I decided to start a new series called “People in Climbing”.
This is my way to share the stories of the people in the climbing industry who inspire me.
Whether they are other photographers, athletes, editors, writers. Climbing unites us all and I want to share that energy.
So today, with joy I kick off the very first in this series of features.
This one is for François Lebeau an adventure photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I first noticed his work via Instagram, checked out his feed, then website and well here you have it.
On the surface there are some beautiful action images. Climbing, cycling, slacklining, hiking.
But there’s something I noticed straight away that I sincerely appreciate. There’s something that isn’t nearly as common.
Throughout, it seems François is able to weave in the climbing lifestyle.
Walking myself through his website or his Instagram feed. Is like stepping through a never-ending day of good climbing with friends.
Maybe you already know François. Perhaps you’ve worked with him, shared a rope, maybe you are friends. I’m sure you’ve seen his work in Climbing Magazine, and other notable climbing spots.
In case you haven’t. Learn a little bit about François below. Check out his website, and give him a follow on Instagram.
Q: How did you get your start in outdoor media? What was the turning point when you realized you could turn it into a profession?
I always did it because I liked it. As many climbers with a hint of artistry in their blood, photography is a great medium to join both interests. I did the same when I started climbing and decided, at the end of my photography studies to choose for my final student exhibit, a series of 3 climbing images. I never stopped doing it since then. I shot for a long time after this my friends and strangers at the cliff just cause I loved it. Being outside, working with the natural light, capturing an intense moment of somebody else and sharing it with them was a treat for me. It allowed me as well to develop my vision and style, how I approach the scene and how i want to picture the line or the light.
Q: As a creative business owner how do you structure your days?
I take care of my days with 24⁄7 proactive todo lists that I update all the time.
Not just stuff that I need to do but, most important, stuff that I want to do. And I take them off the list(s) when I do them.
So you can imagine how long my todo lists are.
Q: Who inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
Galen Rowell. He was the first photographer that I’ve done a research on and was fascinated by his choices of subjects.
Keith Ladzinski and Tim Kemple also, and still to this day, inspire me in their photography and in their career path, seeing where it took them.
I have a lot of collegues who are inspiring me as well. A lot of people out there have talent and vision. I really enjoy to see what people come out with (and very excited when I see a RAD shot by someone else)
Q: What is your biggest challenge as a creative?
Making it a living. It is a challenge but also such a great motivation to keep pushing my limits.
Q: Where and how do you work best?
When there is a strong feeling of trust between me and my subjects.
Q: If you had to start your business over what would you do differently?
Start seriously way younger. Instead, I travelled and climbed a lot.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned along the way?
If you want to be satisfied of what you are putting energy in, you should invest most of, if not, 100% of your energy in it.
Q: What has been your hardest and most rewarding project?
My hardest project was last fall with Jacopo and Barbara when they were doing the Zodiac on El Cap.
It was just A LOT of work, but so rewarding. I still need to refine my jumaring technique though even after I jumared El Cap twice.
Q: What are your biggest outdoor fitness/adventure goals for the next season?
I’d love to do another alpine climbing adventure/shoot. But to do that, you need to be in good shape so you are not (so much) of a burden to your people you are doing photos with.
So basically, getting my fitness up. And also send a 13a. Never have.
I hope you enjoyed learning about a little bit about François. Check out his website, give him a follow on Instagram.
You can read more about the Zodiac project with Jacopo and Barbara that François mentioned here.