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Phuket life: Paintographer Gerard Garson



PHUKET: Gerard Garson is a French photographer, now based in Phuket, who always wanted to be a painter and through his use of High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging he has managed to do both. He calls himself a paintographer and signs his work ‘Gast Garger’.

Gerard’s passion for photography started in1977, when he was a student working for the photographic studios of L’Oréal, assisting famous photographers to set up product shoots. Thirty-five years ago, the level of sophistication found today was not available to everyone and he quickly became fascinated by the possibilities.

“I remember one of my first jobs as an assistant – I was given a pair of scissors and a roll of Scotch tape as tools and felt a little disappointed as I wanted to get my hands on all the fancy electronic gadgets. Very quickly, however, I understood how important the scissors and tape were for masking out areas, dealing with light and shadows and holding things in place. Even today they are indispensable in my studio.”

Gerard’s current studio is situated in the heart of Patong where, for the past month, he has focused on portrait photography and helping models put together their portfolios.

“All of these ‘old school’ techniques in the eighties; with slides, film, negatives and even little pots of paint for retouching, have been very useful lessons for me. When I see a subject now, I visualize exactly what the end image will look like. Therefore all this training on constructing an image comes into play.”

Constructing an image is certainly one way to describe Gerard’s most elaborate works, which use a series of up to 20 under-and-over-exposed shots [bracketing] of the same subject to produce a painting-like effect .

His subjects range from local shopkeepers to iconic landmarks in Phuket, his chosen home for the past ten years. The set of methods used in image processing, computer graphics, and photography, allow a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image therefore highlighting details often overlooked. Many have noted that his hyper-realistic effect, which can takes days to complete, is reminiscent of Norman Rockwell.

“It’s true that I was influenced by a generation of illustrators who used airbrush techniques, by artists such as Norman Rockwell as well as photographers who shot in black and white. Maybe younger photographers are more at home with digital photography, but those lessons I learned when I had to manually mask off areas of a photo in a darkroom with scissors and tape remain.” says Gerard

An accomplished diver who has also specialized in underwater photography, Gerard is also sought after for his birds-eye-view panoramas of local real estate projects.

He is able to produce these shots using a 15-meter-high telescopic mast topped with his trusty Canon D5 camera (see W: This is linked remotely to his laptop computer, where he can manipulate the camera and rotate it through 360 degrees. How did he come up with such a system? Maybe some scissors and tape were involved.

Gerard Garson (Photographer) can be contacted on 0809-141-173 E:, W:

— Marc Mulloy


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