Lyon-based creative Marc-Henri Ngandu got into photography four years ago without any special triggering factor. He just went where his passion for fashion guided him. As founder and photographer of Croco & Co, a ‘talent’ agency composed of photographers and filmmakers aiming to become a production agency, he is documenting his own sense of beauty through his groovy and raw style. We spoke with him about his works and his intention to prove that Paris is not the only town in France capable of spotlighting great creatives.
Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Marc-Henri Ngandu. I am a twenty-one-year-old Lyon-based groovy photographer – and not a blogger.
How and when did you decide to be a photographer?
Maybe four years ago. I started to shoot a lookbook when I realized I was better at directing, so I started to take pictures very naturally. Just this, nothing crazy.
What do you like about fashion photography?
I like fashion photography because it’s not just about the clothes; it’s more than that.
What is your main source of inspiration as a French photographer?
I think it’s music. No, I’m sure it is. The clothing, location, environment and model can help me take pictures, but music is the one that inspires me and drives me crazy – I love the '70s and ‘80s groove, although I enjoy any other genre.
Do you have a favourite camera to shoot with?
I don’t want to make an ad (laughs). But I learnt photography with a Nikon, so I still shoot with it. I just use reflex or the first numeric camera because I’m not patient enough to use a film one. I need to see what I do, and then do it again if necessary.
How would you describe your photography style?
Real. Natural. Bad. I don’t use Photoshop while editing because I want to show people that I take pictures of how beautiful they are. Even if editing is good to hide imperfections, I don’t want any modifications on skin or shape because well have those imperfections. And it’s cool like this! I don’t want to show a lie.
Is there a special vibe in your photographs that you would like to conceive?
I think that my last answer can work here too. I want to keep it natural, it doesn’t matter if I take portraits, pictures about feelings, clothes, water or an ass. I want to show people how beautiful they are and understand it. One of the main problems with social media now is that some people want to be like someone else and end up forgetting to be themselves.
Tell us about Croco & Co. What is it? When did you decide to create it? What was the idea behind the project?
At the moment, Croco & Co is a Lyon-based ‘talent’ collective made of young creatives working as photographers and filmmakers, mainly. I created it three years ago with my two young brothers, Raphael and Louis. As an anecdote, my family name means ‘crocodile’, and we wanted to share our values with others, especially with young people. The goal is to become a production agency with creative profiles working on visual arts, music and more, and I think it’s possible because we take a new step every year towards that direction.
Recently, you worked on a project with Jordan Brand not as a photographer, but as a stylist. Tell us more about it.
I think it’s important to let others be at the top when you’re working on a team and you’re the boss/leader of it. It’s about ‘we do’ instead of ‘I do’. So when Jordan asked to be the photographer, I agreed on the condition that I could do the ‘shadow work’, and also if after that, another photographer of the team – like Alex or Motoki – would be in charge of the next shooting. And after seeing the result, I saw the strength of my team and convinced myself I did the right thing.
How do you handle your creative life between photography and styling?
I know how to mix clothes together for myself, with my own vibe and vision. And sometimes it works on other people. But I don’t really think I can consider myself a stylist. Usually, I just help other members of the crew in some projects. I’m the one with more clothes, so I just bring two or three suitcases.
We’ve seen in many of your channels that you highlight not to be from Paris. What’s the reason behind it?
Because I’m a creative from Lyon, bitch, and very proud of it. When foreigners think of France, they only think of Paris. And many French people are ashamed to say they come from the ‘provinces’, so I think it’s my mission to highlight this.
What are the next steps in your career?
Making money. Obviously, I want us to keep completing a lot of interesting collaborations and features to make us grow and reach our goal to become a real production agency, which one day will be able to make money.