06 September 2012
The twelve of us met last Sunday at the Marais apartment of Peter Turnley, the renowned photo journalist who was born in Indiana, but has lived in Paris for over 25 years.
During his convalescence from an injury in a college football game Peter's parents presented him with a book on Henri Cartier Bresson and his interest in photography was born.
Little did he realise that he later would become friends with this inspiring man and others such as Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis and Josef Koudelka to name just a few.
In 1972 Peter and his identical twin brother, David, who also happens to be an award winning photo journalist, took turns with a shared camera to document the life in McClellan Street, an inner city and working class area in their hometown of Fort Wayne.
This project spanned a year and became the subject of an eponymous book.
Peter's first foreign assignment was to cover the funeral of Indira Gandhi and the ensuing sectarian violence in India in 1984.
This experience was to change his life ...
He developed an insatiable desire to travel and document people whose plight deserved the world's attention.
He has travelled to 90 countries over the past decades to photograph most of the world's conflicts and covered major world events such as September 11, 2001, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake and last year the toppling of Mubarak in Egypt, for example.
Peter has produced portraits of the modern world's most inspiring and influential figures such as Obama, Mandela, Gorbachev, Gaddafi, Lady Diana and many more.
He believes that photography is not at its core about cameras or film vs digital, but about exploring and contemplating the richness of life and the world around us.
I have embraced photo journalism as a means to communicate, provoke and inspire as well as to document history. I have employed the camera as a voice to shout out about injustice while affirming what is beautiful and good.
Peter's tender and sensual view of the City of light offers a distinct contrast to the stark realities in his photo journalism work. He continues to work on his long term project of photographing love in Paris.
Antoine is the charming French assistant who makes sure our caffeine intake is kept up.
His usual day job is in the wine industry.
Peter's loft apartment is on the 5th floor of a typically ancient Marais building and is in the middle of a major renovation.
Each morning we catch the tiny elevator up ( 3 at a time), but do manage to leave by the stairs at the end of class!
The photo shown in this shot is one of Peter's well known works.
See more of his amazing work at www.peterturnley.com
In this relaxed environment of Peter's Paris home we can look and listen and learn with fellow lovers of all things photography.
Each session our work from the previous day is reviewed and gently critiqued - some steep learning curves por moi, but guess that's part of the reason I am here !!
Patricia, Dan and Christian swap tips and their personal thoughts on photography.
One of the highlights of the week was a visit by Voja Mitrovic probably the most respected print maker in the world.
We were enthralled hearing how he creates the handmade silver gelatin prints from the work of all the leading photographers past and present.
The jargon of burning and dodging, multiple filters, washing and drying, flattening and signing may have been like a new language for me, but I totally understood how important this master has been in the world of photography.
Peter met this wonderful man in 1975 on a visit to the Picto laboratory in Paris where Voja was working on Henri Cartier Bresson's prints. They have remained firm friends ever since.
Voja said he likes to get to know each photographer so he can understand just what they are trying to convey.
He always made three examples for Cartier Bresson for him to choose the print and is proud that he never had to redo any of his work.
Cartier Bresson liked his prints to be low in contrast and high in soft tones - like the light in the Loire Valley.
We were also most privileged to see Voja's private collection of signed prints - photography at its finest !
Yesterday's fascinating talk was delivered by the acclaimed French photographer, Gerard Uferas. He showed us his wonderful work which includes his lengthy studies of the magical worlds of opera and ballet and behind the veneer of the fashion scene.
Gerard's recent exhibition showed his project of photographing seventy marriages in Paris. Of all ethnicities and shot from varied angles this is really an amazing body of work.
Gerard's passion and sensitivity shines through each image he creates and I so enjoyed this whole experience.
Look for his latest book on Dior due out this November.
The view from the apartment across the rooftops and chimney pots of the marvellous Marais.
What an enlightening way to take in another angle of this beautiful city that I love ...