Félix Elvis, the picture storyteller
Globetrotter, cinema pro, photographer and innovative projects coordinator, Félix Elvis is a total artistic fusion. After having followed audio-visual studies, the young Parisian has taken a fancy to capturing the beauty of landscapes he comes across during his travels. A collaborator for OLOW’s 2015 Autumn-Winter collection, “Baie des fumes”, we took the time to sit down with him to learn more about his art…
Hi Félix, by trying to learn a little more about you, we quickly noticed your polyvalence in artistic domains. To begin, could you define yourself? What status do you give yourself?
I don’t really know if I can give myself a status. I’ve been telling stories for a really long time now, whether they be written, or with video games when I was in high school, or later with cinema during my studies. I now do comics, but the common thread has always been to tell stories. I think it’s the same thing when I take photos. I’m a bit of a storyteller.
Your professional roots are in moving imagery. What do you like about still images?
It’s different. With cinema, you need to invent and build everything in advance; you have to write and think about many things. Photography for me is more about going out for walks, seeing what surrounds me and living in the moment. The approach is completely different. But I also think that I started photography because it helped me with my cinema, figuring out how to film people.
We took a look at your Tumblr and noticed you only ever post landscape photos of wide expanses. Why prefer landscapes to portraits?
I think I’m more at ease with landscapes. I take loads of photos when I travel so there are very few urban shots. When I take a photo, it means something’s happening. It could be between the light and the landscape or anything that means something’s happening. At that very moment, I tell myself “I have to take a photo, this thing’s so cool, I have to share it”. As a result, it’s often empty landscapes.
Are you always that spontaneous taking your pictures? Do you ever prepare anything in advance?
I try not to. When I tell myself I have to go back to take a picture, I generally don’t, otherwise I’m disappointed because things have changed, the lighting isn’t the same.
One of your photos is on the ICELAND BALL t-shirt from the 2015 OLOW Autumn-Winter collection. How was that for you?
I found it really cool to do a collection on Iceland because I’d never seen that before. The country really left its mark on me; I’d love to go back one day. I was incredibly touched that my photos had sparked some interest.
What does that basketball hoop in the middle of nature mean to you?
I found it incongruous and kind of funny because there are things on the other side of the photo. Here, it really seems like it’s lost up in the mountains. What’s funny is I stayed there for three days and I never once saw anyone play basketball. It’s right in the middle of Iceland, behind cliffs where no one lives. It’s that contrast that I liked.
What was your escape to Iceland like?
It was a bit of an adventure. I always travel with my girlfriend and that was our very first big trip. We quickly realised that you always have to have loads of food on you because you can rarely find any being sold over there. We ended up at the wrong cottage, a completely abandoned place in between the mountains, because it was nighttime and there was a storm going on. The landscapes over there truly give the impression of being on another planet, they change every 5 minutes. It was very striking.
A particular spot where you can admire the “land of fire and ice” landscapes?
I keep thinking of that abandoned cottage because there’s a whole story behind it. But, in the end, I’d say in every photo. I don’t have many because I work with film so each photo is precious and reflects the moments that are dear to me. That’s also why I love to work with film: I don’t end up with thousands of photos to sort out. Here, each photo means something.
Film photography matches with your idea of capturing the moment, then. Had you already tried working with digital before?
I actually bought a digital camera a while ago because I canted to try one out. Film was frustrating because there were loads of failed photos. I unfortunately realised that with digital, I kept taking loads of photos at the same time, or I’d take neutral photos in order to retouch them later. So I prefer using film even though I take fewer photos. I barely retouch my film photos. I’ll sometimes modify the contrast a bit but what I love is choosing the films beforehand. I choose the filters in order to know what shade my photos will have. Those are generally the only things I do. That’s what I love about film photography: I don’t feel the need to retouch.
What’s the next country you’ll be exploring through your lens then?
Good question! Maybe China, Louisiana or the United States in general. I’m interested by the South of France a lot. My last trip was to Quebec. It really was very cool.
Aside from beautiful shots, what do all these trips bring you?
Reflection. When I’m travelling I don’t use my phone, my computer or my GPS. It’s kind of amusing to use maps, being cut off from the world for a few days or weeks. It makes you think about a lot of things; I generally take quite a lot of decisions when I travel. It really motivates me when thinking of what’s next. My travels influence all of my projects; I’m able to meet lots of people and see new things.
What are your projects for 2016?
I’m in the process of setting up my own company, doing digital comics for mobile telephones. It’s called Atelier Capsule, I’ve been working on it for a year and I’ll still be busy with it next year. And travelling of course!
Many thanks to Félix for his answers.
ICELAND BALL tee-shirt is currently available on our e-shop!