Back in the 1980’s, Jean Blais was certainly one of our foremost “Urban” photographers. Often provocative, his sensual images have influenced Blais’s contemporaries, all the while giving a new twist to editorial content in Quebec Fashion magazines.
Altough passionate about woman’s beauty, his career started out shooting industrial photography for government agencies. His editorial debut was shooting music stars for Quebec Rock in the early 80’s, then he got his first editorials in Interior Design magazines such as Decormag and Décoration Chez-Soi. Jean Blais opened his first studio in 1985, on Guy street downtown Montreal. His obvious talent quickly impressed magazine editors and was now shooting editorial work for most Canadian Fashion magazines. Blais was to be seen at all the fashion and showbiz industry events. He directs music videos, becomes judge for many model contests and organizes Montreal's first "warehouse party" events (today called "raves"). In 1987, together with journalist André Ducharme and graphic designer Daniel Charron, he launches a large format magazine called Manoeuvres showcasing their work. Journalists, illustrators and graphic designers all volunteered to work on the making of this trade magazine . Within three years, 13 issues of Manoeuvres magazines where published and actually got Jean Blais to win many advertising contracts. Photos taken for Smirnoff vodka (1989) illustrate his daring style and very explicit sensuality which characterized his work at the time.
Jean Blais quickly gets around the world of advertising and decides to try his luck in New York, where he lived for three years, from 1995 to 1998. These years were marked by an intense personal research which then lead him to London, where he mastered digital photography before returning to Montreal in 1999. Digital photography expert, he now works mostly in advertising.
-Gérald Baril, author of Le Dicomode, Quebec Fashion Dictionary published at Éditions Fides