After receiving a camera as a present in 2005, Yvan instinctively started to photograph eye-catching people around him in the city he lived in — Paris. He soon began posting these on his blog, and this was to be the beginning of something big.
Taking photos of people in the streets has turned into a full-time passion, and Yvan gets invited to events all over the world where he travels to and photographs interesting people. He lives in London, but has actually never been there for more than 2 weeks in a row.
Yvan’s blog has almost 20,000 daily visitors, and he usually posts about 10 new photos each day. Yvan is also working on “The Facehunter book”, which will be available in February 2010. It’s going to be a selection of his many photos, combined so the photographed people connect visually with each other.
Last but not least he’s also doing his TV-show “The Facehunter Show”, where he interviews people from all around the world.
What is the best time of day?
Between 11pm and midnight, because it has something a bit more relaxed. I like the night and there’s more fun things going on – less issues and complications. Everything is just more about having a good time, relaxing and being social.
Why did you start taking photos of people in the streets?
It was just something that happened instinctively — sort of. One day I got a camera as a gift, and I’ve always been very curious so I just started to photograph random people.
In the beginning they were not very “special” — just people. I thought that the people I was seeing in Paris would interest people in other countries, and I just started sharing them on the blog — just with no clue really.
So that was kind of the starting point, but then it became a bit more mature and more consciously, and from that day it was more about showing and sharing the creativity. I often think that all the people and the creativity I have access to every day, is something other people don’t have access to, and I think its something that needs to be shared.
Everybody is always talking about that we’re becoming more and more the same with the globalization, and I want to show that its not true anymore — I mean, more and more people are celebrating individuality and uniqueness and that’s something I think deserves to be shared.
In the beginning it was just the “face thing”, and then I realized it would be more interesting if I showed more than just the faces.
What is the most important job your work shall fulfil?
Enjoying myself, challenging myself, and just exploring. I’m — like I said — definitely very curious, and I need to fulfil this need for discovering something new. So I get this stimulation from my work and from meeting new people.
What’s more important to you, the people you photograph or what they are wearing?
Obviously the people. The people are the centre and everything around them is an extension. The people are expressing themselves through their style, so the style says something about who they are and that’s interesting.
It’s not just about being a fashionista it’s about being a great person, and usually many of the people I stop and talk to, have something interesting to share, they’re not just cool visually, but they’re people with imagination and ideas and are often doing some interesting stuff. Most of them are working in some creative field — but it’s not the rule.
The people who only care about how they look are usually very superficial and plain and they are not interesting. I mean, maybe some people who always follow the trend in fashion are a bit dumb and insecure, so they feel like they need some status, but I don’t photograph people who are looking for status or like showing trends. There is more to it when people have enough self-confidence to be themselves. So the people are definitely the core.
I know that it has a connection to the fashion world, but in the end the people creates more impact than the clothes. The charisma of the person will create much more than the clothes will.
Describe your style as a good friend would describe it.
I think I have a classic style with a twist, maybe.
What is definitely not your style?
Sportswear — I don’t wear T-shirts, I don’t wear sneakers. I don’t wear anything sporty — it’s not me.
How do you see yourself/The Facehunter compared to The Sartorialist?
I think we are in pretty different worlds. I think he is an industry person and I’m not. I mean, he had been working in the industry for 15 years before he started his blog and I haven’t.
90% of the pictures he puts on his blog are from a fashion week, and even if we go to the same fashion week he will photograph the highest-position people who wear the most expensive clothes and that’s his definition of style. I will take pictures of them all — the fashion students, the young stylists, people who are a bit more adventurous, individual and probably don’t have the £5,000 it–bag, but somehow I think they are a bit more progressive.
I think he photographs more like classic style that’s in fashion and for me — I try to photograph people who are creating trends, and therefore are before the trend.
My work is much more about going to many places even if it’s not fashion week and he’s more on track of the industry, and goes to a fashion week and stays on the way somehow, and I like to go to many different places. I want to surprise people. I think I feel like I’m more a cultural explorer than a photographer.
Purple Magazine is good.
What does it take to be facehuntable?
You can try to be rational and make it a formula, but I don’t know why. Someone who would like to be photographed by me could spend 10 hours on the blog and try to figure out “Oh he likes this, and if I have this kind of hair, and these kind of shoes he might take my picture” — or maybe not. There are no rules because I’m always surprising myself.
Maybe I would say “Oh I hate Ugg boots”, but then maybe tomorrow or today I will find this girl who manages to make them look good. And maybe I would say “Oh I like girls who wear ankle boots”, but maybe I would see a girl with that and think that she looks like all the other girls. So the only thing is that people have to be themselves and have a style between elegant and experimental — I don’t like people who are hardcore experimental, I mean that don’t look good to me. I don’t want the clothes to replace the people so of course it has to be nice to look at as well as a bit creative, but not just creative or just boringly nice.
What kind of music do you listen to at the moment?
I don’t listen to a lot of music actually, but I like a few bands from London, like “Ipso Facto”. It depends, but I like lots of Folk — New Folk musicians, something a bit more instrumental. I had a long electronic period and now I’m not that into that anymore.
Do you have a muse?
Who’s your hero?
I don’t have any heroes. I have some people I admire but I will not say that they are my heroes. I don’t feel like I’m so much on my knees for someone.
How do you see the position of streetblogs/fashionblogs compared to magazines?
I think the blogs have been changing the media landscape in general quite strongly over the last couple of years. It’s a big change because modern — and especially the youngest people —now are reading more blogs and buying fewer magazines. More people can relate to blogs because they feel “Oh there’s someone behind it, or the girl writing this blog is like me so I can be her, and I like her opinion better than a big magazine”. So it’s pretty tough to be a magazine right now and I think that they try to copy blogs, like having their own blog. So they are sort of absorbing some of the blogging-culture. But I think in the long-term vision there will still be magazines, but there will be less and less print magazines. I would say that it would be only high quality magazines; the ones that deserves to be printed. I mean the ones you buy because you want to keep it as a beautiful object, not something you’ll only keep for one week. So it will be either the quick information or a magazine like Self Service, which is more like a book and an investment. So I think that we are heading more towards that the quick information is digital and that the more slowly, beautiful, art directed information is printed.
Which challenges have you met in your work?
Everyday is a challenge because I haven’t learnt what I’m doing, I mean, there is no proper education to take to be The Facehunter, or to blog because it’s kind of a new area. So in the first place my challenge was just technically to use the camera, I mean, I don’t have any education in photography, so I’m not really a photographer, but because I’m doing it on a daily basis it improves it.
It’s also a challenge just to make it happen as well. To create the Facehunter–model that didn’t exist before, so organizational it’s also quite challenging, and especially in my case because I’m travelling all the time and don’t have a base, it’s somehow tough just to make it happen non-stop. And now also the challenge is to make the Facehunter TV show.
And it can be difficult to separate when you work and when you don’t work, because I’m working all the time, and people have said to me; “Oh but you’re not really working!”, but I’m always kind of active in a way. But I’m not complaining about it because I chose this life. It’s just something you have to be ready for, and I don’t think everybody is. Some people need a more comfortable routine, and they will maybe sometimes criticise it and say that it’s boring. But somehow they will enjoy this comfort. So in that way complaining is more like a social routine, you complain about your job and the weather, but it’s not so bad because you don’t try to change it.
Describe the development in your photos, from your first ones to the ones today
The first picture that was on my blog was a picture I took without knowing that I would have a blog. I took this picture for myself, so in the first place I was not very selective and it was more like a snapshot.
Now it’s a much slower process, and I try to make everything look good so I sometimes walk for 5 hours to get one picture. So now I’m more selective and I try to build my pictures in a composition. I think about the picture I want, so I’m thinking much more about the styling and setup. So it’s more like an art-directed snapshot or mini-shoot. Also, the camera I’m using is a bit better, but not so much — I mean, it’s still a quite small camera.
What are your thoughts about the increase in the number of street–style blogs?
When it started a few years ago, there were not many streetblogs, but since then it has just been growing and people are contacting me saying: “Oh, I live in this little town, and I just started my own blog”. And now it’s still growing, and I definitely think it’s something that fulfils some kind of need. I think that more and more people around the world want to be inspired by real people, and they can relate more to people on the blogs than to models in magazines. But I also think that when there’s too many streetblogs, someone has to disappear because people don’t have time to check them all, so they will focus on the best ones.
So I don’t want to take pictures of the people just like I meet them — with bad light or a boring background — but I try as much as I can to create this sort of drama. I want every picture to be happening. I want people to look twice and say: “Oh my god what’s going on? — Who is this girl, she is so amazing and in front of this!” I want people to wonder whether it’s real or a setup, because street–style is supposed to be real and spontaneous, but I try to organize it so it sometimes looks like it’s on the edge of being real.
Which project has given you the most satisfaction?
Doing my TV–show. It’s the most exciting thing in the world. It’s like a concentration of the perfect life somehow. It’s kind of like a surreal life for five days when I film at different places. It’s like another dimension really, or like a different reality where there are almost no problems — I’m kidding, but it’s like an exaggeration of your life, or what you want your life to be, and it’s quite intense. It’s like a different state of mind for a few days.
What’s the next step for you?
With my book and the TV-show I don’t really have any other plans right now. I mean, for me the show is still new, so I want to get to a place where we are filming a new video every week. Now we’re still experimenting so I have to improve that. I see myself doing more films in the future. I feel like telling stories with a camera.
What are you afraid of regarding the future?