One guy, one city, one perspective. If that sounds familiar, you’ve seen Sebastian Erras’s mesmerising Instagram account. Whereas we’re always looking up or what’s in front of us when we travel, Sebastian shifts his perspective to something a little more detailed – floors.
In an ongoing project, PersianFloors, he travels to cities to find some of the most interesting floorwork. There’s a little peek of fashionable footwear in his images, but we’ll let him tell you the story:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
My name is Sebastian Erras. I from the beautiful southern part of Germany – Bavaria and I work as a professional photographer. I specialize in Interior & Architecture Photography but I also travel a lot and like to document my discoveries abroad.
How did you start your project with the floors?
The idea of photographing the floors came after a trip to Marrakech, where I visited the Bahia Palace. There I found some of the most beautiful mosaic floors and while walking through the monument I started taking some pictures of these mosaic floors and included my feet as a reference that it is actually a floor.
I work a lot in Paris, where I shot interiors, and when I came back to Paris I started noticing all these different colourful tiles and mosaic floors in hallways, restaurants, galleries and cafes. So I started to do the same there and that’s when the idea of the whole instagram project “parisianfloors” started in May 2015.
If we go back to the initial stages of your project, what photo gave you a sign that you had a great idea?
Not sure if I would say that initially I already knew it was a great idea. When I started it, it was something that I was passionate about. So I pursued it and the success came much later.
Did the success of your Instagram account change your style or do you have a regular routine set in place from the beginning?
Yes it changed it a bit, in the sense that it pushes and motivates me more to go the extra mile to get a good image. Now I carefully make sure that everything is symmetric and straight, that the lighting is good and then of course the styling with the shoes. Lately I’ve tried to match my pants as well.
When you travel, do you specifically look for interesting floors?
I have done a few trips lately where I wanted to shoot images specifically for the floors series. Most of these trips have been to cities in Europe like Venice, Barcelona, London, Valencia, and Milan. In the last few months I took on one of my biggest projects yet and went for 2 weeks to shoot a whole new series of Cuban floors.
Your project is all about these fine details, what do you hope observers will take away from your work?
I’ll try to draw their attention to something that is so normal to us and barely get’s noticed. I hope by showing all these beautiful designs and handmade creations (mosaics) that people appreciate the art of it a bit more. For me it’s always about how a simple change of perspective can help you discover a whole new world around you.
On a more humorous note, do you buy nice shoes for the purpose of your project?
In the beginning I had 2 or 3 pairs of my own shoes that I used for the project and I never really paid too much attention to which pair I was wearing until I got more and more comments on my shoes. That’s when I realized that they actually play an important role in the image as it’s the sole element that represents me. Since then I have found many sponsors that help me mix & match the shoes with all these floors I find.
Do you have a fun story connected to one of your photoshoots of floors on location?
Yes there are a few. Once I went into a small bistro in Paris and when I asked the owner if I could take a picture of the floor, she looked first at my face then at my shoes back at my face and then she kind of freaked out. She asked me if I was “parisianfloors” and she said that she followed me since the beginning and that she always hoped I would drop by one day and take a picture of her floor. She was really happy that day.
The other day I was flying back home to Munich and at the security check there was this young couple standing in front of me and when they turned around and looked at my shoes they were like “oh we love your project”. In the beginning I was a bit surprised and didn’t really understand but then they started talking to me and it turned out they were big fans of the floor series and they recognized me by my shoes.
Do you photograph on your phone? What’s your go-to equipment?
Most of my images I shoot on a Canon 6DII with a 16-35mm lens. The challenge sometimes with the floor images is light. So I need a camera that gives me good ISO performance and I also wanted enough resolution that will give me the option to make a book or prints in the future. Now that the smartphones are getting better and better and allow RAW image capture, I started to use my iPhone 7 from time to time when there’s enough natural light.
How many cities have you been in so far, and where are the artsiest floors (so to speak)?
I have been to 8 cities in Europe so far to shoot floors there and one country (Cuba), which was my latest series. The funny thing is that each city has it’s own character when it comes to floors. London, for example, is amazing for elaborate mosaic designs, Barcelona has beautiful tiles, Valencia is known for its Nolla design floors and Paris is a bit a mix of all of them.
Do you have plans to develop this project with floors further?
I would love to make a coffee table book out of it once I feel I am done. In Paris it is getting more and more difficult to find new floors as I have already shoot most of them and the remaining ones are hidden in private buildings, which are hard to access. So I am slowly reaching an end, but I am still researching and trying to see if I can find other interesting destination that have unique floors.
What currently fascinates you and what are your aspirations for the future?
I would like to continue to travel the world, explore different cultures and discover and unravel all these untold stories.