We got the chanse to talk too the great photographer Vivian Brussels about his recent projects and how he got started in photographing the graffiti culture. In this interview Vivian Brussels choose to show 10 portraits of some of the worlds most famous graffiti writers representing London, New York, Helsinki and Amsterdam.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I started photography at 16, shooting the skate and snow scene. I then started to hang and shoot around the Brussels graffiti artists and hip-hop scene. Today I am mostly doing portraits, documenting street life, subcultures & strong characters.
Where do you live?
How did you get into photography?
My grand father was into it, so I received a camera around 12 and later I start to make pictures when skateboarding and then got some publications.
How come you started photographing graffiti writers and the culture?
I was into writing by myself and I start to shoot the burners on the train track and then I met a local king and start to shoot with him (see my book brussels gold school).
Have you been involved in any other sub-culture and photographed it?
Yes, I started shooting skateboarding, create my own fanzine in 1991 (Def Skate) and started to get published in Anyway, a french skate mag, and I also shoot snowboarding. Check som out here: Vivian.brussels/archives
Tell us a story of when you followed a graffiti writer out on a mission?
Not specially, I didn’t follow a lot of missions, just a few. I used to do the mission for many years, I can tell you we where doing the Amsterdam subway when we were chased by the guard early 2000 I think it was bloody scary.
Do you have any favorite photographers?
Not specially, there is tons of good ones, too much I would say.
Do you have any other projects you work on?
Yes I’m working mostly on badass & street life, like weed dealers, striptease club, old bank robbers, bad guys living in the social housing etc.
Who or what inspires you in photography?
First the atmosphere from the 70’s cops movies and then meeting people with a non ordinary life, unconventional and street minded, I like the vibes from the ghetto, the old new york, the rough places.
Do you have photography as your profession?
I’m 100% a photographer, working mostly for the european bubble here in Brussels, it pays the bills.
What equipment do you use?
D700 mostly, I’have a Mamiya 645 and some old nikon.
Three words that describe your photographs?
Life, atmosphere, youth!
Do you have any future projects going on?
I try to stick to my list, next project is to portrait old gangsters.
Do you have any favorite city in the world and why?
NY of course, I went there the first time in 1993, the atmosphere was intense.
Natural VS artificial light, which do you prefer working with?
Natural only, I’m documenting mostly so I want to stick with the real.
What do you do when not taking pictures?
Seeing my girl or my friends, traveling, reading books, exploring the city to find some dirty places.
What do you think of social media, give us your thoughts on the positive and negative side of it?
It’s cool to see whats going on everywhere in the world, its too bad how people are mad with social network, quality work is not anymore the criteria, now its how many followers you have.
Follow Vivian on instagram here: www.instagram.com/vivianbrussels
Check my two books out here, one is about pieces from the end of the 80’s & early 90’s in Brussels, the other one is portraits of graffiti writers: Vivian.brussels/books
Digital/Analog: Analog, but I shoot mostly digital because of the cost
Type of photo location: ghetto/dirty street
Lighting: Natural only