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Ussi’n Yala is a self-taught photographer (born 1993, Gabon) and currently based in Paris. Attracted by art, especially music from an early age, he feeds his passion through it.
His interest in photography was built later on in 2015 by wanting to document the lives of people in Gabon.
Arrived in France in late 2016, he started doing more fashion and portraits through which he explores gender identities in Africa and its diasporas.
You were born in Gabon, Central Africa, how did you end up in Paris?
After I’ve got my license in Banking and Finance I came to Paris to continue my studies. I converted to the artistic field and I recently graduated with a Master in Art Direction and Digital Design in one of the best communication schools in Paris.
What was it that made you pick up a camera and start shooting the subjects you do?
I was running a community account at the time on Instagram whose purpose was to promote Gabonese beauty. An account with very high visibility today. Not always satisfied with the photos that were sent to me, I thought it would be interesting to offer photo shoots to people who wanted to appear on the page. From there I bought my first camera. A Nikon D3100.
I will always remember it. Step by step I started to find real pleasure in it. I got involved in it more seriously, and I went from portrait to photo report. From there, things went very quickly. My photos were very appreciated and I naturally decided to use this medium to tell my story and those of people like me.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently designing a book that brings together all my street photos taken in Gabon. I also plan to organize a solo exhibition for its promotion. For the moment no date has been set yet.
Do you often return to Africa? Do you miss things about France when you do, and when your in France do you miss things about where your from?
To be honest it’s been almost two years since I went there ! But I dream of going back. Maybe not in Gabon. I would like to visit other African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Senegal….
What I miss most is the sun and food … So much the better lol!
What is it that got you into shooting fashion photography?
I’ve always been attracted to fashion since I was a child. At the age of 11 I drew my own sketches and I wanted to be a fashion designer. I watched a TV show called “Top Model” at the time which inspired me a lot lol. Because of the environment in which I grew up, I stopped drawing and almost lost this childhood dream.
Today through photography I saw an opportunity to get back to it ! We never know, maybe I will launch my own brand in the future :p !
Do you have any projects planed for 2020 you would like to share with us?
Of course I have plans for 2020 … I already shared one of them with you above. You will discover the rest for yourself 😉
In Paris, where do you hang out? What do you love / hate about the city?
I used to go at Le Comptoir General to take some drinks with friends. It’s a very nice bar near Canal Saint Martin in the 10th disctrict of Paris. The decoration is fantastic! A charming place that I highly recommend.
OMG ! I hate the gray weather we have during the year, it’s so depressing! Also, Parisians are not always very warm. They complain a lot when actually they have everything to be happy and share smiles on the street. For someone like me it can be very annoying.
What I like in Paris is this feeling of freedom that you can have. When you take your marks you can really enjoy living there and we must recognize that it’s a beautiful city!
Where can we find you online?
On Instagram and Tumblr @ussinyala . I also recommend taking a look at my website www.ussinyala.com