Parisian photographer Kevin Jordan got his first camera just 6 years ago and is now documenting the new generation of rappers from his homeland. In our conversation with him below we discuss his story, his inspirations and the importance of Instagram in photography careers today.
How old are you and where are you from?
I’m 28 years old. I was born in Paris to a German father and Irish mother and grew up in Aubervilliers (just outside of Paris, North).
How long have you been taking photos?
4 years, I guess.
What made you decide to pick up a camera for the first time and when did you decide to start taking it more seriously?
I got my first camera (Nikon D80) in 2010. It was a gift from my father. At first I only used it when I went on vacations in full automatic mode. I’d never shoot in Paris with it as I just wasn’t into photography that much. I was working as a project manager in an events company at this time until January 2012 when I moved to Montreal with my girlfriend, wanting to see something different.
I was looking for a job there but it wasn’t easy. One day I said to myself, “OK, stop and think”. At that time I was taking more and more pictures so I thought “I’m going to try to do more with my photography”. I started helping on sets as an assistant (mostly portrait) and I was shooting more and more photos of my own. Then, when I came back to Paris in February 2013, I began taking it seriously, creating a network, working for free, meeting people and carrying on shooting with my camera. So it all really started around March 2013 for me.
What or who inspires you?
It’s hard to say. Mostly what’s around me when I wonder in the streets or what I see on internet, books and magazines. Photographers that inspire me are Harry Gruyaert, Jacques-henri Lartigue, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Stephen Shore, Guy Bourdin and Irving Penn.
How would you describe your style and technique?
This is also hard to say. I really enjoy working with natural light. When I can, I use the environment. I’m not a fan of white walls, walls with no stories, no life. I use my street photography “eye” for my portrait sessions. I started out shooting digital, but discovering analogue photography really helped me with my shooting and with the framing. It forced me to wait, not to rush.
Photography is important no matter what you shoot. It’s a moment of life you won’t see again.
We love your photos from the French rap scene. Can you tell us more about this project, how you started it and where it is going?
Thank you, I really appreciate it! It all started around a year ago. A friend of mine introduced me to a well-known French rapper called Deen Burbigo. We took a few shots together and I received a lot of positive comments.
At that time I was looking to start a new photo project, so this was perfect timing. After shooting Deen, I contacted others and since then, I’m shooting rappers whenever I have the time. I only shoot the new generation (20-30 year olds).
When I can, I use the environment. I’m not a fan of white walls, walls with no stories, no life.
My goal with this project is to shoot as many pictures as I can (portraits, live, studio, day to day life). In 2017, I will review all the pictures I have and see if I have enough good ones to tell a story about these two years (2015-2017). Then maybe I will do a book and an exhibition.
What do you like about working with and capturing rappers?
First of all, I’m a huge rap fan! Second of all, it allows me to meet other creative people and hang around with the best French rappers today. It’s just a cool environment, cool people, great vibes.
Do you think photography is an important part of the music scene?
Photography is important no matter what you shoot. It’s a moment of life you won’t see again. Video is great but photography has this power to freeze one second (it’s cliché but it’s so true). It’s important to document life. Everything is moving too fast these days. The rappers and their life are going to change in a year or two. It’s a way to capture their evolution.
We also noticed a lot of architecture, colour and lines in your work. What draws you to these things?
I would have to mention Harry Gruyaert again, he’s such a great photographer. I enjoy his work with the colours, the lines and shadows. When I first started shooting for real, I was into street photography, capturing faces mostly. I still do it from time to time but now I’m more attracted to lines and shadows created by the sun.
I have been contacted because of the work I show on Instagram. It helps but it’s not everything.
What is your favourite piece of equipment to shoot with?
I try to always have my Fuji x100S with me because it’s light and very good. It has a 35mm fixed f/2 lens. But for my professional work I use a Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm and I rent more lenses if needed.
What is your favourite photo you have ever taken?
It changes a lot. At the moment I really like this one of Georgio (below).
How important is Instagram for photographers of today? Has it helped you with your career?
I think it depends on what you do as a photographer. Instagram has a great power of giving you visibility you can’t normally have if you’re not a worldwide known photographer. It allows you to show your work to people you don’t know and people who live far away from you. It’s like your own gallery and it has helped me with my career. I have been contacted because of the work I show on Instagram. It helps but it’s not everything.
Do you have any other passions besides photography?
I listen to a lot of music. I watch a lot of movies (Memories of Murder – I’ve seen it 4 times) I also play football a lot. Nothing very exciting!
It’s important to document life. Everything is moving too fast these days.
What are you plans for the future with photography?
I want to start shooting videos, and I will start soon. But essentially, I want to continue and grow as a photographer. To have my work published. I’m still a young photographer, I’m happy with what I have done in the past year. I still have to learn and practice.
Written by: Amie Galbraith, Fares Masharawi.
Want to see more of the person behind this lens?
Visit their website: kevinjordan.fr