Véronique Serre

Véronique Serre

Romanès circus

by Véronique Serre (France)

Je m’appelle Véronique Serre, je suis photographe en activité professionnelle depuis janvier dernier. J’ai choisi comme thématique de documentaire la troupe tzigane du cirque Romanès. J’ai rencontré l’essentiel de la famille qui m’a accueillie chaleureusement malgré toutes les polémiques actuelles sur le peuple Tzigane.

Portfolio from the Documentary workshop with Patrick Zachmann, October 2013.

Written review by GAIA TRIPOLI,
Photoeditor New York Times International, France

Veronique choose to photograph a gipsy circus, an interesting choice in a moment when the news are focusing on the Roma community and in Europe the stereotype of the child-stealing Gypsy was reawakened and there seems to be a reflux of old prejudice against their way of living and their traditions.

Given the global context, which she mentions in her introduction as well, I would have loved her to focus more on their daily live, emotions and intimacy. In the photoessay we can only glance at it, but I think that there would be a lot of room to explore that side in a deeper way.

Out of 12 images only 2 of them bring us into the circus' member daily life: we can only see a picture taken during a meal.

I would be very interested to see more: moments of their shared time together (outside from the training for the spectacle), jokes, moments of solitude, anything that might help the reader get a better idea of what it means to work in a gipsy circus, and to move around all the time to perform in different places, to live in such a contained community and space. This would really help adding some intimacy and closeness to the take.

The essay opens with a picture of the circus tent, which is placed in what looks like a parking lot, with some buildings in the background: so the circus seems to be placed in a residential area, which make me want to see more of the "co-living" with their neighbors, see if and how they interact. This might be an interesting part of the story to develop further.

The second image of the take is, as well as the first one, an establishing shot: Veronique is shooting again from a distance, giving the viewer a general idea of what the story is about. But she is too far, and the image to me results a bit confused and too loose.

In general Veronique tends to shoot often from a very similar distance, which does not help creating a rhythm in her story: she is always pretty much shooting at a middle distance, there are no details and no tighter images in the take. I feel she could try to add some variety to both her composition and her distance from the subject. She has a good eye for moments: in picture 3 for example, she catches a beautiful moment with the cat, but she is too far: she would need to get much much closer and show us the man and the cat, or even just the man's hand with the cat and the pole, not the whole scene. We do not need to see the entire scene all the time, sometimes it is important for the photographer to drastically select the portion of reality that he/she is going to show to give the picture strength and emotion. Her sensitivity for good moments is not well translated in her composition yet.

In picture 7 as well, I feel that Veronique could be even closer: again, we do not need to see the tent and the seat of the circus; focus on the cat, on the man's expression, on the tenderness of the moment. Also for this specific image, Veronique need to be more careful on where she s placing her subject: the background is mainly a white tent, but the man in the picture has a pole coming out of his head: she would have needed to step to her left and place her subject against the wait, in order to isolate him better. The following image, picture 8, has to much empty space in the middle of the frame, the empty floor does not provide any information to the reader.

The picture that are most successful in my opinion are frame 4 and 11: in frame 4, she is isolating her subject very well, and she captures a moment where the body language of the woman in the picture is very good. Picture 11 brings the reader in the daily life of the circus members and Veronique is using her frame very well, positioning the man in the foreground in the far right using the mirror to fill the otherwise empty space in the middle, and she lets the viewer glance at the woman in the background working in the kitchen.

I think Veronique could go back to the circus and work longer on the subject, seeking for a wider variety of photographs both in terms of composition and of content: I would definitely would like to see her shooting more situations then just the training, on top on trying to focus more on the daily life and intimacy of the people, she could also add one of the spectacle performances.

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