This week on the Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we travel with the French photographer Elliott Verdier to Kyrgyzstan and its breathtaking mountainous landscapes.
Elliott's photographs attempt to reconstitute a concealed story of broken dreams and surprising vitality in a delicate balance.
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A few words about you, how did you start photography?
I was on born in 1992, in Paris. I was attracted very young by photography after spending an afternoon walking with my babysitter taking pictures with his camera. It was in 2001, and I remember well about that day. The pictures are still home, my finger on the lens appears on half of them. Later, it was my godfather, photojournalism print collector, that sat my passion.
You seem particularly attracted in depicting the human nature. How does it resonate in your work and the portraits you create?
As a photographer, I want to freeze time to keep and make a memory of things, generally those at the margins of society, anonymous, and the place they live in.
I like to bring a certain light on them, a track of their earthly passage, sharing this frozen instant for as long as possible. Time is a key element of my work. I wish I could make photographs to highlight the main thing that connects us all, our existential struggle.
It can take many forms, trough an infinity of stories, but I am sure it is our intimate bond. This is why I try to find places on the outskirt of global headlines, that will suit my everyday quest for beauty through struggling people full of nostalgia, melancholy, and sensitivity.
For you, what describes a successful picture and why?
The art of taking a good photograph lies in a subtle and delicate balance. In my opinion, the key is to find the point where storytelling and aesthetics are working in perfect harmony. There can be infinite reasons why an image can be strong but the photographs that have touched me the most are the ones that make you feel the weight of passing time but also tell you that everything will still be fine.
Are you inspired by the work of other photographers or directors, artists?
I guess I could make a huge list of names, but the first show that made a big impression on me was a Richard Avedon show at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2008. His images have a mystical power and a truthful expression that have continued to inspire me ever since.
I love the mystery of Gregory Crewdson or Todd Hido, the voyages and the liberty of Mike Brodie, the dignity and strength of someone like Alec Soth and the elegance and seriousness of Sally Mann.
About your photography gears, what are your favorite tools?
I work with a large format camera Sinar F1 and two lenses, a 150mm and a 240mm Rodenstock.
Working with a large format camera influenced much more the documentary than I thought. At first, I just wanted to reach the quality it offers. I have soon realized and thought that wandering around with a studio view camera of 15kg during winter in Kyrgyzstan was not such a good idea.
And I was wrong. It has definitely offered me much more than technical quality. It offered respect. People were looking at me so differently than my previous documentary. I became a true photographer to them. Very few refused to be taken. And when they accepted, they were posing for posterity.
Do you have projects for the future like workshops, personal series?
I’m very happy to recently begin getting assignments thanks to A shaded Path for publications such as Vogue Italy or The New York Times. But now, I am more focusing on a new project in Liberia. I went there for a month last September, and I plan to go back soon, following some themes I value, something around time, memory, and existential struggle.
To see more from Elliott:
All photographs copyright Elliott Verdier and used with his permission.
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