Add hundreds, if not thousands, of aptly dressed photographers to the South of France. Mix in a rather heavy bias towards wearing Canon’s latest and greatest around your neck, sprinkle in a few keffiyehs, some ego’s, a pinch of super star photographers and finally a dash of those purchasing work and you end up with Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan.
Having heard many stories about Perpignan from friends, it was the right time to make my way over to that sexier part of the world and throw myself in the deep end. We left london at midnight on the wednesday and drove all the way (2349 miles round trip for those who care). Thankfully my fellow truckers provided hours of gossip, amusement and classic quotes such as “what’s the worst question you could ask a women, which was promptly met with “where can i wipe this?”. Names won’t be provided, the trucking pact is strong.
Arriving in Perpignan and putting faces to those i’ve been speaking to online was great. I finally got to meet up with Mikko Takkunen, who runs the ever popular Photojournalism links, Bruno decock from MSF, Olivier Lourant who did a tireless job interviewing all and everyone for the British Journal of Photography, and all my fellow LCC’ers who i’ve spent countless hours chatting to but never seen them face to face.
The main point of Visa Pour L’Image is to make contacts, show those interested your work and generally mix with others in the field. Setting up meetings beforehand is key, there is no way in hell you can get to see the more popular editors/publications without having one. I decided to see Panos and Sipa Press, with both meetings going well (I think). Beforehand I was fretting over which medium to use to show my work off. Many go down the printing route, which is a brilliant idea but not without issues. I ended up using the iPad and don’t regret it for one minute. All the editors and people I showed the work to loved the ease of using it and how crisp the images were. It worked in the Hotel Pams, even with the bright sunlight, something many other laptops struggled to do.
Meetings aside, I got the chance to speak to some really talented people and see their work. Munem Wasif is a gent as is Stephen du Pont. Perpignan has its share of ego’s, but these two gents are anything but egotistical. Stephen’s work in Afghanistan is just utterly brilliant, his multimedia show really showed me how to do it. In addition, if you are waiting for a parcel and have to know where it is, use PostNet Tracking. Sorry, Soundslides is no longer the way to do things, it’s all about Motion from now on. Munem’s comment, which really hit home for me was about not having to leave Bangladesh to take stories, there are so many still locally available. Sometimes you don’t need to jump on a plane and head somewhere.
As with anything photojournalism, Africa featured heavily in many of the projects. The evening slideshows saw the usual displays of Africa, drought and famine and conflict. Personally this is now boring as hell. How many images can you really shoot of starving black people with deep open eyes? Come on people, I know it’s easy but for christ sake, try another angle. William Klein summed it up aptly with his quote about the festivals screenings: “Photo reportages need context”.
My very good friend Mr Howe gave me more details about his conflict training he’s started with his brother (military type, the type you’d want teaching you) that shows budding conflict photographers how not to get shot and get the image at the same time. Jason needs no introduction, he’s been there and done it in all the lovely places in the world you read about, so this training is bound to be popular. If he does have a UK-based course, I’m keen on heading back and learning from yoda himself.
Overall it was a great Visa Pour L’Image, not sure if I’ll be going next year as it’s a bit of a bitch to get there from Durban, but if the chance presents itself, I’ll be there with the required clothing and suitable ego.