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From her early polaroids documenting the subcultures and landscapes of New Mexico, Arizona and New Orleans, through to her elegant and sophisticated Girls and Flowers series published earlier this year, Kristin Vicari's photos are always imbued with a sense of freedom and exploration. We met up with Kristin recently and had a chat about her love of Diane Arbus, skipping school, getting her first camera, being discovered at Dazed & Confused, her new home in the french countryside and how she finds the spirit in people.

Can you remember the first photograph that resonated with you ?
I’m not exactly sure the very first, from a very young age I was always collecting different books and magazines and most of them were of photographers or artists. I remember being particularly in love with Diane Arbus’ work, her portraits were beautiful but at the same time off and a little disturbing.
Why did you start taking photographs yourself ?
When I was in high school I wasn’t the 'best' student and I used to skip school a lot to hang out with my older friends, one of them had an old canon and he would take me on road trips through the swamps (I’m from Louisiana). He would take loads of random pictures of different things we passed, after a while he gave me the camera as a gift and from then on whenever I wasn’t in school I was driving around being a delinquent and taking pictures of a lot of nothing.
Your career as a photographer happened almost by chance while working as a retoucher when someone at Dazed and Confused came across your polaroids. Can you share any of these early polaroids with us ?
Yes these were a progression of those early swamp pictures, they were polaroids of all the people I was meeting after just arriving in London, actually maybe these were the first pictures I started to take of people !
Dazed featured your work which led to your first commercial commission with Diesel shooting their Be Stupid campaign for two seasons. Did you feel a little bit like you had been thrown in at the deep end with Diesel working on such a high profile commercial campaign ?
Yes it was definitely like being thrown into the deep end ! But I was fortunate to be working with some of the most incredible people, Anomaly Agency New York were the ones who had found and commissioned me and they were well aware this was my first job, so they were really there for me and incredibly supportive throughout the shoots.

 

Kevin Lyons the creative director was so inspiring to work with as was one of our models Aymeline Valade ( who afterwards went on to become one of the most sought after models in the industry). We had so much fun working together, it’s still to this day one of my best memories.

You recently moved to the countryside outside Paris where you often invite models for photo shoots. Is this where your girls and flowers story began ? Can you tell us a little bit about how these shoots unfold ?
I still ‘live’ in Paris officially but yes I have a little house now about a two hour drive away in a place called Le Perche (it’s in Lower Normandy). I was feeling a bit lost with everything in the last few years. I had been living in busy cities for the last eleven years and a part of me was really craving some open space to be creative, and I definitely have found that in my little farm out here in the middle of nowhere!

 

I feel more free and alive here than I have ever felt before, it’s like having all the space around me allows my thoughts to run freely all day. I did the house up to be a ‘living studio’ which basically means it's very inviting and cosy which makes people instantly relax here and I can get more out of my subjects.

The girls come from Paris and they take the morning train in and we normally sit down to have a lunch together and then just take it naturally from there, I just photograph the moments really. My series Girls and Flowers actually started because each time I updated my portfolio I realised I kept getting more and more images of girls with flowers, I think it was subconscious thing that eventually just needed to be consciously explored. And Le Perche was the perfect place to really get involved in it.

What is your favourite view ?
My favourite real life view is between my balcony in Paris, we’re on the fifth floor and you can see the golden angels of Opera in the far distance. The other would be our little bedroom window in the countryside it overlooks the small road that no cars ever go down. It makes me feel like I have my own private world here.
Your first post on your Tumblr Blog, The Nothing, is a beautiful quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s ‘If you let yourself love a wild thing, you will end up looking at the sky”. When I look through your photos it seems like you are always capturing fleeting moments with all these wild things. Would you say that is what motivates you as a photographer ?
Yeah it’s just about capturing a small part of something I’m living with someone at that moment. I just like meeting and chatting to the people I’ll be photographing, I’ve been very lucky in meeting some incredible people along the way. Life is full of little moments.. if you don’t stop to enjoy them they will just pass you by. So I guess in way I try and capture a moment with someone and if they feel themselves around me I can capture a little part of their spirit as well.
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