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Art Photobook Reviews

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Mathieu Chaze

Updated: Mar 14

People, always people.

To understand what makes a book special, to recognise that moment when it evolves from merely elegantly constructed layers of ink and paper into art and emotion is a unique, random and completely personal experience.  

We all have different trigger points. 

For some it is purity, aesthetics, technical perfection, the need to be informed or educated on some level.

For others it is the preservation of memory, a narrative journey that appeals to the subconscious and stimulates the imagination.

Ultimately it is ephemeral and indefinable. 

As random as rorschachs in the sky. 

Clouds carried by the wind, blown and blended.

Castles and princesses, distorted and dissolved.

fleetingly there and then gone. 

Destined to be little more than casualties of time and memory.

"Secretly, I had wanted to be a photographer for a long time but I was scared to do what it takes. A few timely events at work and the all important encouragement from your mum changed everything. It was decided. I would become a “professional” photographer. I had no idea how to do it and I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I would figure it out."

Rock, Paper, Scissors is the first book by French Photographer Mathiue Chaze. It is the story of  a father and his sons, of the simple times spent together, already gone and a time that will never come again. 

Of headstrong bucks exploring both their discord and harmony, testing boundaries and finding compromise. 

The vying for parental attention and approval.

Of growing and evolving.

 It is about seizing the moment and realizing that from whichever perspective it is viewed, child to adult, adult to child,  time is precious.

It is about a man chasing his dream.


 "Hugo, you told me one day on one of our walks “Dad, when I am your age, will I remember all of this?” This showed me that even you, my 7 year old, realised the uniqueness and preciousness of this time … this convinced me … The moment was NOW."

It seems that this simple enquiry from a child older than his years, was the catalyst for Chaze to affect a major life change. 

The discussions had already been instigated, Soul searching had commenced and the (understandable) reasons for remaining in the corporate world justified.

However, having  established a successful city based career in finance, this innocent question proved to be  the deciding factor.

Whatever trappings and finery his rat race lifestyle may have been affording, the call of the heart proved to be far stronger.

And once the first domino has fallen...

For anyone with life commitments (financial or otherwise) the idea of leaping into the unknown is (for the majority) a terrifying prospect. Relinquishing control of security for the lives of those dependent upon you, not to mention the houses,

the cars, 

the holidays. 

The benchmarks of modern day success.

However, the realisation - that light bulb moment - that our very existence is a one time only deal and that it is ultimately within our power to live that life anyway we wish, can be a liberating and emboldening conclusion.

Rock, Paper, Scissors is proof that maybe, sometimes we should take that leap.

Out of  the mouths of babes indeed.

And the result is a glorious confirmation that to have the courage of your convictions is sometimes a dice worth rolling. 

As a book we are treated to some of the most beautiful landscape photography that I have seen in some time, but it is the interplay and focus on his sons that truly elevate the work. 

Capturing the English countryside through the seasons, the images flow from pastoral and delicate to dramatic and foreboding but the inclusion of the boys at play imbues each frame with love and affection.

If one studies photography, then being able to compose an image, to understand the light and to manipulate it with the camera are prerequisites. 

Taking a beautiful photograph of  a tree on the edge of a river that has burst its banks makes you a photographer. 

But to breathe life into that image, to take that picture with the face of a child peeping out from behind it, to  register his mood and propose a seriousness and gravitas that suggests and spins any number of narratives beyond a mere game of hide and seek. This makes you an artist.

There is an understanding of light and an elegance reminiscent of artists such as Raymond Meeks and Sally Mann and more recently Monique Bellier and Morganna Magee. 

If anything, this proves that many tropes and themes may constantly circle and inspire for photographers but the soul and personality still soars for the artists.

This is a book for dreamers not technicians, ask Mathieu Chaze he has viewed the world from both sides and the dream emerged triumphant and for him, continues.

Personally - whichever direction his muse takes him - I can only hope that, at least metaphorically,  there is always at least one face peering from behind a tree.

Of the natural sibling rivalry between his boys, he observed.

 "Edward, we tried to tell you that our love was like a river in which you and Hugo are constantly both standing, no matter what. “Yes, but HIS river is bigger than mine” was your very serious reply. I had to smile. You probably won’t understand until much later. Maybe until you'll

have your own children. Then hopefully you will look at these pictures for what they are … a glimpse of your story..."

People, always people.


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