Arnaud Montagard

Profile Arnaud Montagard’s America

© Arnaud Montagard

“There is a perceivable sense of temporality in my work—America is simultaneously full of changes and deeply attached to its strong iconicity.”


─── by Josh Bright, July 8, 2024
  • Arnaud Montagard is a French-born, Brooklyn-based photographer whose compelling analog imagery pays tribute to his adopted homeland.

    color film medium format landscape photo by Arnaud Montagard


    Born in the northeastern French town of Nancy, Montagard began his photographic journey during high school, driven by a fascination with the graffiti scene in his hometown. This interest led him to shoot extensively in abandoned, graffiti-covered locations before later turning to more ‘traditional’ street photography.

    color film medium format portrait photo of a man by Arnaud Montagard
    color film medium format street photo of Brooklyn, New York by Arnaud Montagard
    color film medium format photo of street billboard by Arnaud Montagard


    It was his debut monograph, “The Road Not Taken” that first brought Montagard to our attention back in 2020. A nostalgia-imbued ode to America, the depictions of quotidian scenes, made famous by the likes of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, demonstrate the artistry and eye for color that are at the core of Montagard’s practice.

    color film medium format photo of a milkshake in diner by Arnaud Montagard


    It is unsurprising that he credits both Eggleston and Shore as significant influences on his work, along with painter Edward Hopper and the films of Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Though working across three different mediums, all stand as icons in their respective fields, and portray an America that is in some ways both fantasy and reality.

    color film medium format photo of building in USA by Arnaud Montagard
    color film medium format photo by Arnaud Montagard
    color film medium format portrait photo of man in America by Arnaud Montagard


    Montagard first visited the USA in 2007, a formative trip that cemented his long-held fascination with the country he knew from films, photos, and paintings – a place of ‘landscapes, diverse cultures, and iconic symbols of freedom and individuality’ that would become his home when he moved to Brooklyn in 2013 to continue his studies in marketing.

    color film medium format photo of a vintage USA car by Arnaud Montagard


    Upon completing his master’s degree, he decided to focus on photography full-time. Driven by his deep fascination with his new home, he began exploring, traveling thousands of miles across cities, long highways, and backroads, to capture the essence of a land full of contradictions—on of rapid change that remains rooted in its own immortalized image.

    color film medium format photo of children in diner by Arnaud Montagard
    color film medium format street photo by Arnaud Montagard


    Up until then, Montagard had predominantly photographed in digital, but during this period, he began focusing on analog, specifically using a medium-format Mamiya.

    “Nowadays, we are used to having everything immediately, but the long process to discover the final result of a shot on film brings me an anticipation that makes it exciting. Working with a film camera allows me to focus 100% on the subject, leading to more intimate shots. You can’t review the photos on the screen, which forces me to be fully present in the moment and connect deeply with what I’m photographing.”

    color film medium format photo of a motel in USA by Arnaud Montagard


    A favorite of many of his predecessors, it not only lends itself to a more ‘vintage’ aesthetic—the subtle tones reminiscent of those provided by the now-discontinued Kodachrome—but is also one that requires considerable patience and sensitivity, thus engendering a slow and deliberate pace that is befitting of the subject matter.

    color film medium format portrait photo of woman in America by Arnaud Montagard


    Following the success of “The Road Not Taken”, Montagard has continued to focus his lens on his homeland, this time with a more ‘human’ angle. He has long held an interest in community, and since 2020, has been working on a long-term project entitled “There is a Silence”, documenting the cowboy poets who gather across the US to recite their poetry, celebrating a rich tradition of storytelling and shared heritage.

    color film medium format landscape photo by Arnaud Montagard
    color film medium format landscape photo by Arnaud Montagard
    color film medium format portrait photo of man in America by Arnaud Montagard


    “I spent a few months on the road, immersing myself in their world to document their way of life and understand the inspirations behind their poems. This experience allowed me to capture not only the individuals who create this unique form of poetry but also the sense of camaraderie and mutual respect that binds these communities together. The theme of community is important to me because it highlights the connections and shared experiences that define us as humans.”

    color film medium format landscape photo by Arnaud Montagard


    It is a captivating body of work. It stands as testament to Montagard’s skill and artistry, as well as a fitting tribute to an America of the past, yet one that in many ways still endures – if you know where to look – and which continues to loom large in our collective imagination.

    All images © Arnaud Montagard