This exercise asks you to choose some suitable small objects that you can break! An old toy, some rotten fruit, a shirt or a balloon filled with water would all work well. The point here is to freeze a fast-moving object in an otherwise still location. You must get the object in sharp focus to reveal the detail of its disintegration and movement. Choose a suitable location where you won’t make too much mess. Aim to frame the object quite close, with the environment around it. You’ll need to frame the object in front of a background that helps to emphasise it visually: that could mean a complementary colour (e.g. red against green) or an opposite tone (light object against dark background or vice versa). Before you start, research the freeze-frame photographs of Denis Darzacq at Do an online search for Harold Edgerton’s experiments. These photographers give you images that would be impossible without the mechanism of the shutter.

Ensembles 1998-2001 – Initial thoughts – Random, candid, unplanned, lines, people in lines, lines on road, lines of railings. Appears to be non specific and non focused, but has frozen movement of all people in the frame, no blur, fast shutter, smaller aperture f11-f16 as a guess – no metadata to check against.

E006Fig 1

Lachute 2005 – 2006 – Initial thoughts, people, lines, frozen movement, staged, no candid, planned and purposeful capture of movement of people performing acrobatics. The freeze of the movement has an ethereal feel and makes people look like they are flying, floating. So the intense movement that’s required to perform the acts, becomes a moment of peace and tranquillity. The use of lines is similar to how an artist uses mark making, but he uses it in a manner that highlights uniformity, solidity, structure to provide a stillness as a counter balance to the movement that he captures.

Hyper 2007 – 2009 – Lines, people being shot (they are not but there movement makes it looks like they have suffered an impact. Completely frozen. Fast shutter speed. F7 or wider, blurred backgrounds, object in focus. Again staged and planned. There is a demonstrable progression in planning, technique and performance from earlier works. “Hyper opposes bodies in movement and the saturated, standardized space of mass distribution outlets. In this totally commercial setting, the body’s leap expresses the freedom and unhampered choice of its movement. It is a clear challenge to the marketing strategies which seek to control our behaviour. Some of the figures, glowing with an aura, impose glory and give off a sense of spirituality in total contrast with the temples of consumption in which they are found.” (Hatt; 2012) I do not see this in the series at all. I do not see unhampered movement or an aura of spirituality, I see forced movement as if the person is being shot, which is a very specific but uninhibited movement.

My view is partially agreed with by Amy Barrett-Lennard in lensculture “Not all these bodies are in calm repose, however. There are those caught as if in the aftermath of a violent act — a punch, a throw, a kick. Darzacq tells me that areas around Rouen have had a bad reputation for youth violence — and so here we see this played out quite dramatically, almost ballet-like in the clinical, normally “safe” environment of the hypermarket.” (Barrett-Lennard; 2008)

Hyper-07-72 2007Fig 2

Hyper 2010 – Lines as marks, bouncy castle, weightlessness, introduction of more vivid colours, fast shutter speed, continuous focus, continuous shooting. These were not captured as single shots. The position of the actors within their movement and jumping evidence this. It would have been impossible to time such perfect shots. I suspect that he took several hundred photos and then chose the best for the series.

HYPER-24 2010Fig 3

Act 2 – 2015 – Further development that shows how he has built upon previous work. He has included actors to perform so that he can freeze the movement in his own unique style, but got them to do so in public as street photography against the back drop of people getting on with their daily living.

Act2_07 2015Fig 4



Fig 1 Darzacq, Denis; 1998; Ensemble 06; Online at (accessed on 20/07/2017)

Fig 2 Darzacq, Denis; 2007; Hyper no 7; Online at

Fig 3 Darzacq, Denis; 2010; Hyper no 24; Online at

Fig 4 Darzac, Denis; 2015; Act 2 – 07 Mickael Lafon; Online at

Barrett-Lennard, Amy; 2008; Hyper – based upon remarks she made for the opening of exhibitions by Denis Darzacq at the Perth Centre for Photography, 5 April 2008.; Online in  at

Hatt, Etienne; 2012; Biographie de Denis Darzacq; Online in at (accessed on 20/07/2017)


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