by Paola Cecchini

Fifty High Seasons

Shane Lynam is an Irish photographer, he studied Politics and Economics at University College Dublin before completing a MA in Documentary Photography at Newport School of Art, University Wales in October 2012. He had been featured in many influential magazines as The Guardian, The British Journal of Photography, ID Magazine, Der Spiegel and New Irish Works.

He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the publication of his photobook Fifty High Seasons which is a culmination of a seven years of work giving the chance to pre-order the book in advance and offering many other rewards.

Between 2010 and 2016 Shane made several trips to La Mission Racine, a place in the South of France, to tell the story of this urban planning project initiated by President de Gaulle in 1963. The urban project aimed at turning the area into a holiday and leisure destination, providing a new source of income locally and offering affordable summer holidays for the masses.

The photobook describes the interactions among people and urban places, portrayed by the highly involved eye of the photographer.
In this short interview we talked about how to become a good photographer, pastel colour palette and Dublin. For more info about “Fifty High Season” Kickstarter campaign!

Tell me something about Shane as a photographer. And after tell me something about Shane as a human.
I take two to three photographs that I like a year. It’s important to become a good human before you become a good photographer.

Where does your attraction for pastel colors come from?
My colour palette evolves slowly over time depending on the cameras I’m using and the places I’m shooting. Pastels crept into my work quite early on and became important while making Fifty High Seasons which is set in towns where pastel colours feature heavily.

You have been shooting many cities in your career. What would you communicate with your city tales?
With my city photos I’m trying to find a new fresh way of seeing a place. I want to go beyond stereotypes and find beauty in the overlooked or the banal.

Dublin seems melancholically happy. What is Dublin for you? What are your feelings about this city?
Dublin is a functional city for me. The temperature is never too warm and rarely goes below zero in the summer. It’s a good place to get work done. It has obvious physical limitation but limits can be a good thing sometimes. I’ve lived here on off during my adult life. Each time I move back it feels like a different place.

In the end, what should a photographer do to be a good one?
Shoot every day for at least two years. Look at photobooks. Live as many experiences as possible. Shoot some more. Only then should you start to show your work to people. Make sure to show it to people who might be interested in your work.

«In 1963 President de Gaulle initiated a grand project, known as ‘La Mission Racine’, to develop a stretch of French coastline between Montpellier and Perpignan into a series of coastal resorts. Ahead of its time, innovative architects were hired for each town to construct unique and unusual spaces adapted to the local environment. It aimed to turn the area into a holiday destination centered around leisure while offering an alternative source of income locally.
At the centre of the plan for one of the towns, Port-Barcares, was a unique and ambitious plan to permanently ground a retired cruise liner called La Lydia and convert it into a nightclub. The project has undoubtedly been an economic success, however, La Mission Racine was not only about enriching the region. It included an 18% quota of social housing to allow more French citizens to take advantage of their ‘congé payé’ (paid holidays). There was a real determination to provide an alternative to the expensive Cote d’Azur without the excesses of similar developments further south in Spain.
I first visited the area, while living in France, in 2007 and was struck by how different it looked to the picturesque villages often associated with the south of France. From 2010 to 2015, I made regular trips to the seven towns involved documenting how the area looks today, 50 years on. Although some of the original promise has faded and the infrastructure is beginning to show its age, the central values, particularly the idea of offering affordable summer holidays for the average citizen, remain key to how the area is managed.»