Digital Journalist

Hero Worship

By Jim Colburn Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

If you’re in southern France you can listen to Radio FUN playing a hard-techno re-make of Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time” that seemingly goes on for hours. You can turn to Radio Nostalgie for, well, golden oldies or you can try Radio NRJ (pronounced En-Air-Gee… Cute) for current pop.

Or you can wake up late, have a quiet lunch, sit around, soak up a bit of sun, do a little walking.

It’s around 30C (mid-80’s Farenheit) and the sun is shining. Today is going to be my first day for visiting some of the many, many photography exhibits placed around town. The main center for such things is a converted convent called the Couvent des Minimes. It’s a lovely space with lots of wall space for lots of pictures.


Last night was the first of the evening slide shows (or “Soiree de Projection”) at a place called Campo Santo. It’s a square or courtyard that, with the help of a large screen and some bleacher seats, becomes everyone’s extended living room. It’s as though all your relatives have brought all of their photos from all of their vacations and it’s going to take about and hour and a half to sit through them all. The strangest thing is that all those relatives of yours seem to vacation is the bleakest, most depressing places on Earth.

If you’re here from the US you’ll see many pictures and many stories that you just don’t see in American publications. There’s a lot of very strong photography and not a small amount of pretty weak photography. Can someone tell when vingetting became acceptable? It seems that there are a few photogs out there that manage to scrape together the cash for a 20mm lens but then run out of money before buying a lens hood, and so use the old one from a 28mm. Tiny, little and ever-so-annoying triangles of darkness at the corners of each frame is, I believe, not a good thing.

You get to see some of the day’s news photos at Campo Santo, surely a good thing as the “news” becomes something of lesser interest as the week goes by. You get to see some of the best news photos from two months of the previous year (since the last Visa Pour L’Image) and last night’s were from September and October.

You also get to see, and meet, people you’ve thought about meeting for years. In terms of meetings-with-heroes, I’ve shaken hands with Joe Dimaggio and Ted Williams (at the same event), talked amps with Eddie Van Halen, had a drink at the bar with Sean Connery and even been threatened with bodily harm by Sid Vicious, but last night I got to meet two of my personal photographic heroes.


At Campo Santo last night I realized that I was sitting across the aisle from Elliot Erwitt, probably my favorite ever photographer. I introduced myself, shook his hand and thought the night charmed. Sitting back down I heard someone speaking behind me to discover that it was none other than David Douglas Duncan… This is, in hero-worship terms, a two-fer of the highest magnitude. Introduced myself, shook hands, fawned a little and then, to prove that I wasn’t dreaming, managed to cajole the two of them into posing for a photo… :)

Today’s “Midnight At The Café De La Poste” photo:


Jan Garaup (Politiken-Denmark) and Bruno Stevens (Cosmos)

A Perpignan Blog? Sure. Beats Real Work…

By Jim Colburn Monday, September 4th, 2006

perpignanone0007.jpgThanks to a boatlaod of support from Canon Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France is back for another year, its 18th, and the party has already started.

Some of last year’s attendees are back, some new folks have arrived and more will be coming later in the week. Pulitzer Prize winner Todd Heisler is here to give a talk, show some work and have his back patted an awful lot.

There was a small problem at the registration table in that Visa’s computer thought that I was either Dirck Halstead Jr or, perhaps, a recently clone. Two of him were listed in the system, none of me. After explaining that the world is not really ready for two Dirck Halsteads the wonderful and talented ladies of Visa


sorted things out and issued the proper badges, schedules, pamphlets and booklets and the all-important invitation to Sunday evening’s “Welcome Drink” at the Hotel Pams, hosted, as last year, by Visa organizer Jean-Francois LeRoy.

perpignanone0022.jpgTo give you some idea of how important photography is to the French LeRoy was made a member of the Legion of Honor last year, which would sort of be like Robert Redford being given a Presidential Medal of Freedom for starting the Sundance Film Festival. (The Redford thing, by the way, ain’t going to happen…)

One of the more popular people on this first day was NPR’s Neal Jackson who made the mistake, unintentional I’m sure, of telling people that he was looking for photographers and agencies that National Public Radio could use for their ever-expanding web site. By saying this Jackson instantly turned into a large vat of honey and the photographers became flies…

One thing I’m particularly looking forward to is an exhibit of work by my all-time favorite photographer, Elliot Erwitt. While he may not be the only photojournalist in the world with a sense of humor he’s one of the very few that actually shows that sense in many of his photographs. One line from his exhibit statement is, “Making people laugh is one of the highest achievements you can have.” Bravo.

A Film Camera And A Cigarette - Retro Style
A Film Camera And A Cigarette – Retro Style

Tonight? Cafe De La Poste.