Perpignan 2008

Perpignan 2008 Thursday September 4

By Beverly Spicer Friday, September 5th, 2008

It is Friday morning now and I’ve awakened to a cool breeze here at the beach in Canet, just a few kilometres outside of Perpignan. Many festival goers stay here along a strip by the beach, so we have the double pleasure of enjoying the ocean as well as exploring the festival. I’m not quite sure why, but this year I am more aware of the sheer magnitude of this event, and find myself wanting to know more about how it all got started in the first place. This year is the 20th anniversary of Visa Pour L’Image, so there is much celebration going on.

National Geographic held its annual party starting about 6:30pm and along with a sardine-like press of people socializing in the courtyard of Saint Jean Cathedral, there were also icons of the industry in attendance. David Douglas Duncan and his beautiful wife were here again, and sitting along the side being visited by many was John G. Morris, who says at 91 he is 6 months younger than Duncan. It feels great to have these kind of masters coming out to attend such an event, and I marveled at how much stamina they exhibited. Here are a few photos from that very lively event, with faces you’ll recognize as National Geographic celebrated 20 years of Visa Pour L’Image.

I’m using Safari and for some reason, my media-add function is acting up. I have no idea what thispost will look like on other browsers, but hopefully, you’ll get the idea.

20th Anniversary Cake

20th Anniversary cake

Jean Francois LeRoy, Director of Visa Pour L’Image

John G. Morris with David Douglas Duncan

The icons converse

Dennis Dimick, the “Al Gore of National Geographic”

National Geo’s Gina Martin, foreground/Dir. of Photography David Griffin, center

 Stefani Sinclair of VII, left, winner of CARE International Humanitarian Award

  Maggie Steber

Smithsonian’s Molly Roberts and Maggie Steber

David Alan Harvey and Michael Rand

More later about Le Soiree. -30-


Perpignan Arrival

By Beverly Spicer Thursday, September 4th, 2008

The Digital Journalist has finally arrived in Perpignan.  Checking in was a breeze and it was great to see the familiar faces of the Visa Pour L’Image staff.  

There was a little bit of confusion about hotel accommodations, and I found myself at the Park Hotel, who, against all odds, had a room for the night.  While there, I ran into Horst Faas in the lobby.

After delivering messages to him from Dirck and the rest of our staff, we chatted about his new book, published just last week.  I’m looking forward to seeing this retrospective piece, which he says was comprehensively pieced together from a couple of hundred old photos, clippings, and retrieved items for which the originals had long since been misplaced or discarded by one or another publication that had received them. We spoke of how difficult it is for a photojournalist to be his own archivist, as so many photos, even negatives, are sent to various recipients but never returned.  

Horst came by train to Perpignan and then while here does all of his on-the-ground mobile travel independently.  He was in the process of changing to a hotel that could handle his special needs.  Most elevators in town, including the one at the Park, are very small, holding a maximum of 4 people.  However, a wheelchair is too wide even for one to fit there.  With much kind assistance from the staff, he was soon he was situated elsewhere.  The way that Horst lets nothing hold him back is truly inspirational, and the logistics of his life are to me mind-boggling.  

Upon finding a room and getting squared away, first up was dinner just outside of Campo Santo with Smithsonian’s Molly Roberts.  We both had some of the finest Mozarella cheese either of us has ever tasted, prepared with fine olive oil and Italian spices.  

After dinner, it was time for the evening presentation, Le Soiree de Projection, which was nothing short of breathtaking, and par for the course for Visa’s evenings.  The jet-lagged haze was the perfect mental preparation for accepting such powerful images, and I settled into a mood that I realized matched the reason I was ever interested in photojournalism to begin with, over 30 years ago. The events worldwide are more and more staggering than ever, or is it just that we have had time now not only to accrue an historical comprehension in images, but also now to produce a profound amount of work.

The work of Alexandra Boulet was featured and a Boulet award given to Jean Chung.  Next proceeded images predominantly concentrating in Africa but also all over the world ranging from China, South America, Cuba, Europe, to retrospective pieces from the United States.  The multimedia presentation was accompanied by evocative music that in my mind was perfectly selected for what we experienced in imagery.


The collaborators were international photo agencies, and the presentation was obviously prepared especially for Visa Pour L’Image by editors whose names I failed to record. However, upon leaving the theater area, I could only exclaim, “Thank heaven for the French.”  Thank heaven for the deep emotionality, the exquisite sensibility, and the artistry in every single phase of life.  That’s the feeling for now, until next post.

Viva la France!!


The Digital Journalist Goes to Perpignan 2008

By Beverly Spicer Friday, August 29th, 2008

Blogging in Perpignan in 2007The Digital Journalist will attend Visa Pour L’Image 2008 in Perpignan, France, from September 3-8th.  This is the 20th year of the annual gathering of the photojournalism community whose members are from all over the world. Visa Pour L’Image is a huge festival of exhibitions and trade shows scattered around the charming town.  Multimedia shows are presented each evening at the town’s large open ampitheater.

l will be making posts to our blog from on a daily basis and possibly more frequently.  Last year I was in constant search for Internet connections, so I’ll be in touch as often as I can.

To the left you see a photo from 2007 with a fellow blogger as we sat connected to cyberspace on the floor of The PAM Hotel, headquarters for the festival (photo by Joan Gramatte).  The PAM has one of the few Wi-fi links in town and, mercifully, plenty of electricity for the digital crowd.  The headquarters also hosts a large open courtyard where portfolios are reviewed by photographers and agencies that are both scouting and being scouted.  

Elsewhere in the beautiful Catalonian town, all may be relatively quiet on the Wi-fi front, but in place of it, there are plenty of stunning views of architecture on cobblestone streets, wonderful food and wine, fascinating conversation, and the reason we go there to begin with:  for reunion and exhibits galore.  

See more about the festival, its exhibitions and night presentations scheduled for this year at the Visa Pour L’Image 2008 site.  It promises to be a fascinating week.

Stay tuned.