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September 2009
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Blog 7 – The final curtain

The first act of the final evening screening at the 21st Visa pour l’Image festival on 5 September was the announcement of the winner of the prestigious Visa d’Or News award for 2009, that’s sponsored by Paris Match.

Slideshows of the work of the four award nominees then held the audience entranced for several minutes. The photojournalists nominated for the 2009 award were Walter Astrada (Agence France Presse) for ‘Bloodbath in Madagascar’; Enrico Dagnino (2e Bureau for Paris Match) for ‘Forced Return’; Wotjek Grzedzinski (Dziennik/Napo Images) for ‘The Georgian Conflict’; and Dominic Nahr (OEil Public) for ‘Democratic Republic of Congo: The Road to Nowhere’.

Festival director Jean-François Leroy then announced that the Visa d’Or News for 2009 had been awarded to Wojtek Grzedzinski for his haunting coverage of the conflict in Georgia. Grzedzinski bounded on to the stage at Campo Santo seemingly surprised but delighted with his award. He thanked the judges and told the crowd that he was looking forward to taking on new projects.

The crowds at both Campo Santo and La Place de la République then sat back to watch the final screening of the week which featured an up-to-date summary of news photography in 2009, the death of Kodachrome film, plus a look back at the images of the Apollo space missions. The screening ended with Steve McCurry’s ‘signature’ image – the photograph of an Afghan refugee girl that graced the cover of National Geographic back in June 1985 – and the crowds departed into the darkened streets of Perpignan.



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Blog 6 – Visa d’Or Feature award announced

At the start of the evening screenings last night Visa pour l’Image festival director Jean-François Leroy called legendary former Sunday Times Magazine art director Michael Rand on stage at Campo Santo to reveal the winner of the Visa d’Or Feature award.

The four-strong shortlist for this award was Miquel Dewever-Plana (Agence VU) for 'Guatemala: The Other War'; Jérôme Sessini (OEil Public for Le Monde 2 and le Figaro magazine) for 'Drug Trafficking in Mexico: So far from God, too close to the USA'; Callie Shell (Aurora Photos/Cosmos for Time magazine) for her Barack Obama images; and Zalmaï for his project Afghanistan ‘Promises and Lies: The human cost of the war on terror’.

© Zalmaï

Kabul Afghanistan, 2008. Returnees in a refugee camp, where there are no jobs, schools, roads, clinics or hospital. The war in Afghanistan has spread, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. Most displaced people come to Kabul.

From that quartet Zalmaï was announced as the winner of the Visa d’Or Feature award for 2009 for his Afghanistan work and he will receive an €8,000 prize courtesy of the Languedoc-Roussillon Region, who backed this award for the second time.

Eugene Richards on ‘War is Personal’

Photojournalist Eugene Richards sat in front of a large audience in the Charles Trenet auditorium of the Palais des Congrès this morning to discuss his project ‘War is Personal’. The project covers the lives of 15 American families with military connections who have been profoundly affected by the war in Iraq.

When asked about how the idea came about Richards revealed: “The title came from going to a demonstration - at that demonstration my wife and son were arrested. That night I wrote a sort of poem.” The poem begins with the line ‘War is Personal’.

He explained: “When you shoot these kind of things you don't want to intrude, so I hope that the stories are very natural, because that was the way we took them. I’ve worked on the piece for about three years but often it was very quick on a shoot… for just a day or so. I’m pretty anonymous; I’m pretty boring, so people forget that I’m in the room. It’s (picture taking) an intimate, quiet process.”

© Dan Kendall

Eugene Richards, left, explaining his ‘War is Personal’ project on stage with Visa pour l’Image presenter Lucas Menget at the Palais des Congrès.

He also revealed: “In America they haven't seen the pictures. I’ve tried to get them seen but I think there’s a certain weariness, people are tired of the images from the war. ” As well as having a battle to get his images seen in the USA Richards explained that the book of the project was now with its fifth publisher, but he feels confident it will happen: “Now is not a bad time to publish this work because it’s a time for reflection.”

After an hour on stage, and many questions from the audience, Richards had to gesture to the crowd to stop their appreciative clapping and was then able to leave the stage.

Toasting the Canon AFJ Award winners

Following the stunning presentation of Eugene Richards, which held the audience silent and spellbound, photographers Brenda Ann Kenneally and Justyna Milenikiewicz took to the stage in the Charles Trenet auditorium as the most recent two winners of the Canon AFJ Award for female photojournalists. They were joined by Pascal Briard (Canon France), Cyril Drouhet (Le Figaro Magazine) and Isabelle Fougère (of the French Association of Female Photojournalists, AFJ).

Pascal Briard told the audience: “Canon is totally committed to photojournalism. This prize has become an institution – we get applications from every corner of the world.”

© Dan Kendall

The panel at the Canon AFJ Award presentation this morning. From left to right: Brenda Ann Kenneally, Isabelle Fougère (AFJ), Justyna Mielnikiewicz, Cyril Drouhet (Le Figaro Magazine) and Pascal Briard (Canon France).

As last year’s award winner Kenneally’s work on poverty in the town of Troy, New York, is being shown this year at the Couvent des Minimes. The €8,000 grant that Mielnikiewicz has received will allow her to continue her project shooting the Caucasus region of the former Soviet republics.

She explained: “I worked for a Polish daily newspaper but as much as I love working in news I really love to work as a documentary photographers. For news coverage you go to places where they send you, but when you do documentary photography you go to places you want to go to.”

Mielnikiewicz moved to Tbilisi in 2002 and still lives there. She revealed: “This award will give me the chance to finish the project. The Caucasus are extremely mixed, extremely complicated. I am interested in things that are complicated, that have many different levels.”

Mielnikiewicz also made an appearance at the traditional Canon cocktail party at a packed Canon Space this lunchtime as Canon Ambassadors Ziv Koren, Jonathan Scott and Angie Scott, freelance photographers, pictures editors and other industry figures toasted the new Canon AFJ Award winner.

She drew laughter from the assembled crowd when she explained: “I believe this prize is to show that women are as good as men! I think that the Brenda Ann Kenneally exhibition here is amazing and I hope that next year I’ll be able to show something that’s as good.”

© Dan Kendall

The crowds gather at Steve McCurry’s book signing this afternoon.

McCurry mobbed

Today photographer Steve McCurry (Magnum Photos) paid a whistle-stop, one-day visit to Perpignan that included a book signing at Couvent des Minimes at 4pm this afternoon.

As one of the star attractions of this year’s Visa pour l’Image McCurry was literally mobbed - his signing table had to be moved as the growing crowd was blocking the entrance to the exhibition venue. CPN left him surrounded by a throng of fans but you can still catch his exhibition ‘The Unguarded Moment’ at the Couvent des Minimes.

Picture of the day

Throughout the week CPN is asking photographers or industry figures to choose an image from the festival. Today’s image, by Brenda Ann Kenneally, was chosen by Cyril Drouhet, the editor-in-chief (photos) of Le Figaro Magazine.

“You can see in all of Brenda’s pictures that she has stayed there for such a long time to be able to take such pictures. To take this kind of a picture you have to be a ‘phantom’ – it’s as if there was no photographer there. She (Brenda) takes this kind of picture time after time. Also, it’s very rare to see pictures of poverty in America; what I would call ‘the forgotten America’. You see the eyes of these girls and it is as if there is no life there. It’s a good résumé of how they live. You look at it and say to yourself, ‘Oh my God, I don't want to be there’.”

© Brenda Ann Kenneally. Canon Female Photojournalist Award. Presented by the French Association of Female Journalists (AFJ - Association des Femmes Journalistes).

Megan, Laurie’s eldest daughter, gets breakfast for herself while Laurie is at work.



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Blog 5 – The screenings take to the streets

On the evening of 3 September the Visa pour l’Image screenings went public with an estimated crowd of around 1,000 people watching the proceedings at Campo Santo on a huge screen in La Place de la République.

There was a clear poignance to last night’s screening as the crowd in La Place de la République listened intently as festival director Jean-François Leroy paid tribute to photographer and film-maker Christian Poveda who was shot dead in El Salvador yesterday whilst covering the gang struggles in the country. A clearly emotional Jean-François Leroy asked for a moment’s silence that was beautifully respected in La Place de la République.

The screenings at La Place de la République have a clear contrast to the somewhat more restrained atmosphere of the Campo Santo venue as those watching in the public square are eating, drinking and, sometimes, even dancing.

© Dan Kendall

La Place de la République fills up for the public screening.

The awards continue…

As the professional week of Visa pour l’Image progresses the awards begin to come thick and fast with the first of the Visa d’Or prizes being announced last night. The Visa d’Or Daily Press Award went to the Los Angeles Times and photographer Barbara Davidson with a €8,000 prize coming courtesy of the SNCF (French Railways).

The screening on 3 September also saw the announcement of the latest recipients of the Getty Images Grants for editorial photography. The vice president of photo assignments for Getty Images, Aidan Sullivan, came up on stage at Campo Santo to reveal the winners. He explained: “One of the consequences of this recession has seen the funding of our friends and colleagues in magazines and newspapers around the world fall. That’s why these grants are more important than ever.”

The decision of the judges – Cheryl Newman (picture editor of the Telegraph Magazine), Volker Lensch (photo editor, Stern) and Jean-François Leroy meant that $20,000 grants have each been awarded to Krisanne Johnson (USA), Brenda Ann Kenneally (USA), and Zalmaï (originally from Afghanistan).

Johnson’s project ‘I Love You Real Fast’ examines the lives of young women in Swaziland who have life expectancy of less than 31 years due to the high rate of HIV infections. Brenda Ann Kenneally’s ongoing project ‘Upstate Girls: What Became of Collar City’ studies the issues of class and poverty in Troy, New York state, whilst Zalmaï’s ‘Promises and Lies’ shows how the war on terror has had a toll on the people of Afghanistan.

© Brenda Ann Kenneally

Portfolio image, courtesy of Brenda Ann Kenneally

As well as the three $20,000 grants announced last night two student Getty Images Grants of $5,000 were awarded to Ed Ou (Canada) and Carl Kiilsgaard (USA). Ou’s ‘Perilous Journey’ project documents the perilous journey that Somali refugees take as they try to reach Yemen, whilst Kiilsgaard’s ‘The White Family’ follows a family living in poverty in rural Kentucky. Kiilsgaard said: “The Getty Images grant will allow me to continue to raise awareness about those struggling in a region that most Americans have forgotten about.”

You can find out more about the Getty Images Grants at the Getty images website.

Earlier today the 29-year-old Italian photographer Massimo Berruti took to the stage at the Charles Trenet auditorium in the Palais des Congrès to talk about his work ‘Pakistan – Fact or Fiction’ that has won the City of Perpignan Young Reporter’s Award 2009.

Photographer Massimo Berruti, second right, at the presentation of the City of Perpignan Young Reporter’s Award in the Palias des Congrès on 4 September

Photographer Massimo Berruti, second right, at the presentation of the City of Perpignan Young Reporter’s Award in the Palias des Congrès on 4 September

Jean-François Leroy opened the presentation by talking about Berruti’s work: “I find Massimo’s work extraordinary in how he composes and frames it – it’s so precise, so rigorous.” The senator-mayor of Perpignan, Jean-Paul Alduy, then joined Massimo Berruti on stage and explained: “The city of Perpignan has supported Visa pour l’Image for 20 years now. It’s not only about culture – it’s also about championing a cause. Jean-François Leroy said that ‘photojournalism is a struggle’ and it’s a honour to be part of that struggle.”

Massimo Berruti gave up studying biology when, after taking photography lessons, he decided to become a freelance photographer in 2004. Much of his photography from Pakistan covers the period after General Musharraf fired the head of the country’s justice system and the uprising by lawyers against this that eventually led to his reinstatement. Berruti admitted: “On a personal level I wanted to see how I would react in a dangerous situation.”

© Massimo Berruti/Agence VU/represented in Italy by Grazia Neri. City of Perpignan Young Reporter’s Award 2009

Pakistan, Islamabad, February 2008. Supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League.

He added: “The Pakistan people have a lot of merit – we see the lawyers and students fighting side-by-side, those from different backgrounds and who speak different languages. I think they have achieved a great deal.” Berruti also noted: “For people in Pakistan the suffering is worse due to the terrorist attacks as people don't understand why they are killed.”

As to why all of the work was in black and white Berruti admitted: “The choice I made was one I made before I went. I had become too focused on the aesthetics of colour – black and white lets me focus on what I want rather than the aesthetics.”

Photographers wanted

Each year during the first week of September the streets, bars and festival venues are thronged with photographers looking for an assignment, agent or just a new direction for their work. So it’s refreshing to hear news of one company that’s actively looking for photographers. BD, a medical technology company that was a sponsor of James Nachtwey’s XDR-TB project (www.xdrtb.org) is looking for photographers “to help them tell other stories.” To find out more go to www.bd.com/photography and scroll down to ‘Photographers Wanted’ and click the link.

Picture of the day

Throughout the week CPN is asking photographers or industry figures to choose an image from the festival. Today’s image, by David Burnett, was chosen by Maryanne Golon, the former director of photography at Time magazine, who now works as a photography consultant.

“There are more famous pictures from David’s set from his 44 days in Iran in 30 years ago, such as the close-up of the Ayatollah Khomeini that ended up on the cover of Time, and ones of the Shah in his last days…but this one has all the classics of reportage. It has motion, but there are crystal clear people in the middle and you feel the energy and fear of the army opening fire on the pro-Khomeini supporters. It’s so eerie to be looking at this picture from January 1979 and be in September 2009, with similar uprisings happening in Iran, and being unable to have this kind of reportage from people the calibre of David Burnett because they have blocked all visas and entries to the country. The clothes aside, it doesn’t feel like 30 years ago. It could be last week.”

© David Burnett/Contact Press Images

Pro-Khomeini demonstrators at 24 Esfand Square on the run after the army opens fire. Tehran, January 28, 1979



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Blog 4 – Awards winners and sad news

For the second year in a row festival-goers awoke to the sad news that a photographer with close ties to Visa pour l’Image had died, this time suddenly and violently.

© Patricia Campos

Christian Poveda

Christian Poveda was assassinated in a country that he loved so much, El Salvador. He had spent years reporting on the gangs there. The news came almost exactly a year after the death of French photojournalist Françoise Demulder a selection of whose work is being shown here this week.

Details of the circumstances of Poveda’s death started to circulate this morning. His body was found on a road to the north of the capital, San Salvador. He had been shot dead while on his way home after a day's work taking photos in a district controlled by the gangs.

Christian Gregorio Poveda Ruiz, his full name, was French, of Spanish descent. He was 54 years old and had covered many wars and conflicts before concentrating on violence in El Salvador. One of his last documentaries, "’La Vida Loca’ will be released in France on 30 September.

Three awards

At the evening screening at Campo Santo on 2 September the first award to be announced at this year’s Visa pour l’Image festival was the inaugural ‘FRANCE 24-RFI Award’ for web documentaries. Festival director Jean-François Leroy said: “It is my pleasure to grant this award for the very first time. This award will be followed by many others, but the web documentary is a format that is still in its teething phase.”

Out of over 100 entries the jury drew up a shortlist of nine multimedia presentations. It was then decided the first prize should go to the team at www.lemonde.fr for the documentary ‘The Body Imprisoned’ (‘Le Corps Incarcéré). The Le Monde team – Soren Seelow, Leo Ridet, Bernard Monasterolo and Karim El Hadj – produced a multimedia piece that tells the everyday life of four prisoners and the impact that life in prison has had upon their bodies.

Head of the jury for the FRANCE24-RFI Award, photographer Samuel Bollendorff commented: “Our goal was to reward the piece that best illustrated the new ways to tell a news story on the web.”

© Dan Kendall

Samuel Bollendorff (left) and Visa pour l’Image director Jean-François Leroy (second left) present the inaugural FRANCE24-RFI Web Documentary Award to the multimedia team from Le Monde.

Also revealed at yesterday’s evening screening was the second winner of the annual Pierre & Alexandra Boulat Award. This year the €8,000 prize grant from Canon Europe went to US photographer Margaret Crow for her project ‘Love Me’ that documents the life of a teenage girl growing up in rural Ohio, USA. The Boulat Award comes just two months after Crow won the 2009 Ian Parry Scholarship with the same body of work.

CPN spoke to award creator Annie Boulat (founder of the Cosmos photo agency) who revealed: “It was difficult to choose because all of the shortlist was so good. The winner was a young woman who can now continue her project and that’s the whole purpose of this award.”

Earlier today at the Palais des Congrès the recipient of the 2009 CARE Award for Humanitarian Reportage, Luca Catalano Gonzaga, explained how he gave up a lucrative career in television and marketing two years ago, at the age of 42, to travel the world and document the plight of children. His award-winning project told the story of young Nepalese children who work in brick yards for up to 11 hours a day for daily pay equivalent to just €1.

© Luca Catalano Gonzaga / Winner of the 2009 CARE International Award for Humanitarian Reportage

Bhaktapur, Nepal – April 2008, 7am. Yadhu, 4, making bricks.

“I’m a father myself so I want to continue to denounce child labour,” revealed Gonzaga. “I found no obstacles to taking pictures as the owners of the yards and the families thought it was perfectly normal for children to work. I chose Nepal because 25% of children are working – that’s 2.6 million children and 600,000 of those work in the brick yards.”

The children start work from the age of three and Gonzaga explained: “The greatest problem is the teenagers have a lot of lung problems – they carry these bricks on their heads and there is a lot of dust on them, so it is detrimental to their health.”

Gonzaga plans to go back to Nepal in a few years to see if the situation has improved but in the meantime is soon due to go to Bangladesh and Myanmar to cover his next project on blindness in children.

Meeting the stars of ‘Big Cat Diary’

CPN caught up with two of Canon’s newest Ambassadors today – the husband and wife wildlife photography team of Jonathan and Angie Scott who are based in Nairobi, Kenya. The couple, who have both individually won the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, have just co-authored the book ‘Stars of Big Cat Diary’ which will be published on 30 September by Evans Mitchell Books.

© Dan Kendall

The CPN editorial team interviews Canon Ambassadors Jonathan and Angie Scott.

The book is an accompaniment to the popular BBC wildlife programme Big Cat Diary. Jonathan has been the main presenter on the programme since 1996 while Angie is the animal spotter and stills photographer for the long-running project.

Jonathan Scott explained: “The series has been running for over 12 years and we have previously brought out books on specific animals. This one is a chronology of the whole series and is great because, in many ways, it allows us to tell a much more intimate story than we could on TV.” The tome tells the behind-the-scenes story of the series and how the lives of the lions, leopards and cheetahs have been documented in detail.

Picture of the day

Throughout the week CPN is asking photographers or industry figures to choose an image from the week. Today’s image by Sarah Caron has been selected by JP Pappis the president of her agency, Polaris. A selection of her work, entitled Talibanistan, is being shown at the festival.

“This one is not actually in the exhibition, but it’s from the same body of work,” says Pappis. “It shows us the sadness and incomprehension it this little girl’s eyes. She is only 12 years old and yet being presented as a bride. She looks puzzled because she’s pleased to be wearing make-up and yet not quite understanding what’s awaiting her – a practice that brings a kind of malaise to all, but no one seems to dispute it or challenge it. Sarah has really captured that moment of malaise.

© Sarah Caron / Polaris.

April 12, 2009, Hinjarwal, Pakistan: In Pakistan, child brides, although forbidden, are a common occurrence. Nasrin, 12 years old, and Shahir, 26 years old, are getting married in one of Lahore's suburbs. Neither of them had their say regarding the wedding. As it was unacceptable for a man of his age to be unmarried, Shahir's mother decided to find him a bride. Because Nasrin's father died two years before, her mother accepted the offer to wed her to Shahid for a few thousands rupees. The two families, knowing that the wedding is illegal, try to keep the celebration discreet. The ‘Mandi’ ceremony consists of adorning the bride with henna for her wedding. Nasrin's family and friends display candles and henna.



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Blog 3 – Zalmaï’s Afghanistan

There can be very few photographers who have such a unique perspective on Afghanistan and its ongoing struggle for stability as Zalmaï. Born in the capital Kabul he left with his brother, both still teenagers, when the Soviet Union invaded at the beginning of the 1980s. He lived in exile in Switzerland and while working for a magazine in 1996 he returned to cover what at the time was an ever-worsening situation as the Taliban began to take power.

Today there are around 40 countries with a military presence in the country and many journalists are ‘embedded’ with the NATO forces covering the fighting with a resurgent Taliban. But Zalmaï’s images in his timely exhibition, ‘Promises and Lies’, reveal a very different story, one of ordinary Afghans struggling to survive in the face 30 years of war.

© Zalmaï

Suburb of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Spring 2008.

“After the Russian’s left in 1989 the country was abandoned by the international community and there are hundreds of thousands of displaced people,” he told an audience at the Palais des Congrès today. “In 2001, when the Americans arrived they promised to help Afghans to rebuild their country…there was a feeling of hope then, but now it has gone.”

Since 2002 around 4 million Afghans have returned home from exile, but many have found it tougher than living in the refugee camps and have ended up on the outskirts of the big cities struggling to survive. A worsening military situation in the south, and years of famine and draught, have only made things worse, and trust in the government and the foreign forces has all but evaporated, he says.

“There are the military forces and 900 NGOs in Kabul trying to save the country, but they don’t take the history of Afghanistan into account.” Zalmaï says that no solution could ever by found if we do not look at the whole picture.

Picture of the day

Throughout the week CPN is asking photographers or industry figures to choose an image from the 25 exhibitions. Today’s image by Pascal Maitre has been selected by Jennifer Pajon, director of sales at World Assignment, a new organisation that pulls together portfolios for agencies, collectives and other clients to help them find the assignment photographer they need. She admits an interest in Maitre’s work as she used to work at his agency, Cosmos.

“His work on Somalia [‘Somalia – abandoned by all’] is an in-depth story and he went several times since 2002, and I love his way of capturing colour,” says Pajon. “It’s a very difficult and dangerous story to cover and very few have done this. You can image what Somalia was like when you see this picture. Mogadishu used to be such a beautiful city. Pascal said that when he left the country earlier this year he knew it would be a long time before he could go back because it had become too difficult and that that had made him ‘unspeakably sad’, almost as if he too, like the rest of the world, was abandoning Somalia.”

© Pascal Maitre / Cosmos for Geo

Shagani district where the Green Line runs through Mogadishu, dividing the city in half, has been totally destroyed and is now under the control of the warlord Muuse Suudi. No one lives here now, except for snipers.



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Blog 2 – Canon Ambassadors and the launch of the EOS 7D

At the Canon Space in the Palais des Congrès early this morning eight of the Canon Ambassadors gathered and had an early chance to get their hands on the new Canon EOS 7D camera launched at Visa pour l’Image and at many other venues around the world.

For those not in the know the Ambassadors Programme was launched by Canon Europe in June 2008. The Ambassadors lend their skills and experience at major photography shows, in seminars and workshops, as well as being involved in feedback for product development.

The Ambassadors who jetted in to Perpignan for this year’s Visa pour l’Image festival are Frits van Eldik, Jeff Ascough, Ziv Koren (Polaris Images), Michael Nichols (National Geographic), Brutus Östling, Thorsten Milse and Jonathan and Angela Scott.

© Dan Kendall

Canon Ambassador Thorsten Milse finds out more about the EOS 7D.

The Ambassadors present all got the chance to discover some of the capabilities of the new 18 Megapixel EOS 7D SLR that offers a raft of new features including:

  • A new dual layer, 63-zone iFCL metering system that helps to deliver superbly accurate exposures.
  • An Integrated Speedlite Transmitter so you can use the EOS 7D as a master flash in a multi-flash set-up.
  • Dual DIGIC 4 processors which help to deliver high-speed accurate image processing of 8fps shooting at 18 Megapixel resolution.
  • EOS Movie gives Full HD movies with full manual control of exposure and user selectable frame rates.
  • A new, 19-point cross-type AF system and Zone AF, plus the first non-EOS-1 series camera to include a dedicated AF processing unit.
  • The EOS 7D is the first EOS SLR to feature a Dual Axis Electronic Level that indicates both pitch and roll angles in either the LCD panel or in the viewfinder.

CPN grabbed the chance to find out the initial thoughts about the EOS 7D from some of the Ambassadors. Motorsport photographer Frits van Eldik said: “It’s fantastic for a top-end amateur camera. I would definitely use it as a second body alongside my EOS 5D Mark II. This year I’ve been shooting around 90% of my pictures on the 5D Mark II and this camera also seems to be a great addition.”

Top wedding photographer Jeff Ascough was clearly impressed: “The camera has a lot of potential. It’s really good – it’s given you some of the functionality of the EOS-1 series but in a smaller camera. The AF seems very responsive and it will be interesting to get it and shoot a wedding.”

Although he is a wildlife photographer Brutus Östling spotted a couple of features for landscapes and portraits. Talking about the Dual Axis Electronic Level Brutus explained: “I think that will be a really great feature for landscape photographers and I also like the Auto Lighting Optimizer.” That’s the feature that evens out contrast in scenes and is great for shots such as balancing backgrounds when using the camera’s built-in flash for portraits.

Jonathan Scott was taken by the brightness and clarity of the camera’s LCD screen and noted: “I love the screen – it’s very bright and, from what I can see, the images look great on it.”

You can read, watch and discover more about the groundbreaking EOS 7D by clicking here.

© Dan Kendall

Eight Canon Ambassadors. Left to right: Brutus Östling, Thorsten Milse, Frits van Eldik, Angela Scott, Jonathan Scott, Jeff Ascough, Michael Nichols and Ziv Koren.

Studio time

As part of their time spent in the Canon Space this morning the Canon Ambassadors also lined up for a lively portrait session with French photographer Rémy Cortin who was shooting wirelessly in the Canon Professional Photo Studio.

Each Ambassador had an individual portrait shot with them holding the EOS 7D and then a series of group shots saw some of the Ambassadors meeting each other for the first time whilst others renewed old friendships.

Visitors to the Canon Space this week will be able to see the Ambassador portraits displayed after they’ve been printed from the PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II and PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II Canon printers.

Picture of the day

Throughout the week CPN asks photographers or industry figures to choose a favourite image from the 25 exhibitions. Martin Mazurkiewicz a French TV journalist and photographer comes to Visa every year to get some new ideas for his work, which at the moment is focused on creating web documentaries.

He says that usually he comes to Visa to learn about issues that are not so well known. “So when I went to Callie Shell’s Barack Obama exhibition I wasn’t expecting to be astonished because, of course, we talk about Obama every day,” says Mazurkiewicz. “I was surprised by the intimacy she created between herself and the president. He must be the most protected person in the world and yet he let her into private situations…I like this image because it’s a banal and everyday gesture, and I like that that the President of America would wipe the table down while he eats an ice cream.”

© 2008 Callie Shell / Aurora Photos / Cosmos for Time Magazine.

US Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama makes an unscheduled stop at the Dairy Bar in Wapello, IA.



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Blog 1 – Visa pour l’Image kicks off

As the evening drew in after a beautiful late summer day in Perpignan the 21st Visa pour l’Image festival kicked into life last night with the traditional launch party at Hotel Pams.

Photojournalists – famous and up-and-coming – writers, agents and leading industry figures have flown in from around the world to see, debate and renew old friendships. In these tough economic times there’s an even stronger feeling than usual this year of the importance of, and need for, powerful reportage and documentary photography. Festival director Jean-François Leroy told CPN that the 25 exhibitions being staged here over these next two weeks are proof that serious photojournalism is far from being dead.

“You will see this through (the work of) Eugene Richards, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Pascal Maitre, Massimo Berruti…all the photographers we are showing are exceptional,” says Leroy.

© Dan Kendall

Ulla Lohmann presents her work, Ash City, at a press conference today.

Along with showing the work of some of the world’s more renowned photographers, the festival is also a place for up-and-coming photographers from around the world. Freelance Norwegian photojournalist Matias Nordahl Carlsen is in Perpignan for the second year in a row with his friend Andreas Harvik, who works at the National Museum of Modern Art in Oslo. Carlsen explained: “I came back for inspiration, to look at the work of other photographers. I’m particularly looking forward to my friend Ulla Lohmann’s exhibition, but I will try to look at everything. We will be back next year as well as this (coming to Visa pour l’Image) is becoming a tradition.”

At a presentation in the Palais des Congrès today freelancer Ulla Lohmann explained her exhibit ‘Ash City, Fifteen Years of Ash: a Story of Survival, Hope and Persistence’ which is being shown at Couvent des Minimes. It tells the story of the impact of a volcano on Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. Lohmann said: “I started the project in 2001, taking slides with an old camera. In 1994 there were 30,000 people living there, now there are 10,000. It’s a real tragedy to see what’s happened as it was a real paradise. There are children who have never known anything else – they were born with ashes on the ground.” Despite the destruction brought about by eruptions the exhibition shows the hope, resilience and persistence of the residents many of whom refuse to leave despite being granted new land by the Papuan government.

Picture of the day

Throughout the week CPN will be asking leading photographers or industry figures to chose a favourite image from the 25 exhibitions. The first one is chosen by Jean-François Leroy, director of Visa pour l’Image. It’s a picture by Eugene Richards from his exhibition, ‘War is Personal’. It shows a US soldier, Dusty Hill, who was injured in Iraq, playing with his daughter.

© Eugene Richards/Reportage by Getty Images.

Dusty Hill / Mineral, Illinois:
“I was the one who said I never wanted to have kids. You know, since leaving for Iraq, my life has changed so much. It’s ... I don’t know what did it, but coming home put my life into perspective. It’s sad to see guys who went over, fought for their country, and couldn’t leave the war there. I don’t have time for that.

Now, because of my injuries, I don’t have to get up in the morning, don’t have to leave home, don’t have to go to work every day. So for me now, that’s a great benefit. How many people can have a five-month-old daughter and stay home and play with her non-stop?”

Jean-François Leroy says:
“I love all the pictures in the exhibitions, but this is one of my favourites. It is full of hope. It reminded me of one taken by Tom Stoddart in Sarajevo in 1995 of a girl with her doll running to kiss her mother, and when you look at the mother she has no legs. Eugene’s is powerful like that.”

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