François Vendiol: ‘Looking on the Brighter Side of Life’

In the 80’s, 5-year-old Francois was having fun taking pictures of animals and other subjects around his home with his Father’s Polaroid camera. His early memories are filled with images of adventures, including those of Africa where he visited with his parents.

In the ancient French city of Nimes, Francois experienced an exotic, imaginative and unusual time growing up. As the sole child of his parents he had the opportunity to greatly explore his imaginative and creative side.

A ‘Special Job’

It’s not everyday that you find a photographer or Artist having a ‘special job’ as how Francois describes it. The reality and concept of Death has caused him to appreciate life in a way that is probably above average. As a Coroner, he has no choice but to face the images of death, and not to mention living in front of a cemetery or even the fact this his Mother runs a funeral home. You would think that Francois would be a ‘dark’ person, but on the contrary, he constantly seeks to look on the brighter side of life. And just like light, he is mysterious with a vivid sense of creativity.

Affection for Light

His affection for light of all kinds shows forth in his work, as he learns the ropes using ambient and artificial light. He has no qualms about stating that he is an Amateur Photographer, and his drive expressed through daily photographic quests will only improve his technique.

One of François’ Self Portaits

The World of Artificial Lighting

Strobist Vincent Chambon had a huge influence on Francois. Their friendship was formed coincidentally soon after François decided to get his first D-SLR in 2010 — a Canon 60D. Francois confesses that he wasn’t much a fan of artificial lighting, but with Vincent’s influence, a whole new world of photography opened.

Lady Cloud – Coming Home – Sweet Therapy

Now with his main body being a Canon 5D Mark II, with the 60D as the secondary body, Francois works with subjects of various types including small creatures, animals (especially dogs), unconventional models and even eyes inspired by the work of Armenian Photographer, Suren Manvelyan.

An inspiring model/artist

Mamaw and gaping maw

“She has a lot of taste, and i have to say that her taste leads my artistic direction(s).” This is how Francois speaks of Model and Photographer, Esther Ellena — with high regard. It’s no wonder that some of his best photoshoots are with Esther.

The Photoshoot

Francois’ planning and execution of the photoshoot took about a week. The day before was perfect, but not so on the day, as the trio of Francois, Esther and Damien encountered a very windy atmosphere. The idea, which was originally Esthers’, was to have images of her levitating in Nature in a sense of surrealism. The strong winds prevented Francois from using any light modifiers, and was also making it difficult for Esther who was suspended from a tree by ropes. With assistance from the experienced hands of Damien, the team managed to use the harsh lighting to get some shots. Even though Francois said that lighting was not what they wanted to be, the images have been attracting a number of positive comments. “Live and learn!”, François says. You may prepare everything for a photoshoot, but unexpected things may happen.

Silentio Caeli
Memoria Caeli

Post Processing

François works extensively with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom which he says is “…the most intuitive raw processing software” and finds it the best means to process all his RAW files after which he transfers to Adobe Photoshop. He says the the learning curve is huge, but he is up for the challenge. Other software that he experiments with include Photomatrix.

François’ Gear

D-SLR Camera Bodies:

  • Canon EOS 60D“My first D-SLR bought back in October 2010. I was quite novice then, had only tried 2 D-SLRs before and was attracted to Canon’s ergonomics and lenses. Absolutely in love with this body, the flip-out screen, 18 MP, overall build quality. I have nothing to complain about except that it’s an APS-C ^^”
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II — “After more than a year using the 60D, I was craving for going full frame. Not that i “needed” it, but i was curious and i’m still thinking that new gear allows you to do things differently. Bought it in January, 2012 at a very good price. It definitely changed my way of taking pictures by allowing me to really get large latitude RAWS. Everyone knows the 5D II produces superb pictures, and it’s true. I would just complain about the noise at low ISO in dark areas which forces you to ETTR and bring back clean shadows in post-process.


  • Tamron 10-24mm (APS-C)“I needed wide angle on my 60D, and this was one of the cheapest options available at the time. Well don’t like this one — poor AF, a lot of fringing, poor sharpness… but it does the job ;)”
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Mark II“Cheap construction, excellent glass quality and a bit of fringing but the price can’t be contested.”
  • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L“Definitely in love with this lens as it’s very versatile. I hardly take it off my 5D, and the quality is satisfying beyond expectations.
    Again, I bought it right before the MkII version arrived — very good deal.”
  • Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM (the non-L version) — “The sharpest lens i own. For macro purpose — it’s a killer. For portraits, it’s a very good alternative to the expensive L primes despite it isn’t as fast.”


  • 2 x Canon Speedlite 580 EX II“Power and portability. Allows you to change any location into a studio in minutes.”
  • 2 x MT-16 Speedlite Trigger“Cheap radio triggers made in China, must be unknown outside Europe i guess…) The cheapest radio triggering i found. As I work in full Manual i do not need advanced e-ttl triggering.”

Light Modifiers:

  • 2 x White Translucent Umbrellas (80 cm diameter) — “I don’t use them so very often since i own a softbox.”
  • Cactus (60 x 60) cm Softbox“Cheap, not too so small for a cobra light modifier; produces a nice diffused light very versatile.”
  • DIY beauty dish with a salad bowl painted matte white inside, matte black outside 34cm diameter — “The matte paint allows a great look on skin, a mix of hard and soft light — hard to describe but very pleasant.”
  • Lumodi soft white beauty dish 14″ — “After using my DIY one for over a year, i decided to go with more “professional” modifiers. The light is a bit harder than on my DIY but it has a wider angle so it lights larger part of a scene, which of course the beautiful rendering of a beauty dish.”


  • Photon shoulder rig“Good to stabilize and keeping the ability to manual focus your lens.”
  • Glidecam HD 4000“Ultra smooth movements allowing you to run, walk in stairs or doing travelling manually, saves a lot of bucks in other gear as soon as you get enough muscles to handle it.”


Advice for Beginners

Francois’ advice for someone who’s just starting out in D-SLR photography is to focus on getting quality lenses, and not to be lured by marketing campaigns about ‘super devices’ (i.e. D-SLRs with extensive features). Furthermore he says to “…think about light. Experiment with different sources of light. There are rules about light. Learn them, break them… Never try to break a rule that you’ve never learnt.”

Current Projects and Final Words

Francois continues his daily projects and currently is experimenting with composite images and D-SLR filmmaking.

He says that he wants inspire individuals who face hardships through his photography and other works.

See more of François Vendiol’s work at: 500px | Flickr | Facebook

About Shane Brown-Daniels

I'm a freelance writer and event photographer who is always up for an adventure. From capturing the beauty of a woman, the strength of a man, onto the adrenaline-pumped action scene, you'll find me aiming for the shot.

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