Or just call him J.C., his self-proclaimed-difficult-to-pronounce last name tends to immediately cue you in that this guy's got an accent. A beautifully, soothing voice - guaranteed to lull you into a sense of peace and relaxation, more often than not.
This week's blog post is all about JC, but brace yourself, Jonathan is quite loquacious, in person and in print!
1. What urged you to start photography?
I have always wanted to work in the Art realm. When I was a kid my parents told me I enjoyed stealing their camera and taking photos with everything. I was also very passionate in drawing, painting. When I was in high school I studied 4 languages (French, English, German, Russian). When not at school I started taking portraits and events / concert photography. Without noticing I invested more and more time and effort into getting better, by fixing my mistakes, testing, testing, developing patience in observation, and perseverance.
Once my brother borrowed my small camera (a very cheap silver film Pentax camera) for a concert and when he came back he told me someone stole it from him so he lost it. I was devastated and tried to hold my tears. I tried not to show my pain and suffering. My father and mother looking at me instantly told me: "son we will get the same camera at the store for you this week do not worry". These words transformed that moment into one of the best days of my life. I had hope again and when I got the new camera, whatever quality it was at the time I felt I was the happiest boy on Earth.
I learned silver film photography thoroughly and even skipped school to go to the forest or other places to shoot photos. I wanted to be a musician but there were enough musicians in the family. I was more talented in photography and it seemed to be easier to make a living out of it. After graduating from High School, thanks to my parents inspiration and support, I went to the EFET school of Paris and was the youngest student at 18! I became an assistant to Jean Marie Aragon at another studio in Paris while still in school, and then started my own photography business. Unfortunately, Jean Marie died at age 53, but I worked with him for almost 8 years, shooting with a large variety of clients. I respected one of his last wishes: I participated in teaching photography to his son Nam after his passing.
2. Besides your wife, step-children and cats, who are your favorite people and why?
My wife Sophia is my angel. She supported me and continues to support me throughout all of our life adventures. In May 2015 I moved from France to Minneapolis and we got married on July 3rd, 2015, so we have fireworks only for us (at least we believe it). We have 2 kids Blake (13) and Samara (11). They are my step children and I love them.
Besides the wife and step children my favorite people are my parents Alain and Monique Charpentier. They are the ones who gave me life and I am full of gratitude for their unconditional love. My older brother Frédéric and younger sister Johanna are both important to me too, as we supported each other during our upbringing. My brother is in France. He is an exceptional guitarist, virtuoso, and music teacher. My sister lives in Lancaster near Los Angeles, California. She works for a scientific company near Los Angeles and is currently assisting as a financial advisor for a church there.
Another important person in my life is my yoga teacher Sunyogi Umasankar. He gave me the opportunity to be the 2015 President for the French branch of his Indian NPO (Non Profit Organization) which was a great honor and a fantastic experience as he is recognized as a swami (Saint) in many countries. With him I learned traditional Himalayan SunYoga and Acupressure, tools I use every day and that bring me balance in life. (Yoga, sanskrit: source of life).
3. How many cats do you have?
We have 2 rescue kitty girls Luna and Sukoshi, born in May and August 2015. My wife was looking for kitties on Craigslist and we saw Luna's pictures and instantly fell in love with the calico/tabby beauty. We drove to Mille Lacs, MN, and got her from a family who had too many already. Sukoshi comes from Japanese 少し which means "a little bit". The veterinarian at the Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley, MN, named her and we liked it so much, we gladly kept it.
4. Not dogs?
When we were at the Animal Humane Society we wanted to adopt a doggie, but 5 minutes before we arrived the boxer we wanted got adopted by another family, who looked very happy with the puppy. Destiny. The next day we went to Golden Valley's AHS and were looking around for either dogs or cats. My wife's eyes met Sukoshi’s and it was too late!!! Hard to resist if you look at kitties, you know it is dangerous to go the Animal Humane Society because it is very easy to fall in love with puppies and kitties. I used to have dogs in the past in France, but I had more cats than dogs. I did dog sitting for a few friends who have dogs in the Paris region.
I love ALL animals, so my love for dogs and cats is only a small part of my love for nature and life. I love people and I love LOVE!
5. Your ideal wedding to shoot at?
My ideal wedding is with people I connect with naturally. My ideal friends are authentic and true. You do not need to have an expensive or big event to impress me. What impresses me is the real you, how you feel in your heart and soul. The rest follows. I believe the beauty of a wedding relies in its authenticity and natural flow. Of course it needs to be well organized, so it reduces stress and we can focus on the most pleasant and fun things. I believe everyone is my friend. So, if you love the same then I think we will be friends pretty easily. I am easy going and very patient with people. I love to understand them and get to know their family, how they live, how they think, what they do, what they like. I like to learn from older people and the elders. I love to listen to their stories and wisdom. I love to play with kids. I love people of all ages and cultures. I am a multicultural photographer. I have been working as a photographer for +13 years worldwide in France where I shot weddings of all religions and beliefs, Belgium, Egypt, the Netherlands, Switzerland where I shot the first gay wedding of Vevey/Montreux. I event shot weddings in India, and Thailand. I like to observe and get to know people. I love to learn. Maybe it is why I chose to be a photographer. I am a researcher of society and life.
6. If you weren't a photographer, what would you do?
I would work with animals in an animal shelter. I would love to be an architect too. My name Charpentier means 'carpenter' and my great grandfather was a carpenter. I would love to be a Yoga instructor, finish my studies, and pass my degree in Acupressure therapy. I also thought about going back to music, opera singing, or having a rock band.
7. Favorite place in the world?
My favorite place in the world, other than in the arms of my wife Sophia, is India, most particularly West Bengal. Ask me and I will show you pictures - you will understand. Here is one of DAKSHINESWAR TEMPLE.
I have a very peaceful life here and I am very excited to discover so many new things, because everything is new to me here.
8. Why would you ever leave France!?
Easy answer. It is my wife Sophia. We met for the first time in Paris in 2009. It was huge love at first sight. She is a musician, working as an IT consultant. We are young and innocent. We fall in love. I came to Minneapolis for the first time in January 2010 and I knew instantly she was the one. But the transition required time and planning. I proposed to her in 2013. My parents and grandmother and whole family loved her too. She is pretty lovable you will see for yourself. Sometimes life is challenging here as an expat, but she is an infinite source of joy and happiness. Learn more about my move to the Twin Cities and check out the photo of my Green Card which I received 1 day before my birthday Dec 4 2015! See, when I tell you I am very lucky.
9. Biggest pet peeve about us Americans?
It is so funny! Everyone asks me this question. I appreciate the question but do not think I am an expert about your country! I am barely scratching the surface of understanding what it means to live here. I see the challenges and difficulties not like a French person, and not like an expat, but with my heart, as a human being. So, I cannot judge. I think you guys ask me this question too much maybe this is my pet peeve about Americans! Minnesota nice is a real thing and people have a great heart here. I refuse to criticize and put everyone in the same basket. Being American is a very immense subject, larger than me and my limited experience of living here. Originally, this country was built by immigrants, so this country is too vast and does not include only 1 culture. That is part of its wealth.
10. Where you see yourself in 20 years
The future does not exist yet, so I focus on the present which is the real priority. When we plan something we have to be aware that the foundations of our plan are strong enough. I simply plan on being a good person and doing good work for myself, my family, my friends, my clients, and give back as much as I can to society. I donate between 25-50% of my profits to social or humanitarian programs. I have a plan and a map in my head.
If you want to know everything about me let’s have coffee and we will talk! I hope to meet each of you reader's in person.
I am sincerely so grateful to JC for taking the time to answer my questions. He really is a book with many pages... and small writing... the book is super heavy with an ornate binding... but it comes with pictures so you don't notice. Check out his incredible Instagram (something for everyone) and see you next week!
Prosperity, Love & Happiness,
*Of course all photos on this page taken by JC Photography, except the picture of Jonathan himself. Those were taken by me. Just kidding they were taken by, uhm, not Jonathan.