Launch of AFD Development Reporters Photography Contest – “Cities and People”
In 2012, AFD is launching the first edition of its “Development Reporters” Photography Contest. This contest is reserved for professional photographers and stems from the desire to use images to report on the major development issues. AFD’s aim is to raise the profession’s awareness of development challenges in Southern countries and invite reflection on tangible and sustainable solutions.
The evocative power of photography serving the cause of development
AFD has partnered with some of the biggest names in photography, the media and development to create this Contest. For the photographers who take part in the 2012 edition and its urban topic, this Contest also provides a wonderful opportunity to express their sensitivity, translate their interest in development into photos, share their vision of people at the heart of urban areas and depict the phenomena, changes and shocks taking place in them, but also the more positive interactions.
Three members of the jury Alain Mingam, journalist, photographer and President of the Photography Prize Jury, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer and director, Alain Genestar, Publications Director of POLKA Magazine and Louis-Jacques Vaillant, Director of External Relations and Partnerships at AFD, have accepted to give us four exclusive interviews (see the videos below) to tell us about this event, with the rich diversity of viewpoints it brings together, its purpose, and the observations that led to the choice of its topic for 2012, “Cities and People”.
"A development reporter is also a messenger of peace"
Video interview with Alain Mingam, photojournalist and President of the AFD Photography Contest Jury (in french)
The profession and passion of Alain Mingam, journalist and photographer, have taken him all over the world. Like other committed photographers, throughout his experience he has felt the need to freely, candidly and uncompromisingly bear witness to the realities experienced in countries that were sometimes devastated by war and conflict. For him, these fragments of history are precious and help bring certain intolerable situations and the dangers facing humankind to the attention of the public. He unhesitatingly sees photo reports as a powerful vehicle for peace and democracy. While the power of the image may help peace win out against war, and it is accepted that this peace necessarily requires development, informing on development issues is one of the indispensable conditions to guard against risks of division and violence. The passion and ethics that inhabit his profession allow the photographer to remain vigilant over our world.
Coming back to the topic of the Photography Contest, Alain Mingam explains that any well-informed photographer can only be struck by the status of cities, which are increasingly seen as a “safe haven” by communities who are victims of forced displacements or deficient agricultural policies. Unfortunately, the city may sometimes also turn from a haven into an “open wound” or even into a “tomb”. Thankfully, the city is not only a synonym of poverty and inaction and photojournalism can also report on great advances, such as ecological cities which offer wonderful reports allowing each of us to dream of a healthier and more sustainable city of the future. In view of the many challenges and implications, Mingam rightly deplores the fact that there are currently not more reports on cities and the people who live in them.
"The city sums up today's modern world, with its marvelous developments and its difficulties"
Interview with Alain Genestar, Publications Director - POLKA Magazine (in french)
When asked about the link between development assistance and photography, the journalist Alain Genestar begins by saying that there is a complementarity between these two worlds and builds his whole argument on this. He believes that photo reports provide testimonies, “stories to tell” in which human beings live, sometimes tear each other apart, sometimes help each other or love each other in sometimes difficult situations or situations of extreme poverty. Photo reports show the scale of what needs to be done for development, but also suggest the improvements that can be made to it. Development assistance is a concrete action and it is essential to show the positive progress, but also the failures and paradoxes, and this is where the photojournalist steps in.
Alain Genestar sums up the topic of the “Cities and People” Contest as characters in a “very visual” setting where almost half of the planet lives; urban concentrations which are places to meet, exchange, but also places of distress and disintegration. It is, unfortunately, within them that problems related to nutrition, hygiene, housing, crime, drugs, population displacements and ghettos proliferate. The city offers a whole host of unique experiences, because no two cities in different geographical areas are the same. Polka is interested in the AFD Photography Contest initiative because it provides the opportunity to meet photographers and development assistance leaders and to engage in a dialogue with them in order to devise a joint working project, the report, which is the vocation of a magazine like Polka.
"Photography, a great way to raise awareness".
Interview with Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer and filmaker(in french)
Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s participation in the Photography Contest Jury appears like a return to his roots and a nod in the direction of the profession that made him famous. Although this media personality admits that the television and cinema have somewhat distanced him from photography, this has not lessened his interest in the work of photojournalists. In these times of crisis which have not spared photojournalism, Yann Arthus-Bertrand feels that his participation is a way of showing his support, albeit symbolic he humbly admits, for his colleagues. He believes that the topic of cities through photography is a way of avoiding the collective denial of the negative impacts of the phenomena of rural exodus and urban sprawl which lead, amongst other things, to cultural shocks and problems of sanitation, security and housing.
"Understanding the city as a whole"
Interview with Louis-Jacques Vaillant, Executive Director of External Relations and Partnerships at AFD (in french)
Louis-Jacques Vaillant gives an overview of the major challenges posed by urbanization in Southern countries. He sees the city above all as a multidimensional object that includes people, activities, different forms of organization and structuring of spaces, which in turn determine flows, movements and therefore variable situations of integration and coexistence. Due to the evolving nature and diversity which characterize the sociocultural environment from one city to another, the issues that arise take a variety of forms. It is therefore necessary to take account of specific sociological features and contrasting levels of population growth.
AFD takes a holistic approach to the issue of cities by promoting a comprehensive vision, in opposition to a functionalist vision which, according to LJV, runs counter to the idea of a sustainable city. Louis-Jacques Vaillant comes back to AFD’s previous events and contributions on the topic of urbanization, in particular a report about Medellín made by the Magnum Agency and the photography competition for the general public launched by AFD. Louis-Jacques Vaillant welcomes professional photographers’ vision of city dwellers which, beyond words, helps to understand this complex issue and communicate on the considerable investment made by AFD in sustainable cities. At this difficult time for the media, where photographers are rightly wondering about which materials to use in the future, Louis-Jacques Vaillant adds that it is only fitting to contribute to reinvigorating their work and recognizing its deserved importance.
For further informations about AFD Development Reporters Photography Contest – “Cities and People”, cliquer here