24 September 2016: Cugy (VD), Switzerland.
One week in Perpignan, for the traditional photo festival Visa pour l’Image, admiring the inspiring work of great photojournalists and improving my understanding of the world, in its best and worst aspects.
Back at the office, the portraits of two of my colleagues stand next to a condolence book. Another source of motivation. We better have to be outstanding now…
05 September 2015: Visa pour l’Image, Perpignan, France.
My two phones have been switched off, new symbol of a laissez aller, encouraging my brain to let go and to enjoy the fresh breeze. I wish I could be dancing in a cold fjord.
After 3 months and 7 days, my plane-free detox stopped, with a return to Europe announcing the beginning of a new mission. I am, finally, going to Yemen.
And the music get louder…
More than 10 years after its publication, I read again the book/comic “The Photographer“, taking place in Afghanistan and particularly in Badakhshan. Strange feeling than to realize that what was a source of amazement and admiration a few years ago is now a source of memories and nostalgia. Working in Afghanistan wasn’t always easy but definitely was a fantastic and rewarding experience. End of a cycle… for now.
21 February 2015: Bagan, Myanmar/Burma.
Now, with my bags and trunks ready, a new standby started today. New mission in Yemen and already a feeling of frustration not to be there with and for my team. Soon… inch’allah.
24 February 2015: Mandalay, Myanmar/Burma.
2001: My first flight ever to Southeast Asia is booked and a wave of panic is hitting me, hard, as I am realizing I am about to leave my confort zone. “What am I gonna do if I fall sick, can’t communicate with people or simply don’t feel comfortable, so far from home?”
24 February 2015: U Bein bridge, next to Mandalay, Myanmar/Burma.
2015: I’m reading at the back of a taxi driving to Bangkok center. My body is relaxing while my mind is getting increasingly excited about the idea of going to my favorite Japanese restaurant in town. While I look outside, checking if the driver is taking the right road, I start thinking of the different places I like in Bangkok and would like to go back to in the coming days. Once again, being here suddenly feels like Home.
20 February 2015: Mr. Aye Kyaw Htay, vendor in Zegyo Market, Mandalay, Myanmar/Burma.
And while my heartbeat keeps dropping, I wonder how I would have reacted, back then, in 2001, if someone had predicted 2015 to me. A punch in his face, maybe. Or, more certainly, a stronger panic attack… 😉
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi
Yes, 10 days of yoga and meditation make you more flexible, quiet and a bit cheesy ;-).
16 February 2015: Glen, Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand
End of mission. Ciao radio, security checks, curfews, IEDs and 24/7 phone. Welcome deep sleeps, books, massages, good food and inner silence. Southeast Asia, I’m coming back.
21 January 2015: Majid, Samanghan province, Afghanistan.
Time flies. Two years ago, I was in Yaounde, Cameroon, wondering if my new job really was for me. Today, I am writing my end of mission report in Afghanistan, waiting for a good break, already knowing another challenge is coming.
14 January 2013: Sarah, waiting in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Miles Davis and a smelly bukhari (Afghan fuel heater) are warming up my mood and room. Earlier in the afternoon, I got the very stupid idea of looking at readers’s comments on a Swiss newspaper’s website. Reading so many bitter people expressing their frustration on any single subject they could, without even knowing what they are talking about, raised a few questions in my mind. Is bashing everyone and everything around them making them feel better? Why are they considering themselves as “being a 100% Swiss” and why would it matter? “Hell is other people” wrote Sartre…
But who cares… I finally got the chance to take a portrait I was initially supposed to take a year ago 🙂
20 December 2014: Curzio, Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.
After more than a year in the field with a technically limited camera (poor or no AF, limited ISO, poor ergonomic), I bought last Summer a Fuji X-T1 with two lenses. It is not the first time that I’m trying to have a smaller camera, easier to carry than my usual Canon 5D and lenses (filing a backpack on their own). I bought a few compact cameras in the past but never really felt confortable with them and finally always preferred to work with my Canon. However, 18 months ago, the security situation in the places where I was working and the difficulty to travel with that heavy backpack forced me to change my plans and to use for some time a camera, limited to max 800 or 1600 ISO, with a pathetic AF system but great picture quality.
While it restricted the number or kind of shots I could take (e.g. low light portrait), it surprisingly also improved my way of shooting. It forced me to better prepare my shoots, to care less about sharpness and more about content. And because I did not have enough shutter speed at low light, I was then forced to improve my slow shutter speed skills, learning something new.
Since I bought a Fuji X-T1, I received several times the same questions “Is it better than Canon?” “Don’t you miss a full frame sensor”? No, it is not as good as Canon (slower auto-focus, less ergonomic). But I can carry it with me more easily and adapt my pictures to its limitation. Like too many before me, I certainly wasted way too much time in the past focusing on equipment or picture’s sharpness, rather than trying to improve my pictures and my eye.
I had the pleasure to talk lately with another enthusiastic photographer about camera, photography in general and how photography coule make us become more attentive of things around us. A particular light, some expressions or any small details, making our life a bit different. And that’s certainly what matters to me. Photographing those instants, those details that I like; or capturing some faces or moments I would like to keep for me.
Maybe my camera can not shoot all the things another one could (e.g. challenging sport shots). But at least, I can have it with me in any bag and take the kind of shots I really like.
21 November 2014: A bread vendor during a buzkashi match in Mazar-e-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan.