Cortona, Italy — the perfect place for a photography festival. Beautiful landscapes and delicious food. #COTM2014 (at Cortona)
Olivier Laurent is a Journalist and Acting Deputy Editor for British Journal of Photography. The opinions and views expressed on these pages are Olivier's and his only.
"Every photographer should be on Instagram. Editors are on there too and it’s something to take seriously."
- Kira Pollack, director of photography for Time Magazine, at the AI-AP Big Talk in Manhattan today. She appeared alongside Kathy Ryan, director of photography for the New York Times Magazine, and Reportage photographer Benjamin Lowy to talk about the professional use of mobile photography.
Day 2 of the AI-AP Big Talk is tomorrow. See the AI-AP Web site for more information.
Image © Guillaume Roujas.
Professional Week at Visa pour l’Image can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first time in Perpignan. So here’s a short guide to the city, the festival and everything else that happens in Perpignan from 02 to 09 September, when thousands of photojournalists will converge on the French city.
In the map below, you’ll find the location of all the exhibitions and official festival events, but also a few other useful addresses such as where to find free Wifi or a supermarket. This map will be updated in the coming days and weeks with details of some open-to-the-general-public parties and other events.
If you are an agency, a photographer or a third-party company and are holding an event you would like me to flag up on the map, let me know at olivierclaurent[at]gmail[dot]com.
How do I get from the airport to the city centre?
There are taxis at the airport, but they can be expensive if you’re alone. The best number to use to call one is: +33 4 68 35 15 15. But the city also runs a bus shuttle. It costs around €5 and will get you to the centre of town in around 20 minutes. Don’t miss it though, it won’t wait for you to finish your cigarette.
How do I get from the train station to the city centre?
You could grab a cab from the station to city centre, but with your luggage and other fees, you’ll end up paying a minimum of €15 for a five to 10 minute ride. Or you could just walk. The city centre is close to the station - 15 to 20 walking distance maximum.
I just arrived in Perpignan, what do I do now?
Go to Palais des Congrès to get your official accreditation. It will also be the opportunity to get information about talks and events, as well as a list of all the exhibitions and evening screenings. Accreditation costs €60.
What are these evening screenings that everyone’s talking about?
Each evening, from 9.45PM, the festival presents a series of photography screenings at Campo Santos (see map above). Each screening is made up of two parts – one part recounts what has happened around the world in the previous 12 months, while the second part is dedicated to individual projects and photographers. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the screenings can be watched from Place de la République, allowing you to have dinner at a reasonable pace while watching the show. However, this year, I would advice photographers to attend the Friday screening from Campo Santos (it’s the festival 25th anniversary, so there’s bound to be some surprises).
All I want to do is meet editors to show them my work. How do I do this?
There are two predominant spots where you can meet photo editors: on the second floor of the Palais des Congrès or on the 7th floor of that same building. The second floor is the official spot, where agencies will have stands as part of the festival’s media centre. This year, the following agencies have taken a stand:
Some of these agencies will have a schedule of available times for free portfolio reviews. But, be there early to secure a space – for example, in Getty Images’ case, if you don’t show up as soon as the doors of the Palais des Congrès open (Tuesday to Saturday at 10am), you will have missed your chance: within minutes, all of the day’s spots will have been booked.
Your second option – the unofficial one – is the 7th floor of the Palais des Congrès, where photo editors for publications as prestigious as TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times and many other worldwide titles from Geo to National Geographic will get a table and look at photographers’ work (there is no assigned position, they will grab a table when they find one).
Most often, these editors have already booked meetings with photographers they know and want to see – my advice: email the editors you want to meet ahead of Visa pour l’Image –, but they will also allow, sometimes, for a queue to form up to see the work of other photographers.
The best advice I can give you is to know who these editors are. With a bit of research on Google or even Facebook you should be able find out who is who. And it’s not because you have an opportunity to meet with the TIME’s photo editors that you should actually show them your work – know whether you are ready to meet that person, if your work corresponds to what they usually publish, and ask yourself if you will be wasting their time or not. Sometimes, photo editors will appreciate being told: “I don’t think my work is good enough right now, but could I get your business card for the future?”
Also, and this is important, if you’ve been waiting in line for a hour to meet a photo editor and he or she decides to leave before you had a chance to show them your work, do not track them down or start arguing with them (I’ve seen it happen so many times!). Most likely, that editor has a good reason to leave, but more importantly, the last thing you want to do is annoy a potential future client. In a lot of cases, that editor will be back at the Palais des Congrès the following day.
What is this Café de la Poste that everyone is talking about?
Café de la Poste has become one of the festival’s emblematic meeting points (see map above). In the beginning, this is where photojournalists on show at Visa would gather for a drink in the evenings. And year after year, they were be joined by other photographers, young and old, until the wee hours of the morning. Since the Café is open 23 hours a day during professional week, you can expect to find photographers there even at 5AM, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday when the Café will be overtaken by more than 1500 of them. Seriously!
If you end up staying at La Poste until closing time, grab a bottle of wine, wait one hour until it opens up again, and you can finish your night with coffee and croissants.
Who’s in Perpignan during Professional Week?
Visa pour l’Image has a great page on its site with the names of everyone that has checked-in at the Palais des Congrès to get their accreditation. Here it is: http://www.visapourlimage.com/professional/who_is_in_perpignan.do
What about the parties?
Agence France-Presse, Getty Images, National Geographic, Canon, Paris Match and many other organisations will be organising private parties during professional week. The keyword here is “private”. Unless you’ve been formerly invited or are someone’s +1, you will not be allowed in. But on Saturday, Visa pour l’Image organises the official closing party at the Couvent des Minimes from 11PM.
On the Sunday, there’s also the beach party, which takes place at Canet Plage (20-minute taxi ride from Perpignan). Entry costs €50 (dinner included) and you can expect to see the festival’s organisers and official staff, as well as some photo editors and photographers.
Image © Mazen Saggar
Talking about the beach, where is it?
The nearest beach is at Canet Plage. You can get bus number 6 from the Castillet or Palais des Congrès. Expect a bus every 25 minutes in both directions. Be careful, though, the last bus usually leaves Canet Plage at 9PM, so don’t fall asleep on the beach! On your way back, the bus will be packed. Just remember that unlike in the UK and in the US, in France people don’t queue, so you will have to push your way in an already-packed bus.
Are there other events worth checking out? (Contact me to add your event to this list)
Don’t make this one visit your last one.
If it’s your first year at Visa pour l’Image, be prepared. It can be intimidating. You will find yourself among thousands of photographers who are, just like you, trying to make it in a very competitive market. You might not know who to talk to, where to hang out, what to do. But don’t give up. Come back the following year, and the one after that. It’s great fun!
Any other tips?
Contact me at olivierclaurent[at]gmail[dot]com.
This feature was first published in British Journal of Photography in the June 2012 print edition and online on 18 July 2012.
Summary: Newsprint is increasingly popular among photographers, offering a cheap and effective way to publish a story, while reaching a larger audience. Olivier Laurent speaks with photographers who have embraced the medium
This feature was first published in British Journal of Photography in the June 2012 print edition and online on 21 June 2012.
Summary: For the past year, Human Rights Watch has been compiling documents and images found after the fall of Libya’s authoritarian regime in a bid to secure an important passage of the country’s history. Now a selection of these artefacts – named The Gaddafi Archives – is set to go on show at the London Festival of Photography. Olivier Laurent reports.
Read it online at http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/report/2179232/exploring-colonel-muammar-gaddafis-photography-archives
This feature was first published in British Journal of Photography in the July 2012 print edition and online on 21 June 2012.
Summary: MediaStorm has introduced a Pay Per Story scheme, asking viewers to pay $1.99 to watch its latest photographic and multimedia productions. Olivier Laurent speaks with founder Brian Storm about his goals.
Read it online at http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2186149/paid-experience-mediastorm-introduces-pay-story-scheme
This feature was first published in British Journal of Photography in the March 2012 print edition and online on 23 April 2012.
Summary: Interactive web documentaries aren’t new, but until now they have required a daunting amount of investment and strong programming skills. Now the Klynt app is aiming to eliminate these impediments, finds Olivier Laurent, speaking to the man behind the program, Arnaud Dressen.