Get Familiar: Remi Bouvier
Amsterdam based photographer Remi Bouvier is on his way to becoming a household name. We caught up with the young artist around the release of his debut book ROOTS to get familiar with his vision.
How have you been?
Doing good, busy with the distribution of my book and upcoming projects!
How long have you been shooting for?
I’ve been around cameras since I was young, about 6/7 years old. It started with Filming my pet hamster and Lego setups. But It was when I was about 14 that I started to take it seriously. I bought my first analogue camera at a flea market in France with no experience on how to handle film etc. A friend of mine Wouter showed me the ropes and gave me my first film roll, that was the moment I really got into it.
Nice set-up! Do you always work with the same gear?
I shoot on all kinds of cameras. My favourite all-around camera at the moment is my Yashica T4, all the photos in ROOTS were shot on that camera. Otherwise, I shoot on an iPhone 5se or a Nikon d750 for commercial stuff. The iPhone 5 is a lot of fun especially for street photography, because of it being so small you can really get up close to people without them noticing. It also levels the playing field, everybody has a smartphone so for me to take interesting pictures with it makes it more challenging and fun.
What is the thought process behind your work?
For now, it’s documenting rare subjects and cultures around the world. Through my work, for example, ROOTS or through Throwawaycam. With that project, I send disposable cameras to people I find interesting and then post them on Throwawaycams Instagram/website. It’s really interesting to see the participants day to day life and how they handle a simple format like a disposable camera. At this moment the project is on a bit of a hold but I have some ideas for the future.
Who inspires you in the world of art and photography?
Tough question I can name a lot. Bruce Gilden is probably my favourite street photographer, the way he uses his flash and the way he photographs his subjects are crazy. Go on YouTube and type in his name the first video that will pop up will show you. Terry Richardson showed me that anything is possible while taking pictures, I wonder how he is in real life because for him to make the books he made you must be one charismatic motherfucker. And yea I know about the allegations against him but talking about his work alone, is just insane. And last but not least, Jacob Holdt. I could ramble on for hours about him, check out his personal website or look him up you will find out.
Who inspires you outside the world of photography?
None for me to point out specifically, my inspiration comes out of books, documentaries and research on the web. Mostly photographers, filmers and interviewers.
What is the throwaway camera project?
Throwawaycam is a project that I started in 2018. I read an article somewhere in which a person sent disposable cameras to families around the world, to see how they live etc. After a few months, I suddenly realized it would be a cool idea to do the same thing but to send it to people that I find interesting.
That is how it started, and it proved to me that anything is possible if you have a good idea and a lot of motivation. Because when I started this project I had no Portfolio or no references, not to be harsh to myself but I was a nobody and to be asking professional photographers and people with projects going on to participate in a photography project for free was quite a bold idea. The first person to participate, which I shall not name screwed me over and posted the photos himself without telling me but luckily enough Ben Colen my favourite skate Photographer said yes too and he was the first one to be post. After him, I guess I had a stamp of legitness because the other participant finally sent his photos and for a while, it was smooth sailing with a lot of people accepting to participate.
So when I send a camera to somebody they can have it for a few months or less, they send it back to me and I post the contents on the Throwawaycam Instagram and website. With that, you can see The participant's daily life and more. Sadly the last 6 participants, lost their cameras, said no in the end or stopped reacting to my messages after a few months which sucks. So now after 2 years, there haven’t been any new participants which is quite sad but with this project, there is no deadline or pressure. It’s pure passion, I’m not chasing to get as many participants as possible because I need to feel a connection with every participant otherwise it wouldn’t be organic, it would just get bland. So just so yall know I haven’t given up, hopefully, there will be a new participant soon!
Hear you have been making music with some familiar faces - how is that going?
Wauw word around town goes quick. I’m actually really getting into making music. About 3 years ago I started playing electric guitar and it started from there I now have an acoustic too, a Roland D-10 synth and just recently bought a Hammond organ. It’s just so much fun because with photography and film there is now this pressure because of it becoming work at the same time, music for me is just letting go and relaxing. Just like going out to skate, when you do it you think about nothing just the matter at hand. I record everything on my iPhone 5SE with garage band, I just use the internal microphone. A simple but for now effective setup. And for the question at hand yes I have been jamming with people here and there but mostly with Jesper (jespfur) and Mats. With Jesper on the drums, Mats on the vocals and me on the guitar. It’s a bit of everything, Rhythm and Blues, R&R and Punk. For now, it’s still a side project so I’m going to refrain from telling too much but I hope we could do something live in the future.
And this your first book?
Yes! ROOTS is my first book.
What is the book about?
The book is about my journey back to Ghana around February 2020. Having lived there for about 6 years made me have a lot of fond memories. The last time I was in Ghana was in 2010 and since then a lot of subcultures have arisen from Bikelife to boxing and more. They all have been there but it has grown exponentially since then. With that, I take you on a visual trip revisiting those memories, subcultures and more.
What sort of response have you seen so far?
A lot of positive reactions it’s crazy! I’m really happy how it turned out, I still need to go to Ghana and distribute the book over there. With that, I’m planning to revisit everybody who’s in the book and share it with them, if they are positive I can die happily.
The book is of great quality, will you ever do a reprint?
Thank you, Maybe in the future. I was thinking of doing a limited run with stories about what’s going on in every picture, so people will get more context and info about what the pictures mean to me. Only time will tell.