Full Stop

A few hours after I published my last post, Migros Magazine finally contacted me, apologizing for the modification of my picture and claiming that I was “… completely right: it loses a bit of the intensity” but then blaming its cropping on the website requirement and its editing on the printing of the magazine, requesting the contrast to be modified.

Modifying a picture to print it doesn’t mean that the same version has to be published online. And if a website can not display pictures without cropping them, then it has a serious problem, even more when it is supposed to host a photo competition. A proof that it is possible is that, a few hours after that email was sent, my picture was finally visible in its original version on their website. And I would prefer not comment on the “loses a bit of the intensity”.

25 July 2014: Cruise on the Bosphorus and drinking competition between a mother and her son. Istanbul surroundings, Turkey.

I know Migros is not a photography magazine and I appreciate their efforts to promote or to show humanitarian’s work under a different angle. However, their attitude is unfortunately very representative of the society today. Photographers and their work are not as respected as much as they should.  Pictures are frequently used without proper credits or edited without their author’s approval. Photographers are not always paid for their work, or late or simply with peanuts, as if taking pictures was just pressing a button. Some can blame the crisis in the photojournalism industry. But as said Jean-Francois Leroy, director of Visa pour l’Image: “Magazines always say they have no money [for serious reportage]. This is bullshit. They have a lot of money for pictures of Prince William’s girlfriend, but not enough to send two photographers to Chechnya? Bullshit.”

If “a picture is worth a thousand words”, maybe it is good to remember that there is some work behind it …

P.S: That also means that you can not use the pictures of my website without my approval 😉

Lack of dignity

Photography is not random. Good pictures are rarely taken by pure accident. Put a camera in my hands and I usually feel obsessed by photography. I try to find a rare moment, a good light, something different, or something that reminds me something else, another picture, another ambiance or atmosphere. And I set my camera to get what I want, what I think would give me what I want.

25 July 2014: Cruise on the Bosphorus, next to Istanbul, Turkey.

The result is rarely exactly matching my expectations and even when it looks ok, I remain anxious till I can see it in front of my computer. Most of the time, I am not really satisfied or even not satisfied at all. But when I feel I got something nice, then I feel happy, in peace with myself and quickly want to get a second one, like a drug addict.

Those pictures are my pictures, my babies, my testimony of life around me. Even if I am the only one looking at them or appreciating them.

24 July 2014: Ghulane Park, Istanbul, Turkey.

Few weeks ago, a Swiss Magazine, Migros, selected one of my pictures, already published here on my blog, for a photo competition on the subject “Dignity despite suffering”. I was first happy to have the opportunity of sharing it with a larger audience than my blog, and to hopefully have people looking at life in Central African Republic a bit differently.

But once published online, I instantly realized that it had not only been processed (exposure changed, to make it brighter) but also cropped. My picture was not random. Before I took it, I first saw a moment that inspired me, that I wanted to share. Then, I moved to find the right angle, composition and light. And finally, I waited, till the mother turned her head, till the children in the background stopped waving at me. I wanted a unique moment and, for once, I got it. But Migros made it more random, by breaking the symmetry, composition and brightness of my picture, without even informing me or asking for my authorization. I contacted them three times to ask them to revert it to its original version or to, at least,  give me an explanation. I am still waiting…

Keeping my picture as it had been taken would not have cost them anything, not even time. And lets by honest, I do not consider that retouching it changed, in one way or another, my chance of winning (or losing). But it just seems that, despite their “prestigious jury” (…), Migros, as many others before them, does not see photographies as the result of a work or some reflexions, but just as someone pressing the button of an automatic random camera. Something without value, that they can modify however they feel like and make their. Sad… and I’m not sure to see any dignity in it.