Spotlight On: Fred Tougas

Get to know the work of photographer Fred Tougas, who captures grainy, analog landscapes.

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Our weekly Portfolio Spotlight series is a close-up look at the talented people using Format websites to showcase their work. This week, we interview photographer Fred Tougas.

Although he calls Montreal home, you wouldn’t guess it to look at photographer Fred Tougas’ portfolio. His website is full of grainy shots from diverse locations that range from Italy’s Dolomite mountains to the streets of Tokyo. Mostly shot on 35mm or medium format film, Tougas’ travel photography is distinctly dreamy, more like the mysterious unlabelled postcards you find in antique shops than typical vacation snapshots.

Tougas works full-time as a freelance photographer, and says that he appreciates the mix of busyness and calm that characterizes freelancing. “There is always something work-related to do, like business development and reaching out to new clients, but sometimes I’m really busy for a week or two and then nothing for the next week,” he says. “And that’s quite alright because it gives me time to work on my personal projects.”

Refining his travel photography portfolio is currently a major goal for Tougas. “I don’t really travel to go on vacations. All the travels I make are oriented towards a photographic goal or series I want to work on,” he says.

On Tougas’ photography website, he uses Format’s Ora theme to showcase his photos in a vertical scroll that fills up the whole screen with each image. This close up look lets viewers see the full detail of grain and shadow in every shot, creating an immersive feel.

We got in touch with Tougas to talk about how he got into photography and to find out where he’s going next with his work.


How did you first get into photography?

I was still living at my parents’ house. It’s a period I’ll always remember because my father was diagnosed with leukemia at the time. To change my mind I would regularly leave the house in the evening to go wander around in my hometown with a shitty digital camera. Being in that very sensitive state of mind, I think I became very perceptive about my surroundings and that’s when I really started to experiment with the medium.

What camera(s) do you shoot with?

Different cameras for different subjects and approaches. I prefer working with film for a slower pace. I choose my Leica M6 for its intuitive side and my good old Minolta SRT-101 for more precision in my compositions. When I want to slow things down even more, I take out the Hasselblad 500CM or the Pentax 67. They’re huge but they deliver.

What do you hope viewers will take away from your photography?

Beauty is a natural state. Interesting aesthetics can be found anywhere, in the cities or in the mountains, as long as you’re a little curious and you take the time to observe your surroundings. I’d like my work to feed the viewers’ curiosity and sensitivity to their immediate environments.

How do you use your website to support your photo work?

Print aside, on my website is the best way to experience my photography. I’m able to build a flowing narrative through the way the images are selected and organized. The images I put up are huge and the viewers can really be immersed in them and see the details they wouldn’t otherwise. I’d definitely like people to look at my work on a computer screen more, rather than on their phone. Ultimately, it offers a great online gallery for people who would like to get in touch to work on projects with me or even buy prints.

What projects are you working on right now?

I just came back from a month in Japan to work on a couple of editorial photo series, one called No word from Tōkyō. I went there looking for the signs and aesthetics of a dystopian universe, a future that could be awaiting societies. All Hells is another photo series made in Japan with photographs of volcanic fumes spewing out of the ground in all kinds of shapes and shadows. I’m working on a photo book and an exhibition for these latest works.

Name two photographers we should be following.

Neil Krug (@neilkrug) and Marietta Varga (@mattivarga). They’ll keep you inspired for weeks.


Think your Format portfolio should be featured in our Portfolio Spotlight series? Send us a link to be considered.

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