It has been pointed out to me that I have’nt scribbled down much about attending Visa Pour L’image in Perpignan yet. My first excuse being fatigue, then just figuring out what the heck happened to my brain. Seeing as how my brain is staying in its “pleasantly confused and optimistic” state for the forseeable, I had better live with it and start hammering keys.
Visa is a photojournalism festival, out and out. There are some portraits, some wildlife work but most of the exhibitions and talks are on people in hard times, strange times, religion, refugees, sex workers and war. Paula Bronstien’s slice of life from Afghanistan was the exhibition that worked best for me, presented in a slightly run-down old convent it showed a complex and intimate glimpse into life in a country still trying to find its feet.
The exhibitions are something to do, but during professional week, they’re not the main reason you are there! The festival becomes a hub for photojournalists, agencies, buyers, exhibitors and contacts. Many of the photographers arriving with “something to sell” were working contacts so hard they barely had time to see the exhbitions. Photographers could get a portfolio review, or submit one to an agency (Reuters, AP, Getty… many many others) and be interviewed there. A lot of business is done during professional week and I hope to go back next year with a solid portfolio ready to review. I did’nt make a strong story last year so I did’nt get any formal reviewing done but I did bring a selection of images from my portfolio and the first two shoots of “trails”. Audrey Bardou, Pierre Yves, Aga Luckowzska, Anton, Ana Yturralde (and husband) and others from David Alan Harvey’s blog went through my images and presented their thoughts. These thoughts were invaluable. Considered feedback from a variety of minds working hard at photography is like gold dust and it helped me clarify where I was going with my photography and what I should do next. I’m still hemming and hawwing about “trails” as a long term project, I’ll see what comes along.
Meeting the DAH bloggers was very interesting, a large number of very interesting people with crazy stories, shared experiences and up for opening up about photography. It was quite something to think, eat, drink, breathe and discus discus discus photography with these people for four days. We saw Lance Rosenfield’s “Thirst for Grit” story reviewed and heard DAH’s feedback to him.
I talked breifly to Brent Stirton who promptly dispatched me to a showing of David Gillander’s award winning work on knife crime in Glasgow saying “This is in your back yard!”. So for now, I’m going to stop writing, take a deep breath and return to this later with fresh eyes and see what and who I missed. I should say thankyou to James Robertson, photo editor of Student last year who kept reminding me to book stuff to get there, provided company and the porch of a tent to sleep in.