"My whole creative process is to develop concepts that will make people view basketball as an art form."
Kevin Couliau is a Paris-based photographer and filmmaker renowned for his work documenting the game of basketball. From the award-winning film Doin' It In The Park, to numerous Asphalt Chronicles publications, photo exhibitions, and brand partnerships––he's spent nearly two decades capturing stories about basketball culture and impact around the world. We recently caught up with Kevin to learn more about his creative process, current projects, and his go-to ILE bags. Check out our interview below:
Kevin, tell us a bit about yourself, what you do for a living, and your interests outside of work.
I'm a Paris-based photographer & filmmaker with a background in basketball and skateboarding. I grew up being influenced by both sports’ subcultures & creativity through magazines, VHS, docs…a life between the playground and skate spots. So after a few gigs in the retail industry, I grabbed a camera and started documenting playground basketball in New York City and Europe. It led me to direct Doin' It In The Park, an independent documentary revealing pick-up basketball's history, culture, and social impact in NYC.
The film had a successful release in 2013, and since then I have been exploring the world, from the US to Asia, from Europe to Africa, to document the game's global reach. My primary focus is to elevate the game's aesthetics and tell unique stories through publications like Asphalt Chronicles and fine art exhibitions. When not working on my personal stuff, I spend my summers working with sports related non-profits such as Giants of Africa.
What does your creative process look like? What are some current themes you're exploring through your work?
I'm surfing on this thin line between documentary and fine art on a subject that can be unpopular outside the US. So my whole creative process is to develop concepts that will make people view basketball as an art form. My most recent photo book, Blacktop Memento, fragments of erosion, is a collection of 76 basketball court textures revealing the effect of humans and nature on these playgrounds' concrete, paint, and structure. An abstract perspective on sport, diving also into urban planning and how we perceive the spaces we use.
In the coming months I'll also be exhibiting archives from my journey within New York City's basketball culture with the good folks from the NYC Parks Department.
What ILE pieces are you carrying? How do they complement your daily life?
I'm currently using two ILE bags in my daily rotation––the Photo Bag Prime, which is by far one of the most sturdy camera bags I’ve ever used. And as we photographers love our bags and try everything, finding the perfect companion is quite challenging. With the Photo Bag Prime, I found a bag that doesn't turn me into a Ninja Turtle and forces me to take the necessary and not overload myself with stuff I won't use (that's our problem–the more space, the more we bring).
The other bag is the Porteur Rackbag - Small that I use for everything in the streets of Paris! It's permanently mounted on my Pelago rack so that I can fill it with my sports gear, groceries, or anything else. I love how easily I can eject it and use it as a sling bag. Both bags are in Multicam Black X50 XPAC, my prime purchase choice.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Couliau.