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Visual storytellers, photo editors and industry professionals gathered in southern France for the 31st edition of the Canon-sponsored photojournalism festival, Visa pour l’Image.
Canon has supported the photojournalism industry by partnering with Visa pour l’Image for the 30th year: bringing exhibitions, talks and debates to the festival, as well as touch-and-try displays, servicing 60 photographers’ kits each day and lending the latest additions to our portfolio at the Canon Professional Services (CPS) desk at the festival’s heart in the Palais de Congrès, Perpignan.
Championing photojournalism’s future, this year we brought 250 students from all over Europe and the Middle East to join the Canon Student Programme and the Content Creation Initiative, where they mingled with the world’s most inspiring imaging professionals in talks and portfolio reviews.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Canon sponsorship of Visa pour l’Image. To mark this relationship milestone and the benefits the festival has brought to Perpignan, Yuichi Ishizuka, president and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa was handed the keys to the city.
“I think the same event, with the same director and the same partner, for 30 years is a unique phenomenon in the world. It’s a real partnership and Canon is very supportive,” said Jean-François Leroy, Director of Visa pour l’Image.
“Before the Ambassador Programme, Canon had a programme called Club Pro and I was number seven in the club. My story with Canon is a personal relationship. Before the partnership, my first camera was a Canon FTb. I’ve had a relationship with Canon for most of my life.”
Alessandro Stanzani, Executive Vice President Imaging Technology & Communications Group at Canon Europe underlined how: “the Photojournalism Festival Visa pour l’Image in the past years has elevated itself from a sponsorship to a partnership, from an event to a platform where Canon meets the industry and, throughout the year, canvas relations with new audiences developing in the entire Europe ancillary programs”.
Exhibitions around the festival showed the work of photographers including Canon Ambassadors Brent Stirton, Ivor Prickett, Pascal Maitre, and 2018 Canon Female Photojournalist Grant recipient Laura Morton.
Brent Stirton had two exhibitions in Perpignan this year: “Rangers” a long terms project documenting the fight against poachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the African continent, while a second the exhibition in the Canon space brought together iconic photos proving the resilience of the photographer, his journey into photography and the long relation with the Canon EOS system.
Ivor Prickett’s End of the Caliphate exhibition showcased his images from Iraq and Syria between 2016 and 2018, regularly published on the New York Times and now in a beautiful book Ivor presented during the week. Pascal Maitre’s exhibition, based on a National Geographic production, documents the evolving scenario of local population in the Saharan region, migrants and refugees making dangerous desert crossings. Laura Morton’s University Avenue exhibition explored demographics in Palo Alto and the Silicon Valley area in California.
Alongside the physical exhibitions at Visa, we invited people to post images from their portfolio using the hashtag #The24thExhibition. This created a virtual exhibition space from which Canon France selected its favourite photos to repost.
Over 240 students from countries all over Europe were offered support and guidance from photographers including Canon Ambassador Ilvy Njiokiktjien and Politiken photo editor-in-chief Thomas Borberg. Over 20 international photo editors including the Guardian’s Fiona Shields reviewed portfolios, helping to shape the future industry pros.
“What I look for at Visa pour l’Image, like the rest of us, is inspiration. No matter if you’re a young student or a skilled photographer, the most important thing here is networking, and talking with other photographers. It’s about what everyone is doing, what they’re thinking about,” said Thomas.
Nadine Mabinda Kinzumba, a student at Novia University of Applied Sciences in Jakobstadt, Finland, said: “Being here listening to our heroes and learning from professionals is so inspiring. This is such a great opportunity.”
Camilla Ferrari (IT), a participant of last year’s student programme who returned to Visa pour l’Image this year as Alumni, together with Nina Kinkade Kinkade (FR), Andreas Haubjerg (DK) and Arne Piepke (DE) had their work projected as part of official programme at Camposanto on September 5th, said: “Perpignan is the best place for networking; making people see your work and showing your work to editors. The second time for me is more exciting because I get to deepen the relationships that I built last year.”
Canon Ambassador and Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist Daniel Etter took time to mentor a small group of older students at this year’s festival. “I always enjoy being around students and trying to guide their way a little bit, maybe just by asking the right questions,” he said.
“The students that are coming nowadays are amazing, very thoughtful people. They’re self-reflective, much more than in previous generations, and this is really amazing to see. Students nowadays seem to have a more conceptual understanding of what they do.”
A collaboration between Canon and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was celebrated in exhibitions at the Canon stand and in a panel discussion. The project, Unfiltered, saw professional photographers mentor young people living in various areas affected by conflict.
The panel discussed how young people in the Ain el Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon were empowered to tell their own stories of life in the camp, rather than becoming the relatively passive subjects of outside photographers’ stories. Mentors showed them how to use Canon systems and taught them photography skills, as well as giving them the courage to start taking pictures in environments, where people regarded photography and photographers as alien.
Armenian photographer Anush Babajanyan received the 19th Canon Female Photojournalist Grant in a dedicated event. Given to “an outstanding photographer in recognition of her contribution to photojournalism”, the grant of €8,000 is awarded to Anush to complete her project focusing on large families in the South Caucasus region.
“Winning this award means I have support to give much better attention to the families I've been photographing and the people living in South Caucasus,” she said. “It means I get to go back and complete the story. It also encourages me greatly. This recognition gives an additional and often needed level of reassurance.”
In response to the ever-changing industry, we also announced a new award at the closing event: a Canon video grant that will fund the completion of the winner’s project, and be showcased at Visa pour l’Image 2020. An announcement on how to enter is expected in October on Visa pour l'Image's awards and grants page.
Find all the Canon-related stories on our Visa pour l'Image page.