A warm Spanish welcome at the BCN airport, and then a road trip with David Alan Harvey.
We made a lot of pit stops along the way for caffeine and massage chairs.
Things got a little silly and we ended up spending almost as much time negotiating the narrow, wending streets of Perpignan trying to find the apartment that I was crashing at, as we did getting there. This is Luis Montolio and his Beamer on Rue Nueve.
Upon arrival in Perpignan for Professional Week of the Visa Pour L'Image Festival International du Photojournalisme, one heads directly to the Hotel Pams to pick up their credentials, schedules, goodie bags and to get their bearings. And right away, one gets sucked into another reality entirely.
Other than a quick stroll through Place Rigaud, the remainder of Wednesday was characterized by sleep.
Each evening during the first week of September, there are a series of projections. The program begins with a chronological review of news stories from the previous year, two months per evening. This is followed by reports and features on social issues, war stories, and issues that have both been covered by the media and those that haven't, as well as a range of observations on the state of the world today. Major retrospectives on events and historical figures are also shown, as a series of "Visa Por L'Image' awards. On left, the overflow screening location, Place de la République is pictured, which is open to the general public was still being tested on Wednesday night.
Some images from my favorite piece of the evening, an exploration of the events that took place in 1968, that continue to greatly shape the world in which we live forty years later.
Accredited professionals pile out of the main projection area in Campo Santo, which is said to hold about 3000 people, after the evening's projection. On the right is American photographer, Lauren Hermele, who is based in BCN and the Director of SLIDELUCK POTSHOW Barcelona.
Perhaps the single greatest thing about Perpignan is Le Grand Café de la Poste. Affectionately known as "La Poste," it is the unofficial headquarters of the festival and the gathering pointing of hundreds of drunken, jolly photographers, photo editors, agency representatives, etc, who carry on into the wee hours each night.
The first exhibitions I went to visit, including Göksin Sipahioglu, David Douglas Duncan and Pierre Gonnord, were in the lovely Eglise des Domincains.
David Douglas Duncan speaks to a French television station about his exhibition, "This is War!" and his experiences covering numerous conflicts throughout the 20th century, while simultaneously making commentary on the cowardice of our present leadership.
The Couvent Des Minimes on Rue François Rabelais houses most of the exhibitions in Visa as well as a bookshop and the legendary closing party on Saturday night. Some of the work shown here this year are the World Press Photos of the Year, Nina Berman, a 20-year retrospective of AFP, Philip Blenkinsop, Alexandra Boulat, Enrico Dagnino, Marie Dorigny, Horst Faas, Cédric Gerbehaye, Yuri Kozyrev, Pascal Maitre, Michael "Nick" Nichols, Christian Poveda, Noël Quidu, Patrick Robert, and Kadir Von Lohuizen. The print quality generally sucked, but some of the exhibits were quite good.
I was fortunate enough to attend the National Geographic party on Thursday evening on Rue Baristoll, beside the Cathédrale Saint Jean. David Griffin, Director of Photography for National Geographic, gives a toast in honor of Jean-François Leroy, Founder of the Visa Por L'Image Festival, for his twenty years of commitment to "professionalism."
The cameras came out pretty quickly as Jean-François was offered a huge "birthday" cake-- which actually turned out to be very tasty.
Andrew Owen, Operations Manager for the Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, VA, holds still while Gina Martin of Look3 and the National Geographic Image Collection writes down the details for our meeting the following day. On the right, Harvey talks to Nick Nichols, another long-time Geographic shooter and the founder of Look3.
Once I got a taste of watching the slideshow from the Place de la République, with comfortable seating and waiters bringing out pints of beer and food, it became difficult to get myself to squeeze back into the Campo Santo. Directly following the slideshow was an AP Party, at which I met a lot of interesting characters, that will be appearing later in the week, as well as a requisite nightcap at La Poste.
I was greeted on Friday morning by the friendly face of Jason P.Howe, who had gotten his ass kicked just a few hours before. Six years in Colombia, two years in Baghdad, thirteen months in Afghanistan, and numerous assignments in sketchy, unstable situations-- without a scratch. So here we are in Perpignan, to talk about conflict, and Jason is jumped by five guys on his way home after the slideshow. Two attacked him from behind, two from the front, one from the side, and before long, they were all kicking him in the face. Most of the perpetrators were caught by the police in the subsequent days.
My agency, World Picture Network, had a leisurely lunch for its featured photographers, partners and clients on the balcony of L'Arago in Place Arago. On the right, Margot Klingsporn from WPN's German partner, Focus, speaks with with Kirsty Evans, who runs WPN's London office.
WPN photographers Danfung Dennis, Jason P. Howe, and Greg Funnell.
On left, Alexandre Dupeyron looks through Greg Funnell's portfolio. On right is Junko Ogawa, Director of Magnum Photos in Tokyo.
Are all NOOR photographers just the most bad-ass rockstars on the block, or is it me? I heard there was a great panel discusssion about the perception of "conflict photographers as rockstars," in which Stanley Greene and others attempted to dispell this myth, but when I see Kadir Von Lohuizen and Philip Blenkinsop walking towards the Palais des Congres, I can't help but think otherwise.
Lance Rosenfield, of Austin, TX, discusses his project, "Thirst for Grit," at David Alan Harvey's Emerging Photographer's meeting outside La Poste. On right are Gina Martin, Andrew Owen, and Jessica Nagle, all of the LOOK 3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, VA. We had a meeting in order to brainstorm ways in which LOOK and Slideluck Potshow could collaborate as we see one another's organizations as kindred spirits.
Evan Nisselson, Chairman and Founder of Digital Railroad, and a great friend and early supporter of Slideluck Potshow, at the Getty/AFP party on the roof of the Palais des Congres.
Whitney Johnson, of The New Yorker and Seattle fame and on the right, the scene at the swanky Getty/AFP party.
Photographers Mads Nissen and Johan Spanner, who works for The New York Times in Iraq. On the right is James Pomerantz a friend and fellow New York-based photographer.
On the right is Miki Johnson, a writer for American Photo and PopPhoto.com, who turned out to be a great wing-woman for much of the week.
A view of Le Castillet Porte Notre-Dame from the Place de la Victorie on my way to the evening's projection.
A nighttime scene on Rue des Augustins and on the right, public bicycles in the Place de la République.
Place de la République filled up for Friday evening's projection. On the right, Brent Stirton accepts the Visa d'Or Feature Award on Virunga National Park, Eastern Democrative Republic of Congo for Reportage by Getty Images, Newsweek, and National Geographic Magazine.
There was yet more violence on Friday night, as an altercation broke out between some locals and the police during the slideshow just off Place de la République.
My old friend, Michael Barkin's Leica. I clearly remember when he sold off all his Canon gear right after his internship with The Seattle Times almost ten years ago. Mike was involved in the early days of Slideluck in Seattle.
Old Friends. On the left we have Hossein Farmani, the Founder of the Lucie Awards, the Focus on AIDS Foundation, the International Photo Awards, the Paris Photo Prize, the Farmani Gallery, and many other ventures. Beside him is Evan Nisselson, who, among many other things, founded Digital Railroad. On the right is Per Folkver, Picture Editor of the amazing and internationally-acclaimed Danish Daily newspaper, Politiken. Next to him is Henrik Saxgren, who is generally known as "The Father of Modern Danish Photojournalism."
On the left is Jon Lowenstein, Chicago-based photographer and most recent inductee into the agency, NOOR. On the right, is Aidan Sullivan, who heads up Getty's photo assignment division, Reportage-by-Getty. To the right is Stephanie Heimann, Picture Editor for Fortune Small Business Magazine and one of the Co-Founders of Fovea Exhibitions, a non-profit arts organization based in Beacon, NY, dedicated to advancing social issues and the importance of the role of photojournalism.
Some views from the fifth-floor apartment I was staying at on Place Rigaud.
There was a farmer's market at Place de la République on Saturday morning and I stopped to check it out. These are what they call oignons in France. Do they not just put our pathetic "onions" to shame?
Someday I want to live in Europe on a little street and drive a little car.
My agency was invited to a delicious brunch hosted by Focus Agentur beside the Cathédrale Saint Jean on Saturday morning, which consisted of pastries, orange juice, and scores of photo editors from the German-speaking world. On the right, photographer Klavs Bo Christensen discusses his work with fellow WPN photographer, Danfung Dennis.
On the left, Kristy Evans, who runs WPN's London office and Todd Cross, WPN's Managing Editor Assignments speak with Tina Ahrens, Photo Editor at the German publication, GEO. Tina turned out to be my travel buddy all the way from Barcelona, through Paris, and back to JFK. Trust me, if you ever want to be treated well, roll with a woman who is 6-months pregnant. On the right, I recognized Andreas Eucker, Photo Editor at the German magazine Stern, as one of my own because he couldn't stop taking pictures either.
Some locals on their way to dinner.
Right around dusk on Saturday night, we started to see some rain, which didn't bode well for the evening's program. On the left is my favorite statue in town, right off of Rue de la Loge. On the right, is a reflection of the bar in a photograph on the wall of the restaurant Othelo on Rue du Theatre.
After a fair bit of rain, it was uncertain whether the slideshow would take place. The party for the general public was still to be held in the Place de la République.
The atmosphere in Place de la République was tense as Visa guests and locals alike waited to see whether the show would go on. After a great deal of confusion, the final evening's projections were canceled completely. What most people found difficult was that by 10pm, the rain had already stopped.
The scene outside the gate of the Couvent des Minimes was one of confusion, mistrust, and outrage. The storied, legendary Saturday night party was canceled and it was unclear why. It made sense that the projection would be affected by precipitation, but shouldn't the party be all the more of an imperative in this case? And what would happen with all of the cases of wine and kegs of beer anyway?
So once again, it was back to La Poste for frothy revelry. On the right, Egyptian/French photographer, Myriam Abdelaziz peeks out from behind a pint of beer.
Late-night Tom-Foolery. On the left, Kadir von Lohuizen and friends. On the right, David Griffin, Director of Photography for National Geographic, stands on a booth to get a shot of exploration photographer George Steinmetz, bringing out handful of beers.
Do the Spaniards know something that we don't know?
Chatting with a Czech photographer Hana Jakrlova on the left. On the right, Canadians: every one. Just who are these neighbors to the North? Moscow-based photojournalist, Donald Weber, Toronto-based photographer Jim Ross, and Globe and Mail staff photographer, Charla Jones.
Jessica Dimmock, photojournalist in the VII Network chats with other photographers. On the right is Danish photographer, Thomas Lekfeldt, whom I met many years ago while traveling in India, when we were both just starting out.
I think the word "Fatale" had worn off. Photo Editor of the German women's magazine, Laura, Claudia Niebuhr, outside of the ladies room at La Poste and ascending the stairs to an after party on Place Rigaud.
With no final party to wrap things up, I think everyone was feeling just a little batty.
This after party was held in an "Visa Off" exhibition called Occupations. And once again, people found themselves discussing photography and issues late into the night.
Maria Sumalla, from Magnum Paris at Le Hôtel Pams and the gallery outside of the Couvent Sainte Claire. There, I had the pleasure of visiting perhaps the three finest exhibitions I saw the entire week; those of Paolo Pellegrin, Paula Bronstein, and Munem Wasif.
I spent way to long trying to find a picture here. Perhaps I found one? I'm still undecided.
I decided to head to the beach a few hours early, in the late afternoon, with a group of people. Here, French photographer, Julien Chatelin, at the beach in Canet. The weather turned cloudy and cold almost immediately. The shitty house music that rendered conversation nearly useless continued on for the next few hours, though. My first reaction upon arriving at the beach club where the dinner was to be held, was "are we in fucking Miami or something? Or is this Corfu?"
On the left, Claire Baudéan, announcer during the evening presentations, and her friend, who had just received a bouquet for her birthday. I'm really hoping that the picture long-time Magnum member Paul Fusco is taking on the right turns out to be one of his most famous. Maybe it'll lead to a book deal for me.
Benedicte Kurzen, a French photojournalist based in Johannesburg, Jean-Pierre Laffont, the legendary photographer and Founder of Sygma and Gamma USA, and Brooklyn-based photographer, John Trotter.
A couple views of Canet beach and the surrounding area.
David Alan Harvey, Kadir van Lohuizen, and friends hanging on the beach.
The food at this dinner was fantastic. I found out that I wasn't the only one to play the "Dumb American" so that I could get away with dipping the mini-croissants in the chocolate fondue. On the right we see that for many at Visa, one must be committed to both networking and drinking-- but neither to the exclusion of the other.
This is perhaps what I like best about Perpignan: here we are, late on Sunday night, after a long week of photographic commitments, and these guys are still willing to sit down and look at the work of young, emerging photographers, to give feedback, criticism and guidance. On the left, we have Harvey looking at Hana Jarkrlova's work, and on the right, we have Paul Fusco, Seamus Murphy, and others reviewing work.
The dancing begins. We have Yuri Kozyrev on the left and Matthieu Nicol from Parisian 2e Press Bureau cutting it up on the right.
Perpignan Fashion Week. Scarves seemed to have declined somewhat in popularity among the global photo-j community-- or at least peaked-- but prison stripes were all the rage this year.
On the right, we have, among others, photographer Gerd Ludwig, and former National Geographic Director of Photography, Kent Kobersteen. On the left is, someone from the 2e Press Bureau in Paris and French television and slideshow announcer, Lucas Menget.
A midnight swim with members of the 2e Press Bureau. On the right is Matthieu Nicol again.
The inimitable Gigi Gianuzzi from Trolley Books, and Yuri Kozyrev spinning a Christ-like Philip Blenkinsop around and around to the Depeche Mode classic "Personal Jesus."
The guestbook at the Hotel de France. Greene, Grarup, Byer, Bronstein, Thode, Tournaille, Fusco, Blenkinsop, Frei, Loparelli, Munem, Dagnino, Dorigny, on and on. . . The contributions to the field of photojournalism in this hotel alone are pretty staggering.
Some late night debauchery in the lobby of the Hotel de France with Céderic Kerviche, who does the festival's iconography and Paris Match's Alain Tournaille.
4:30 am, Monday morning: one last look at La Poste. The party is over and it is time to go home.
We were lucky enough to catch another ride back to Barcelona with Jon Lowenstein, who was on his way to an early flight. It was another really fun road trip-- filled, once again, with caffeine and massage chairs.