Camille Lepage

Camille Lepage

Visual storytelling

by Camille Lepage (France)

Young photojournalist in South Sudan, I like to focus my work on the forgotten causes, on those people who suffer in silence and of whom no pays attention, or of whom no one wants to talk about. After getting my diploma in Journalism in July 2012, I decided to take off to South Sudan, with in mind, to bring some light on this new country often seen as doomed but also on a forgotten war taking place in Sudan, in the Nuba mountains and of which the only entry point is the South Sudanese border.

Portfolio from the Photojournalisme workshop with Ed Kashi, June 2013.

Written review by DAPHNE ANGLES,
European photo coordinator The New York Times, France/USA

The first part of Camille’s portfolio was shot in Sudan, Africa’s most recent, conflict-ridden and unstable nations. I am always incredibly grateful to photographers who venture into these areas in order to bring us the news. And I pray they are taking no unnecessary risks. Be brave but not reckless!

I very much appreciate the general feel of this work, the sense of impending danger that some of these pictures give out.  Also, Camille has edited her pictures to address several of the issues plaguing the country. The rebel soldiers are seen during a training session, in silhouette, light streaming past them toward the camera, with just enough information for our imagination to fill in the gaps. Then in a quieter moment, an almost poetic composition shows a young rebel’s profile in the foreground, out of focus, and our eye naturally travels to a scene in the background involving a dusty jeep and a change of tires. The shot of three rebel commanders is arresting because of the fierce look on their faces.

Finally, the view of a rebel in the shelter of a cave shows where these people hide to escape government bomber planes. I am drawn to the boy in ragged clothes behind him, just about to walk out of the frame. He will soon be old and tall enough to don his own battledress and fight alongside his peers.  

This opens the way to the pictures documenting how civilians are affected by the ongoing violence. The shot of the villager walking away with a gun and ammunition on his back is simple, powerful, and iconic. I like its crispness and the partial view of a hut in the background that helps anchor the scene in context. The image of the man leading a dazed woman through the smoking ruins of a village is attractive but a slightly tighter shot would have drawn me in more efficiently.  In the portrait of the landmine-wounded boy, his face is in focus and his bandaged hands blurred, as if suspended in a haze of pain. The soft green-blue color of the wall makes it somewhat easier to behold the horror of his facial wounds. The child wading through the dry sorgho field is a little dark in my opinion, making it hard to make out the interesting fact that there are two other children in the frame picking grains off the ground.

Camille also addresses the issue of rape, a terrible and all-too-common weapon of war, with a lovely portrait of a woman. Soft daylight delicately outlines her face, her eyes are downcast as if reflecting on her plight. I would just have preferred it as a horizontal shot, to keep the general harmony of the portfolio, and a little looser to allow space enough for the eye to enter the frame and move around this unfortunate woman.

The picture in the school has a good balance of composition, information, human situation, and even a touch of humor in the nonchalant attitude of the man standing in the doorway.

The wedding shot has deep rich colors and could work as a single. I’d be interested in know more from the caption about how the issue of religion fits into the general story.

Altogether, it is Camille’s reflective and intimate style of photography that help thread together this series of pictures. Hopefully she will have the opportunity to continue documenting the unfolding situation in Sudan. I also strongly encourage her to give a full journalistic twist to the captions by including, for each picture, background information that help us understand how each of them fit in her narrative.

With less time for research and shooting, finding an angle to tell the story of the Sudanese immigrants in Paris must have been challenging. Camille was nevertheless successful in summing up  the story in at least two pictures: the Darfuri man sitting in a Paris metro and the three immigrants sitting on a bridge above train tracks. In this one I like how the center focus is on the train tracks, alluding to these men’s long voyage to reach the West and how lost and uprooted they must feel in this alien, iron-clad  city. The shot of men inside a café is a little chaotic and out of synch with the caption. The picture with woman peering into a restaurant is an interesting situation that plays out in counterpoint with the little scene in the background. Her face is mostly hidden, though, so that the eye tends to rest on the doorway first before it can understand what this moment is about.

The pictures in the public garden have a very different feel to them. They almost look staged and lit as if this was a film set, in particular the group portrait with the policeman in the background. It’s refreshing and surprising, maybe a new direction for Camille to explore in the future?

Congratulation Camille and good luck with your future projects!

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