Jon Wyand has been a photographer for over 40 years. During the years he developed his specialty: capturing vineyards and wine cellars, with Burgundy in particular. His photos are regularly published, and his work has been awarded several times. Because Jon's pictures are very impressive, he will share his story behind the photo with us. Today he writes about the two days he spent with Gilles de Larouziere, the president of Maisons and Domaines Henriot (Champagne Henriot, Bouchard Père & Fils, William Fèvre and Beaux Frères).
Jon Wyand: Well, this was going to be some job, I thought as my cameras and suitcase were put in the boot and I sat in the back of the taxi, accompanied by the usual several bottles of mineral water while I was driven away from the front of Reims station. I have travelled a lot independently, enough to appreciate being met at my destination by a man lolling against a pillar clutching a large sheet of cardboard to his chest. Sometimes it has my name on it, sometimes that of the company I am visiting. Sometimes, after a sleepless long-haul flight, I would find my name more recognisable than the client’s. I once landed at Newark to be transported to my hotel in a stretched limo sustained by a jar of jellybeans, thinking “who on earth were they expecting!” No jellybeans for me this time, as I am driven off to Les Aulnois in Pierry for dinner with Gilles de Larouziere and the start of a two-day assignment to photograph the president of Maisons and Domaines Henriot in Champagne and Burgundy.
I confess to being somewhat taken aback and not a little flattered when I received a call one day last spring from the company’s corporate communication office in Paris. Mr de Larouziere wanted me to photograph him over two days in Reims and Beaune, if I was available? It was not quite the surprise it might have been. I had had a chance to shoot him for World of Fine Wine back in 2018 as the new boss of Maisons et Domaines Henriot. I had met and photographed his uncle and predecessor Joseph Henriot several times including the occasion when I persuaded him to sit back with his feet on the desk. Not, incidentally, an uncharacteristic scenario and he was keen enough to oblige when I suggested it for a photograph. His main concern being whether I could get in the stuffed alligator on the wall behind him. He had a place in my heart after that.
Now, this being a lengthy encounter with Gilles de Larouziere I had been ready for a tussle for control with a CEO but it never happened. On the first occasion he was easygoing, relaxed and trusting, but I can’t say I was ever fully at ease. Such encounters seldom are easy but in the end I felt we had worked well together and I was sure he was being sincere when, on shaking hands, he had said he looked forward to our next meeting. Self-assured, he could be himself very easily in front of the camera but I had had the distinct feeling I was being assessed, given free rein so I could be measured. Five years later he decided to repeat the encounter….
I was looking forward to spending some downtime over two dinners and the drive from Reims to Beaune with him and hoped I could manage to ask sensible questions and make intelligent conversation rather than responding to questions if the “measuring” process continues. Either way, I expected a stimulating couple of days.