Today i am happy to show you some interesting insights and -most of all- some great pictures by Yves Vernin, a french photographer based in Marseille, member of “The Street Collective“.
I met him during the Brussels Street Photography Festival 2016 and talking about this and that we were surprised that we share a lot of “common” stuff: we do the same job, we live in “port” cities and of course we love street photography. But let’s stop talking and let’s start with the interview!
1. Ciao Yves, let’s start this interview. First of all, let us know when, how and why you started with street photography.
I started photography in 2012. In the beginnings I wanted to shoot musicians while they’re rehearsing. My first series was on violin makers. I think I learned a lot on this series. At first, how to manage highlights. And the importance of the hands in a portrait. We are mediterraneans, Giorgio, and we express ourself by the hands. The hands are very important in my pictures.
2.Having a look at your pictures, looks like you are really confident in shooting colors. Why did you make this choice? Why did you “discard” B&W?
Last time I wanted to shoot in B&W, it was last year in Mumbai, I was with Vinod Babu and Kaushal Parikh, they are masters in B&W. But I think the color is now my usual way. At first, I shot in black and white. Step by step, I began to shoot in color and now the color is my usual way. Why do I shoot in color three years since? Yes, of course: because we see in color and life would be sad in black and white, even with some grey shades. Few decades ago, photographers worked for newspapers which were printed in black and white. So, back then, the truth was in black and white.As joked Pinkhassov, now black and white is only an Instagram filter.
3.Tell me how you approach the streets. Do you go out with a specifical purpose? Do you look for something in particular? Are you “invasive” while shooting?
When I walk in the street, I try to walk randomly. In my city, it’s difficult because I have subconscious paths. But when I’m in a new city, my only wish is to be lost. Probably, I look too much at the light, I’m too dependent on the light. After, I try to be open minded, even if I keep some subjects in my mind. I think and I hope I’m not invasive. I’m shy and if can like some pictures by aggressive photographers, it’s not my way.
4. I know this is a difficult question, but who are your personal “masters” of photography? Where do you take inspiration?
Koudelka, HCB, Raghubir Singh, Raghu Rai, Depardon, Alex Webb, Economopoulos, Gruyaert. But I try to understand photographers I don’t like and perhaps they inspire me sometimes. I grew in photography with some friends. Vineet Vohra and Gabi Ben Avraham, for example, probably influenced me a lot. Perhaps, I influenced them too.
5. Now an easy one. Which camera do you use? And why?
A Leica Q and a Ricoh GR, sometimes a Fuji XT1. So I shoot only with a 28 mm, I would like to try to use a 35mm. My favorite camera is the Leica. (I use the Fuji as the Leica, but my girlfriend took it up, I gave her the virus.) I have my Ricoh with me all the time, but it’s not easy to see the frame on the screen when it’s sunny. I try to shoot differently with the Ricoh, like a punch, to get dynamic pictures. And sometimes, I like to use this simple flash.
6.How is it to be a street photographer in Marseille your city, and in France? Do you receive a lot of complains or not?
As in a lot of places in Europa, people complain against photographers. They buy books and pictures from HCB or others photographers, but they hate to be photographed. But in Marseilles, it’s even worse… Because in the center, half of the population is muslim and they don’t want to be shot. And Marseille is a poor city, with a lot of places for black market or drugs market. Of course they hate cameras, so you have to be careful here.
7.How often and how long do you go out to shoot? Do you think that shooting more helps to get better pictures or not?
For the moment, I have no time to shoot. Because of my work and the contingencies of my life. I hope it will change soon. I would like to shoot 3 afternoons or mornings a week, at least. Of course, it helps.
8.Please, give us your personal definition of street photography. To complicate the whole stuff, does “street photography” exists for you?
I just try to take some pictures in the street. For me the only important thing is to be honest, only take candid shots. I’m not an artist, I don’t create my world, I take only what I can. It is street or not, I don’t know and I don’t care about it. I don’t like staged pictures, and for me, my family pictures are the same kind of pictures. I just try to note down the beauty of life.
9.Let’s try to go deeper: what does photography mean to you? Does it have a sense/mission, or is it just a “personal” thing?
At first, Giorgio, I believe if you think too much at what you are doing, you do nothing. (Remember Cocteau’s sentence: “Asking an artist to talk about his art is like asking a plant to talk about horticulture. “) So I don’t want to think too much. I think I have a small gift for photography, even if it seems pretentious and I’ve met a lot of photographers more gifted than me. But a gift is nothing without work, so I have to work. In this sense, perhaps it becomes a mission. What means a personal thing? Yes, I feel I need to shoot, it’s an urge. Perhaps it’s a kind of therapy, a way to escape to the nihilism, a tranquilizer. When I shoot, I think about nothing except shooting.
10. To finish, give the reader a little advice to improve their own photography.
The usual advice is to buy good shoes, of course it’s true. It means, don’t be lazy, and walk, and work ! Walk to find your own way. Shoot only for yourself, if you want to shoot to get likes on FB, shoot cats and asses.
11.BONUS QUESTION: Do you like bananas?
For the moment, I hate bananas! I just finished moving and I carried hundreds of banana boxes. I’m happy I hate bananas. If not, I should eat bananas, well I don’t like them.
[N.B. this question – and of course this answer – was added by Yves himself.]
CONNECT WITH YVES: Website / Instagram