By Nic Bothma
A royal African welcome greeted me in Perpignan by French police who escorted me out of the arrivals lounge and took me to a room to search my luggage. It made me feel at home! We got chatting and once they realised I was a photographer attending the 26th edition of the Visa pour l’Image, the premier international festival on photojournalism, they smiled, stopped searching and welcomed me into Perpignan.
There is a lot happening in Visa pour l’Image’s professional week and impossible to take it all in. But we tried.
One of the highlights for me was seeing the Vietnam war through the eyes of Vietnamese photographers Doan Cong Tinh, Chu Chi Thanh, Mai Nam and Hua Kiem. The world’s perception of the war was largely shaped by the imagery provided by American photographers. Under extreme conditions these Vietnamese photographers worked and produced an excellent photographic record of events from a very different perspective. I wonder how things would have turned out if their images had received a global audience like the Americans and not surfacing at a photojournalism festival 50 years later.
One night whilst having dinner these humble gentlemen walked past our table and we were able to shake their hands and have a chat through their interpreter. It was a very special moment and a veteran American photographer dining with us was brought to tears after meeting them.
It was an honor and a privilege to attend this years Perpignan festival with friends from epa Frankfurt and around the world. I saw a host of excellent photography and attended inspiring talks and presentations. The only thing missing for me was a show of our brother Kerim Okten’s work. Kerim was the finest photographer to grace epa and I would have loved to see his work shown there. Perhaps it can sometime in the future.