Chris Garvi is a photographer based in Marseille, France who focuses primarily on street photography.
How did you first get into photography?
I have two memories: The Zenith [camera] of my father and playing a lot with it as a kid, and stumbling upon a photograph of Willy Ronis (La péniche aux enfants). This photograph fascinated me so much. This is when I got seriously into photography. I remember thinking that was this kind of pictures I wanted to take.
How has living in Marseille affected your aesthetic?
Marseille is a complex city. It is not a museum city per say where beauty is obvious. You really have to dig for it...Shooting street photography here in Marseille is an excellent school. Some people say that if you can shoot street photography in Marseille you can shoot street photography pretty much anywhere in the world ! It is true that on the streets here in Marseille people can turn very aggressive ! Shooting the streets of Marseille taught me is to be quick and to compose my frame before bringing my viewfinder to my eye.
Ansel Adams once said, “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” What do you think distinguishes a great photograph from a simply mediocre one?
For me there are two things that make a good photograph: The frame and the emotion that it brings. But, one can hardly go without the other. What a photographer decides to put in the frame, or to leave out, how he decides to organize the space in the photograph, to balance things, and so on and so forth is for me essential. I am very attentive to that. I mean, your frame cannot be left to chances...I’m not talking about what might happen within the frame when you press the shutter, and how people move into it and when the moment you choose to press the shutter. I’m talking about choosing a frame and a composition standing by itself. I like photos to be well and consciously composed. Still, as good as a photograph may be composed doesn’t make it a great photograph if it doesn’t carry emotion, poetry, or whatever might touch you. Something has to touch you, whatever it is.
What inspires your photography?
Love, life, light, music... But inspiration is a very fragile thing. It can strike you but leave as fast as it came. I collect photo books, so I spend a lot of time reading them. Books are a source of inspiration.
What is your favorite photo that you’ve taken?
The one I made in a dream a few months ago. I was in Morocco on the streets. Everything was so perfect! I remember this picture as if I really took it. I remember the action, dancing around the scene with my eye in the Leica. I had the perfect frame, a perfect an echo between the colors of the walls and the colors of people’s cothes, the perfect balance between light and dark, the perfect angle, etc..
Any advice for new photographers?
I’d say to get some culture. I don’t want to sound patronizing but you have to have some references to know where your work came from and where it is going. Reading books is essential. You have to spend some time in front of pictures trying to understand them and get a knowledge on how masters organize space. You don’t have to ruin yourself buying books. A public library is a good starting point…Then I’d say to be very careful when time comes to show your work. You have to be very harsh on yourself...
How would you best describe your aesthetic?
I couldn’t answer this question though I know what attracts me in a picture. You know, as a photographer, the most important phase comes when you choose the pictures you want to show and the ones you want to hide from people. So it keeps evolving all the time I guess.
Where do you hope to see your work in the next 5 years?
In books. I think the ultimate goal as a photographer is to make books. At the moment, I am working on two book projects. One is entitled “Je marcherai le long de l’Huveaune,” and the other is a book on Morocco made with my partner Pauline Alioua. Ii will be our second book after. I must say that this project excites me much more than my solo projects because it is much more challenging and fun to work with someone you love and who is an amazing photographer!