lot is painting because that is a task that requires all my attention.

Which advice would you give to an undergrad or PhD student that is confused between the passion for photography or passion for science?

I think at the beginning we don’t have to choose between these two passions. It’s very important to study and you can do photography as a hobby. If you feel you are good, you can try to go more and more in this field. One piece of advice that I should give is the importance of focusing on the topic of your photos!

HAVE A NICE 2020, guys!
Our third year of PhD is starting now but oh my science keeps going :)

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