Please introduce yourself: What is your name, where are you from, what do you do?
Hi, my Name is Matthieu Vivinis, I am 35 years old. I was born in Paris, France and I am still living here. I am an art director working for an advertising agency (BETC).
What is your relationship with photography? How did you get into it and what keeps you interested or motivated?
My great-grand-father, Louis Poizat, was an engineer in chemistry in Lyon, cradle of photography in France. He invented photographical emulsion for the local industry and was fascinated by photographs. My grand-parents’ country house was full of boxes filled with slides and autochromes taken between 1910 and 1955. I used to spend hours in the attic looking at these images through a stereoscope.
They depicted people, places and a time I didn’t know about. I have always loved rummaging through archives. Unlike many people who loathe these ‹family moments›, I enjoyed the screening of these slides. As I grew older, I used to take a disposable camera wherever I traveled or went on holidays. I would shoot anything, only to get my own archives of pictures I could look at and sort out.
Back in the days, I didn’t have any aesthetic or artistic approach. I inherited my grand-father’s Canon AE1 — that I still use a lot — and it is with thos camera that I learned the basics of photography. There was something magical about developing a film. Even though the beginnings were tough — especially because of a malfunction of the camera shutter curtain — I’ve tried to develop my films on my own with the help of a friend but it was too tedious for me.
Digital technology has been a revolution and has made photography accessible to everyone — an incredible gain of time and money! Like many people, I finally offered myself a 5D which completely changed my way to take pictures. It started to turn compulsive: shooting thousands of pics in a day without worrying about the framing, the settings; all I had to do was to delete the missed shots. Paradoxically, it took me away from photography at that time.
Today, there is no need to spend a fortune. Even with a good smartphone, you are able take high quality photos. I’ve only been using film cameras for the last decade, but my iPhone is never far to check my Instagram account or shoot my son. The works of Robert Frank, Bruce Gilden, Vivian Maier, Joel Meyerowitz Garry Winogrand, William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Harry Gruyaert, Martin Parr, Alec Soth and Joel Sternfeld are very inspirational to me. I admire them so much.
I usually choose ordinary scenes, subjects, with no particular intention. When travelling and walking, I capture anything I come across. Eudora Welky said : «Mr. Eggleston's masterly photographs of places draw their strength and their significance from never losing his own very acute sight of the human factor. The human being — the perpetrator of or the victim or the abandoner of what we see before us — is the reason why these photographs of places have their power to move and disturb us; they always let us know that the human being is the reason they were made.».
The triviality of these subjects is deceptive.
What are you currently working on, and — if there is — what is your next project or journey?
Right now, I try to gather my archives into relevant series, take part in photo contests and find places to exhibit my work. I’d love to publish a book/fanzine about missed pictures which can often occur with a silver halide film for different reasons. And for the first time, I’ve worked on a street portraits series but only with people shot from behind.
Thank you Matthieu!
© Matthieu Vivinis