Under the pseudonymous „Facehunter“ Yvan Rodic jets off and takes pictures as a streetstylephotographer of people around the world. Born in Switzerland, Yvan studied Communication and worked for diverse agencies. But he quit his job. Today he earns enough money. For his own blog he thinks that a individual person is more interesting without a story, because a picture is more radical than a word. Fot the column „the observer“, which publicated 2010 the last pictures of Istanbul, readers could find out about the connection between culture and fashion. The glance of men is a reason to spare sexy clothing. For the next year Yvan plans the book „A year in the Life of Facehunter“. In Frankfurt we spoke about styles of different countries, individuals on blogs and his experiences.
How and when did you started to photograph?
I was taking pictures when I was a kid, I mean like everyone I would just play, go to the street and take pictures of stupid things and think it was art. But then I didnt have for long time any digital camera, when I stopped it. Finally christmas 2005 I got my first digital camera. It was a gift for christmas, a small compact one. I just started to play around. I was living in Paris, and going to a lot Openings. So I started to take pictures of strangers, just portraits mostly and than I had all this portraits on my laptop and I thought maybe I can do something out of it and share it. Back than I was living in Paris, and Paris is a Cannes of attractive city, people around the world are curious about the city, so I thought why not sharing, what I see? Someone might be interested, but I had no clue actually. It was not a business idea, or a project, or a treatment with new media. it was really naive and genuine, because back than there was no success for bloggers. There were a few people around the world people blogging, but no one was interested in what they were doing, they weren´t earning money, they were not getting any advantages, they were not getting invited to any shows, and not working with any brands.
So it was almost impossible back in 2006 to imagine to do blogging as a serious job. You just share something and eventually some people going to see it. It was really far from whats happening now at the blogging world.
Thats true. But back than how did you feel the Parisian Style?
Parisian Style is very, very, very simple I would say. I dont think its so inspiring for me. I think people around the world have phantasy about the french style, but I think its more a heritage, that is going to float. Its a little bit like Italy. If you look at older people you will see well dressed people. The younger kind of switch into a mainstream americanized style. Girls wear UGGS, and Abercrombie and Fitch. Its very, very amercanized, in general its very simple and I miss a little bit a sense of seduction and creativity. Its a little bit too simple for me. Its stil Paris.
People all around the world move there to work in fashion or for the city, sure you get a lot of amazingly welldressed foreigners, who live there. But I remember taking pictures there, a lot of swedish girls living there. And actually a girl from sweden would comment on my blog „Oh my god, parisians have such a great style“, but actually its a swedish girl living there for 2 month.
When you look of all the blogs, and you see pictures from paris fashion week, its not paris, its the fashion week world, its a difference. Anna Della Russo is like a fashionclown, its not about style, shes getting the outfits of the show, she is going to. She is going to Dolce Gabbana, Dolce Gabbana gives her like a 10,000 euro dress to go to the show. And they will take pictures of her and say she just has a great style, but she just wears what the brand gives her and thats so far from style. But the thing is a lot of magazines now post they buy pictures from fashion week from me or other to publish and say „french style“ but on the picture are russian, english, american editors. Maybe one french. This even increased the misunderstanding, people around the world see fashionweek pictures, think that its paris version street but if you go on the street, you dont see that.
After three years in paris thats why I had the feeling I wanted to move on in general, I was accused to try another city ano London after several visits set to me more happening, less charming but has more substance and creativity.
You spend most of your life in Switzerland, your born there and studied there. How do the people there define fashion and dressing?
Switzerland is in general not so in fashion. Its a country, where people are very nature-oriented, mountain-oriented. Its a big part of Swiss culture. Every weekend they go to the Chalet, skiing, hiking, climbing. Even during the week they dont get bothered so much with fashion. When I was a kid the coolest thing to wear were snowboard jacket, its like a snowy version of skateboard culture – that was the main influence. Swiss culture is very shy, its about being discrete, not showing too much what you think, so hiding.
So fashion is quite limited, because people dont want to stand out at all, so its considering the mode of money people earn, the education, the fact that people travel around the world, they are quite well-traved, wealthy and well-educated, but somehow they dont go very far in this fashionsegment. They dont care too much. The car is going to be very, very commercial, for the mass very commercial basic things. People with money will go for obvious status brands, but nothing very interesting.
Its similar to the Germans, I read that you said that the Germans are hyperindividual but not fashionforward.
There’s the tention between belonging to the group and people want to have a job, a nice German car, and doing holiday in Spain or in Turkey, I mean, there is a form of comforism as well, but compared to all those cultures, for example the sense of family like in latin culture is very strong. People, individuals sometimes are less free because they have do things to please their families. In Germany the family is not as strong. Because of the country, the second world war, for a long time German identity is very bizarre, because people couldnt be proud, because of its obsure history, but I think its going to be better. Like in other countries they couldnt say „I am proud to be German“, they had to be more individual of themselves. I think its individual, but it doesnt necessarily express this in fashion, but in lifestyle.
I really enjoyed your pictures from islamic countries, you have been to. Kuwait. And Istanbul.
I love Istanbul. I have been there in June. Its fantastic.
You captured the extremes of Istanbul. One girl showing in a burka not any part of her body next girl to…
…to the western girl. Istanbul is by definition a diverse place. You can not capture it without showing this very different option. Its known as a place of intersection of asia and europe, modernity and traditionality. Its almost like a package deal, that you have.
You really travel a lot. So which country has the best style?
I like Scandinavian style. You have big cities such as London, New York, that are the most international, happening place in so many fields. People have to profile themselves and stand out, and look good, in a mixed way. But in London and New York you can almost have everything you want. Its pretty interesting, but they are more like poles, Societyis like more geniune, there are not people, who go there, to look good. But Scandinavia is one of contemporary stylish parts of the world. Sweden is really strong. In Sweden, in the early 21. century it has what Italy would have before, You go to the street, a man well-dressed and you think „wow they have it“. But now in Italy only oldman are dressed like this, the younger wear americanized cheesy sportswear. Its like I said, they kind of lost its heritage. In Sweden you see strong mass has a sense of style, necessary not extravagant, but they know how to make it look cool. Cheap Monday for simple, its not about showing the brand,its something you can make look good in your own style. Its kind of simple but crinkly cool details.
Is there a person you have seen very often and you are impressed by her or his style?
Many people. There are lots of people you have never heard. Slightly visible in the internet is Eleonora Carisi. She is kind of a blogger, she is running a store in Torino. She is an italian girl. She has a cool style, she is elegant and she doesnt has a blogger cheesy commercial style. They all do the same. But she has something unique, and cool, she has personality. She has a mother’s mark, she is a beautiful brunette.
Streetstylephotographers can be compared to gallerists, who are the one, who decide, whats interesting enough to be shown and see. When do you click?
What makes me click is a global factor of attraction. Just feeling that the person is special and has its own thing, doesnt feel like a copy cat, or a clone, or someone, who is imitating someone else. I watch people all the time, everywhere, so I often get the feeling people are the same. When I see some kind of good spirit, its fresh and unique and beautiful and elegant, and seems to suit the person, than I press the button.
Does it happen, that you categorize people?
No, not really. I mean, not categorize but obviously you can tell things, like if you look at someone, not just at style, everything about the person you can guess. Its interesting to guess. But I dont put in my computer categories of people, I think trends are really boring. I am not interested in trends, I think its just a commercial thing. You just put ten pictures of a yellow outfit in one file, and in pink and send them and say trend. Because of blogging cultural internet people have so much access to so many sources of information, and everyone is technically virtually like media. We should appoint when pick up everything that exists and look good on themselves, and its fine. There is no out-of-fashion. The idea of this is trendy or not trendy is so untrendy for me. This era before the internet, where magazines dictated „this is hot, this is not hot“ is over. Someone can wear anything as long as it looks good on him.
You said that an extraordinary style comes from an extraordinary person. But there are people especially in Germany, who set value on their clothes. Prof. Dr. Allert explains the desinterest with the cultural belief of the protestants, who dont want to show something.
But its not true. Sweds for example are protestants and anglicism is a branch of protestanism. I heard the theory before but it doesnt work. You have catholics in other countries, who are very conservative. But I dont think that religion explains some part of this thing. Like I said Denmark and Sweden has a similar culture and religion to Germany, but they express it so differently. For what I said, it doesnt mean that some people can be extraordinary and dont have an extraordinary style. You can be boring and wear a costume or something fashionable. But then that wouldnt be style that would be like Anna della Russo. She has no style for me, she is like a clown. You can have crazy clothes, but it doesnt proof your personality. You can try something but it wont be you.
Some people can be amazingly talented or smart, or unique and wear basic clothes. Every stylish person is a great person, but not every great person is a stylish person.
Does it happen, that you see someone, take a picture, you get to know each other and you’re disappointed?
Not, too much. No.
So you are very confident and think you have a good sense?
Its what I said, usually my intuition is based on the fact that the person seems interesting in general, so its a package.
Theres a point, where streestyleblogs are to critisize. How do you try to avoid showing people, those human beings you see when you scroll down, as an object instead of a subject? How can you show extraordinary people not as some models?
I dont try, I just share it, the way I like it. And people are free to think whatever they want. If you think I dishumanize people, they are free to think so. But in the end I obvsiously select quite unique people. My only promise of facehunter is to say „I am going to bring you, show you guys, people, who are cool and unique and that you dont see every day around your corner“ and than they are a lot of them on the blog.
Do you know Blogs, which show human beings as models instead of individuals?
I mean there is the temptation. Even the original deal is to show real people, its what you expect from streetstyle, at the end the photographer will be in the situation, and has to do after a long term, and try to get traffic, will naturelly try to get people, who look good. We are all driven by a certain form of harmony. Fashionism, what you call it.
If you post people, who are ugly, noone will watch. It sounds horrible, but people dont admit it. They want to see the real, but everyone wants to see something inspiring as well beautiful. Even if they dont admit it, its part of what they enjoy and inspires them. You can not really avoid that. But depending on the blogger, much go farther, sort of modelesque aesthetic and less.
In Winter I saw the pictures from the campaign „make you wish“ between Esprit and Facehunter. On the campaign you could see the wishes of other.
I did half of the camapaign. Half of the campaign is shot in the studio with models. I didnt do this part. I did the real part, I shot none-models in real life around the world, 16 cities.
I saw one picture of the campaign. A girl saying on the plakat „I wish the world was more generously“. In front of the picture I saw an homeless sitting in the cold. It was symbolically very ironic. I like the campaign, but esprit is known that it produces under unfair conditions. And we all wear unfair produced clothes, thats part of the fashion world, …
But what? Whats your wish?
Dont you think the world is very ironically?
Even before human being was human being, nature was never fair and equal and well balanced. Life is mostly brutal and unequal and taff and horrible and violent, and disproportate. ‚From Frankfurt to Sydney they have people that earn more on one day that some in their life. And thats hardcore. And thats trashy. And I took a lot pictures of homeless sitting in front of louis vuitton store. Its taff and I am aware, thats why I try to do my own thing. I dont come from a privileged backround but I just took risk. I could chose the safe way but I took risk to do my own thing.
For sure we live in a complicated world, where is a strong contrast and unequalities. I mean I cant change the world, I just can try to do my thing, the way I like it, maybe inspire people, to do something on their own. Im directly or indirectly promoting a certain idea of living and doing your own thing, thats the only thing I can honestly and realistically do to inspire and help people. I can not support ecconomically every homeless person in the world.
Noone expects that from anyone.
I am aware how this world is build. But like I said you have to live with that and at the end you do what you can do.
You took a picture „capitalism kills love“. Do you believe to that?
Is it the picture from Berlin, sprayed on an advertisement?
I shot it because I found it interesting, and it makes you think. Of course we live in a very marketed, commercially world, where there is not so much more mystery. In the same time in ancient times there was not so much union based love. Union was an arrangement between families and you would be 16 years old and your parents would … to marry a 40year old man and he would be your husband. That was before capitalism and there was actually no love either. People tent to think, before things were more romantic, and people would love.
Actually we are the first period in the last decade, where its kind of common, not in every society, to marry who you want to.
I was in Kuwait and this woman came up.I was having lunch with one girl from Kuwait and one guy. A Kuwait girl came up, because she recognized me, and she knew her sister was a fan so she phoned „hey this is my sister“ and she left. And then a woman came and asked my friend, a kuwait girl, „hey do you know who this girl is? She is kind of pretty!“ Do you know her, I am interested to suggest her to my son. Back 50 or 100 years ago all marriages were arranged. Even before capitalism. People tent to think acutally before love was real and romantic. Nowadays people say its so commercial, theres no more love, but even everything is commercial, peope have a little more power to decide for themselves. A tiny bit more freedom to do their own thing and fall in love.
So its not as simple as that. Its a big cliche and it sounds like intellectual naive. That thing on the wall hasnt to be right or wrong, but it still makes you think.
Thank you very much, Yvan, for the very great conversation.