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Short profile

Francois Ollivier, was born and raised in the south of France, but has lived in Montreal, Canada for the past eleven years. The 40-year-old photographer, who holds both French and Canadian citizenship, studied languages and first worked as an advertising copywriter before turning to photography full time. “Montreal has made me an artist and given me 99 percent of all the opportunities I’ve had.” Those opportunities include work for Apple Music, the New York Times, the Washington Post, GQ magazine, and Air France magazine.

In the interview, he gives insights into his working method and how he approaches a motif mentally, what challenges he has had to overcome since his return from Canada, and what the big advantage is for him at his new location in the south of France.


Can you tell us a little bit about how you became a photographer?

I did not try to become one really. It came organically through opportunities and a bit of luck. I was taking pictures as a hobby with no specific intentions since 2010, I was putting a lot of efforts in my craft, building an interesting portfolio but had no idea I could eventually turn that into a career, combining commercial and editorial assignments for clients around the world.  

Photo: François Ollivier

Please share something about your images. What is your special interest? How do you choose the colors, composition, themes etc.?   

I observe, that’s what I do. When I was shooting strangers in the streets I could wait for an hour or two for the right person to show up in the location I had spotted.  

Sometimes I imagine a project that has no ties with the rest of my work (like Memory Lapses, working with reflective fabric) but I do it anyway because it’s fun and I am excited by the process as much as the outcome.  

In the most recent years, I’d say my practice could be defined as “contemporary documentary” drenched in a certain form of nostalgia and poetry. Sadly, I must admit that I tend to shoot more portrait-oriented images because they fit better in an Instagram feed, which is (sadly again) my main platform to showcase my work. Most of the time I do shoot both versions because when it comes to printing, I like landscape formats better.  

Photo: François Ollivier

Where does this interest come from?    

Making something different, highlighting details, and random things to turn them into something interesting. Bringing a bit of magic into the most common things. If I think one of my photos looks too much like something I’ve already seen, I just do not publish it or even take it.  

Photo: François Ollivier

How do you get inspired? And what inspires you the most? Films, books, or magazines? Or what surrounds you?    

I keep an eye on the trends in photography, design, cinematography but there’s nothing like being out and looking at things, walking with no goals, wandering, getting lost. You can find captivating stuff in an empty parking lot if you want to see them.  

I am inspired by the music I listen to, I think there’s always a “color” we perceive with the music in our ears, maybe that palette makes its way to my images.  

Inspiration can be the light, a weird thing happening, something I see that makes me laugh. I’m 90% of the time looking at things in terms of how I would picture them, frame the scene. It’s really a way of life lol, a full time to commitment to watching things around me in a certain way.  

What are your plans for the rest of the day?   

I am at my parents’ right now; I’ll get a train to Marseille later in the afternoon. I really need to work on a side project that is not only photographic, includes writing, and the production of objects.  

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