Valérie Toranian © Jean-François Robert
I never miss the “Visa pour l’Image” festival. As a representative of my magazine Elle of course, which has been a sponsor of the photojournalism festival since 2003, but also for myself.
“Visa pour l’Image” is more than the indispensable ritual which consists of diving for a few hours once a year into an impressive, sometimes spectacular and deeply moving pool of images. It also gives credence to the idea that confronted to the world’s drama—its excesses, its violence, its events both small and big—there are men and women willing to bear witness to it, to record it through photographs as others record it through words. Sometimes at the cost of their lives, or at the cost of a huge emotional strain which means that one often comes back from a reportage no longer completely the same, yet not completely someone else either. Once one earned one’s stripes in photojournalism in war photography, in covering the world’s conflicts. But it now extends to delving into the chinks and cracks of daily life—and that is its good fortune for we are always tremendously curious about the lives of our contemporaries. In this world of today where there is a plethora of sources, where history can shift via photos tweeted from demonstrations (and bravo for that!), where thanks to technology each citizen can become the reporter of his own life and that of others (and again, bravo!), one should not view photojournalism as a citadel in danger but rather as journalistic work that can claim for itself a definite ethic, and a value unlike any other: that of being the vision of a woman or a man, irrational, complex, unique, with all the ambivalence and ambiguity that is within each of us. And it is this complexity, this commitment, this subjectivity which is its quality, its uniqueness. Nothing is more like a photograph than another photograph but nothing is less alike than one reportage from another. The impact of an exhibition always comes from a story, a narrator (the photographer) and an individual who sees the story through his own subjectivity. This alchemy will always be irreplaceable. Our magazines will always need it. And Visa will always be the place where we gather together to reiterate our attachment to this human, artistic, and journalistic adventure.
Managing editor of ELLE