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Culture

Photojournalism is alive and kicking at Perpignan

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Sarah LEDUC

Latest update : 2009-09-09

The Perpignan photo festival, “Visa pour l’image”, is a must-see exhibition for amateur photographers and connoisseurs alike, it promotes everyone from young pioneers to the icons of photography.

No, photojournalism is not dead. The 24 exhibitions on show at the Perpignan photo festival are proof enough that the art is surviving despite a real crisis gripping the trade. French photo agency Gamma is set to fire a dozen photographers, young photographers are funding projects themselves, and photojournalists are struggling to sell their work.

However, it’s evident, as visitors stroll around the Perpignan festival that talented photographers, pioneering image crafters, adventurers, sensitive, ironic or critical photographers are still out there in the field.
 

Focusing on the news

 

The Perpignan photo festival, which runs from August 29 through to September 13, promotes coverage of events that took place during the preceding year. The festival awarded Afghan photographer and former refugee Zalmai with the Visa d’Or prize, for his work on his homeland after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

 

Only months after President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of the last American soldiers in Iraq, US photographer Eugene Richards presented his project called “War is personal” on the impact of the war in Iraq on US veterans.

Among other highlights was Callie Shell’s work on Barack Obama’s spectacular rise to power, from his early days on the campaign trail all the way to the White House

 

Talent-scouting

 

The Perpignan photo festival promotes young photographers as well as icons such as David Burnett, who covered the birth of the Iranian Islamic Republic in 1979, or the late French photojournalist Françoise Demulder, who was the first woman to win the World press photo award.

 

Massimo Berruti won the City of Perpignan Young Reporter Award for his work covering changing Pakistani society (“Pakistan – fiction or reality?”). Ulla Lohmann presents “Fifteen years of ashes” in Rabaul, a town in Papua-New Guinea that was destroyed in 1994 during a volcanic eruption and now regularly endures showers of black ash.

 

New technologies

 

The Internet was also part of the festival this year, as organisers unveiled its first area devoted to multimedia and Web documentaries, with RFI and France 24 launching a Web documentary award.

Le Monde.fr was awarded its first prize for their work “The Incarcerated Body”. While this new format has yet to find its economic model, it offers a wide range of possibilities for photojournalists.

So, who said photojournalists were in danger of extinction? As US photographer David Burnett says, "The answers are there, and only need to be found”.

Date created : 2009-09-09

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