“To take good photos of Lyon, you need to take your time”

Published: 2016/11/25
“This Is Lyon” met photographer and visual artist, Guillaume J. Plisson, specialist in Lightgraff. He unveils his top tips to take stunning pictures during the Festival of Lights.


Guillaume Plisson, Lyon photographer

Photographer Guillaume J. Plisson

What equipment is a “must” for the Festival of Lights?

I recommend using a tripod to take good pictures during the Festival of Lights, a sturdy Lowepro backpack (one of the best), a good pair of shoes, a warm coat and a pocket torch. Without these, the wintry weather and the long walks to different sites could prove challenging. As for photographic equipment, use what you have.

What 3 sites would you urge people to visit for beautiful images?

It all depends on the programme. But as a general rule, the banks of the Saône river, Fourvière basilica and Place des Terreaux come highly recommended. This year, I think Crystal Cloud at the Confluences Museum is set to be especially photogenic. Because of its location and architecture, there are a multitude of different angles and graphic possibilities. Lumignons du Coeur (Night Lights from the heart) is going to be a must-see event this year. You can find it up at the Roman Amphitheatre at Fourvière. Proceeds from the night lights go to Electricians Without Borders, a not-for-profit organisation which provides access to electricity for financially-struggling populations, thus, lighting a little candle will see it have far-reaching flickers in people’s lives. The Antique Theatre just next door, with its performance entitled Incandescense, is also full of poetry and potentially beautiful images. It’s difficult to pick out the best spots just from looking at the programme, but Arboré’lum, place Louis Pradel, or Crystallized in the Gadagne museums should really be something.

A useful tip to take the right shot?

The tip I’d have would be to take the time to find the right place to shoot from. Then observe the light display without taking any images, find the most interesting moments and scan the crowd’s reaction. And because this year the times have been shortened, be prepared to be on-site right away at 8pm, belly full, warmed-up and ready to rumble!

What is your favourite memory of the Festival of Lights?

My favourite memory during the Festival of Lights was in 2008, when my images were shown live on place Bellecour, with the help of my collaborators from the collective, Lightgraff. It was just amazing to see these huge images projected onto this square, and have the real-time reactions from the public. These are rare moments in the life of a photographer.

Can you tell us a bit more about Lightgraff?

Lightgraff is about putting into precise action the etymology of the word “photography” – to draw or write with light. Through time, the art of writing haven’t stopped evolving. This research can be found in this very process. From stones, feathers, paint, towards light. It’s a work on the fleeting moments in life, where writing is made with lamps, in three dimensions, with no visual pointers, and revealed through photography. This research has become a book, the subject of events such as Nuit Blanche in Paris in 2007, commercial films, exhibitions, press articles…



The eye of Guillaume J.Plisson on the Lyon Light Festival

Plisson’s best shots of the “Fete des Lumières”.



Place Antonin Poncet. © Guillaume J. Plisson.



Place Antonin Poncet. © Guillaume J. Plisson



Fourvière basilica. © Guillaume J. Plisson


lyon, place bellecour, G.Plisson

Place Bellecour. © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lyon Festival of Lights in "Parc de la Tete d'Or"

Parc Tete d’Or, 2010. © Guillaume J. Plisson



Lyon from Fourvière hill, 2010. © Guillaume J. Plisson


lyon : "Fete des Lumieres"

© Guillaume J. Plisson


lyon, histriker

© Guillaume J. Plisson


lyon, hotel de region

Hotel de Region © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lightgraff in Lyon, Guillaume Plisson

Lightgraff. © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lyon, rue royale by night

Rue Royale, Croix-Rousse. © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lyon, Place des Terreaux by night

Place des Terreaux, Lyon. © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lyon, Hôtel de ville

Place des Terreaux, Lyon. © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lyon, Parc de la tete d'or

Parc Tete d’Or. © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lyon, Venus on the Palais des Beaux Arts

Place des Terreaux. © Guillaume J. Plisson


Lyon perrache

Perrache station, Lyon. © Guillaume J. Plisson


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