Words and books. The Many Facets of Photojournalism – Books
It is interesting to note that although we are bombarded, on a daily basis, with animated images and other more or less poor and sloppy videos, press photography retains all its strength and relevance. Probably because he is the only one who can fix the whole truth, face or situation.
Furthermore, the value of immediacy takes on another dimension when we see it later, when what it shows tends to fade from our memories. This press photo that, in one shot, tells us so many stories, often tells us more than many texts.
Two good books, well deserving of this qualification, are offered to us to measure this double temporal dimension. The first, resulting from diving into the enormous photographic archive of the AFP (Agence France Presse), is a true epic of over 120 years of photojournalism history, an exemplary witness to history with a capital H. L Emphasis is placed on shots as they were taken in the past, on film and in black and white. Note, in passing, that this choice provides a strong argument to those who think that this black and white is not the absence of colors, but part of a particular aesthetic.
What is also notable, in coming out of this book, is that photojournalism has no reserved domain or forbidden domain. This is how he perfectly adapts to the characteristics of his subjects. Various facts and pictures of stars, pictures of wars or snapshots of daily life, political or sporting events, etc., can be found on these pages, over the age, captured by photographers of the great French press agency. And they immediately trigger our memories, even distant, even vague.
Editors are also well inspired by choosing a matte paper that highlights the grain of the images. And by offering us these self-sufficient shots, either full page or on a plain white background. Therefore, if we understand the presence, moreover occasionally, of transmissions as elements of context, we are better prepared for short texts, which are entrusted to more or less well-known authors and whose relevance is not obvious. .
However, this book in the way it tells us about the worlds of yesterday, is a quality gift. A gift that you will also be inspired to give yourself, so much curiosity and pleasure that you will have to go through it for a long time.
Tribute to “correspondents of Humanity”
In the work dedicated to “correspondents of Humanity”, it is still about photojournalism, but in a different way. In fact, the daily communist, since the post-war period, constituted a particularly dense network of correspondents, everywhere in France, as it reached 5,000 members in 1959. Voluntary correspondents, more in all, but not exclusively, is present in the Paris region, whose main mission is to follow and witness the “struggles”. A network that has done much to allow the newspaper to maintain real proximity to its readers and those it aims to defend. Naturally, this network was gradually increased by correspondent photographers. Most of them obviously had other professional activities and many of them benefited from the training provided by the daily newspaper.
This is what this book explains to us, giving an important place to the testimonies of some of these correspondents, but certainly not forgetting to show, in addition to some facsimiles of Humanity, the clichés made by the militants this image, which is preserved. according to the dominant themes corresponding to different periods.
In this regard, this book shows that it is implausible to offer journalism worthy of the name, while relating to a clearly presented political conflict. And we will wonder, in passing, to the point of knowing whether there can exist, a contrario, a press that is not, one way or another, of opinion.
In the same vein, this original document, emphasizes, in the hollow, what this devoted newspaper carries, carrying the colors of the communist party with which it is closely associated, from the end of the war to the decade 80. past which condemns him, now , in a logic of salvation.
“AFP, a photo epic”. Co-published by AFP and Fisheye. 45 €
“Correspondents of Humanity. Photographic Views”. Under the direction of Laetitia Réal-Mpretto. Seuil editions. €39.