Aug 31, 2017
Elliott is a young French photographer who creates interesting and moving documentaries, which portray the everyday life of the people and places that are unknown for most of us. We appreciate his simple and honest approach, where natural light and thoughtful expressions are the norm. Alternating street scenes and portraiture, his series gives us a sincere idea of the life and struggles of the people in current Kyrgyzstan, a nation that looks into the future but can’t forget its past.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
EV - Hi There, I’m very pleased to answer your questions. My name is Elliott Verdier, I am 24 and I am a photographer. I live in Paris where I was born and studied. I’ve been in a photography school named ‘École de Condé’ for three years and I travel for my documentaries during the summer holidays.
am - How did you start in photography?
EV - I remember very well that day in 2001 when my nanny took me all over Paris to take pictures. I remember it very well because it is a truly happy memory, the day when I decided to be a photographer instead of a train ticket seller. I still have those pictures with me, my finger appears on half of them. Later, I reconnected with my godfather. He was a photography print collector and I spent hours looking at his prints. He transmitted me his sensitivity over all.
am - What inspires your work?
EV - I like to travel to places where a man like me, born in a middle class family from Paris, would have never been, and meet people I would have never met. I want to portray the world that doesn’t appear in the headlines, addressing deep social issues and taking the time to break into people’s intimacy. This is why through people full of nostalgia, melancholy and sensitivity I try to find original themes that suit my everyday quest for beauty.
am - What is “A Shaded Path” about?
EV - The purpose of this project was to find a subtle balance between melancholy and hope. I considered the light and people as they are in order to highlight a country that lies in the shadow, and more precisely, to show the generational disparities between those nostalgic of an abolished USSR order and the modern ‘westernised’ youth born after the fall of the Soviet Union. It covers the trials of a young and woebegone country, struggling to form simultaneously a national identity and keep apace with the global economy. I like to think that it was the first and last time that these people were shot with a large format camera. It is like keeping a unique track of them.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
EV - I have a very classical photography culture. I grew up with Richard Avedon, Marc Riboud, James Nachtwey… Today I will add Mike Brodie, Todd Hido, Nadav Kander, Rob Hornstra, Richard Mosse, Julien Chatelin… I love the french writter Jean-Michel Guenassia. On the back cover of his last book, it says : «Romantically powerful and truly documentary». I would like to define my work like this.
am - When you are not taking pictures, what do you do?
EV - I play Football. A lot! And it helps so much during my documentaries. The whole world is playing football, it’s like a universal language.
am - Favourite songs / bands at the moment?
EV - I discovered the US rapper ‘Boogie’ recently, I have to say his last album is great. It’s been playing for the whole summer. But I listen to all kind of music. After one hour of rap, I can easily listen one hour of Chopin’s « Nocturnes ».
am - What’s your favourite movie?
EV - I was an absolute fan of Sean Penn’s « Into the Wild » when I was a teenager, like half of the people of my age I think. And all movies of Hayao Miyazaki have always been a source of admiration. Today, I would say that my absolute favourite movie is… No that’s too difficult. I would say I love « Donnie Darko » (Richard Kelly), « Diarios de motocycleta » (Walter Salles), « Persepolis » (Marjane Satrapi), « Detachment » (Tony Kaye), « Billy Elliot » (Stephen Daldry)… And also the series « Black Mirror », which has been a real slap.
am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?
EV - Well, every project is a challenge. Every time I leave Paris for a documentary project, I have this little fear of coming back with nothing good. It’s like starting over again, and again, and again. Leaving everything you know for the unknown.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
EV - I have this very huge book of James Nachtwey, « Inferno ». It is a very harsh book in contrast with its beauty. I open it maybe once a year, and every time it leaves me voiceless.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
All images © Elliott Verdier