I have come to know the boy and his mum on this image fairly effectively. I used to be learning documentary images on the College of South Wales in 2013 once I got here throughout the annual Elvis competition within the small seaside city of Porthcawl. I went again the subsequent 5 years working, impressed and intrigued by how a lot Elvis resonated in individuals’s lives.
On my second go to, I ended up on this room behind the bar at one of many venues, the place artists had been getting modified. I noticed this little boy who was performing there at solely eight years previous, carrying this lovely white Elvis go well with. He was concentrating, taking his job very critically, and I requested if I may take his portrait. His mom, grandmother and grandfather had been there as effectively. His title was John Paul and, at the moment, his stage title was Johnny B Goode. I’ve been documenting his Elvis work ever since.
The next 12 months, I returned to the competition and that again room the place, once more, I caught John Paul getting modified for his act. His mum, Alison, informed me they had been off to Memphis to participate in a contest, and I informed her I’d be travelling within the US round then and requested if I may be a part of them within the metropolis.
So in August 2016, I met up with John Paul, his mom and his grandmother, Margaret. John Paul was collaborating in a youth competitors in an enormous theatre on Beale Road, the primary road in Memphis. He additionally went to file his album at Solar Studio. After which the household visited Elvis’s grave at Graceland. It was a really emotional second as a result of John Paul’s grandfather – who was additionally an enormous Elvis fan – had died the 12 months earlier than.
I’d had this random point-and-shoot digicam for ages, extra like a snapshot digicam, and I took it with me as a result of I needed much less managed photographs. Photographs that felt extra like vacation footage, in a manner. I managed to take a couple of footage that had been all proper, together with this one. Usually I’d use a medium format digicam, which is larger decision. This digicam is extra grainy and simply totally different.
I don’t keep in mind precisely the place this was taken however I do keep in mind that his mom’s tattoo was a pretend one she’d bought on the journey. I feel it was in all probability a carpark outdoors Graceland. John Paul’s go well with was made by his grandmother, who has since died, too. She had a room in her attic with a stitching machine and she or he made all his outfits.
John Paul began being serious about Elvis when he was two and he sang as Elvis for the primary time – If I Can Dream – when he was 4. He’s been singing ever since. He’s 16 now, in school learning music, and I’m nonetheless in contact with him. He has gained a number of confidence on stage, his voice has matured. It’s been very emotional to see him changing into a person and listen to his voice evolve. His mom has been very supportive and inspiring. I went again to the Porthcawl Elvis competition this 12 months, in September, and noticed him once more. He’s aiming to be knowledgeable within the leisure trade and is presently giving concert events in native social golf equipment in addition to care houses and different venues in his native Wigan.
After my diploma, I made a decision to remain in Wales as a result of I used to be feeling so impressed and making a number of work there. Then, in 2016, I did a a practice-based PhD, engaged on a challenge with youth teams within the Welsh valleys for which we created footage and ran workshops. We exhibited that challenge in 2019 on the Martin Parr basis in Bristol. For my challenge Laundry Day [two pictures from which won the Taylor Wessing portrait prize], I photographed my nextdoor neighbour throughout lockdown, doing each day chores and resting in her backyard.
I grew up within the suburbs of Paris, in a small and quiet city. On reflection, I can see that the little issues that happen in a suburban context are what informs my curiosity to find authentic tales that may in any other case get neglected.
Clémentine Schneidermann’s CV
Born: Clamart, France, 1991
Educated: CEPV, Vevey, Switzerland and the College of South Wales
Influences: Lisette Mannequin, Julian Germain, Bruno Dumont, Lise Sarfati, Alessandra Sanguinetti
Excessive level: “Successful the Taylor Wessing prize final week felt surreal.”
Low level: “Social media strain and anxiousness for creatives.”
Prime tip: “Be curious and passionate concerning the smallest issues, even when they appear insignificant to others.”