Rider on the Storm
Yann Layma au début des années 80 à la Cie. des Reporters © dr/Collection Puech
Yann LaymaYann Layma has been traveling the world since he was 16. Now fifty, he has been to more than 75 countries , he has been published by the most prestigious magazines, and is known worldwide for his photographs of China, a country he has visited countless times and whose language he speaks. Layma is one of the most incredible photographers I’ve met, both for the quality of his work and for the unusual path his life has taken.
We first met at the La Compagnie des Reporters in the early 1980s. Layma came to the agency with a project. But it wasn’t for a story. It was for a life project. The young man told me that his destiny had been revealed to him: he would learn Mandarin and spend his life photographing in China. Layma’s work in China is worthy of that country-continent. Yan Lei, his Chinese name, is well known to his fellow Chinese photographers.
When I met Layma again in 2004 and 2008, he shared fragments of his life with me, but little did I imagine the extraordinary story he tells in his latest book J’ai dû chevaucher la tempête – Les tribulations d’un bipolaire (La Martinière). In the book, which is mainly text with a dozen black-and-white photographs, Layma lays himself bare. He takes us through his struggles with bipolar disorder, and sometimes it’s terribly raw. The greatest attribute of Layma’s work is the candor felt on every page. These difficult truths can help other victims of this disease, and for that Layma deserves our deepest respect.
J’ai dû chevaucher la tempête – Les tribulations d’un bipolaire, Yann Layma
Editions de La Martinière