Video © by Photo Raw Magazine
My intent here was originally to write a whole long treatise on Jean-François Leroy. But I skipped that idea. He is of course the progenitor of Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, France. 25 years worth of photojournalism based exhibitions, lectures, seminars, and workshops. Café de la Poste, a local bar and sidewalk cafe, is where it all comes together for discussion after a Jean-François hosted super projected evening slideshow of the work of some of the world’s greats.
I need write little, because everything you need to know about Jean-François is in the video above. Yup, that’s him all right. Yet I also know a man who gave me my first European exhibition that resulted in the publication of Divided Soul. When I first joined Magnum I ended up in Paris in spring. Jean Francois had already offered me a show before I even met him.
At some point the man picks me up at my hostel on his BMW street bike and zips me through the streets of Paris like a madman. We ended up at the home of my friends Sebastão and Lelia Salgado for lunch. A nice way to spend the afternoon in a city that personally affected me so much with its art and its photographers. France and the French have always been good to me.
Jean-François is a man of conviction as you can view above. That is what he is. He is 100% dedicated to making Perpignan happen. His way. He needs sponsors and he gets sponsors, yet he bends to none. He told me recently “Everybody told me I could not do this. That made me do it”. I get that. Do I always agree with his choice of shows? No. He and I often disagree about pictures. He leans almost total hard core photojournalism, and I lean documentary/art combo.
Yet so what? I love what he does DO. I never worry about what people do not do as long as they are doing SOMETHING really well. Jean-François has my respect and my friendship. I salute also all the fine photographers and editors who have contributed to Visa Pour L’Image. Viva!!
If you have never been to Perpignan (that’s what we really call it) you must go. A social scene that is THE hangout, along with a whose who in photoJ and more good shows than you will have time to see. For the emerging photographer you will see what you are up against. You will see your competition. Reality.
And buying a beer for a top picture editor will only get you a thanks but not a job. However, you can show your work to any number of top editors and picture agencies. So you CAN get your foot in the door if you have an armful of great work. That’s all it takes.
Jean-François is gonna kill me for not being there this year. I want to kill myself for not being there this year. Forget the excuses I have. Let’s just say I could not. My super big heartfelt apology mon ami. And ahhhh Café de la Poste. No better hang. Next year for sure!!
Happy 25th Jean-François Leroy. You be the man.