Victor Raison

Victor Raison


by Victor Raison (France)

My name is Victor Raison, I am a 28 year old french photojournalist. I have studied modern literature at la Sorbonne and Photojournalism/ documentary photography at the London College of Communication. I will be based in New Caledonia from November 2014 as a staff photographer for Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes. It is now 3 years I am working as a freelance photojournalist, on personal projects on which I am passionate about.

Portfolio from the Documentary workshop with Patrick Zachmann, September 2014.

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

Victor chose to present a reportage on the city of Bonaventura, Colombia’s principal trading port with about half of the country’s national products passing through its harbors, a city that also has the highest homicide rate of Colombia and with hundreds of disappearances which are almost systematically murders. The victims are often tortured and dismembered alive in what is called casas de pique- literally chop houses for witchcraft beliefs common within the criminals from the pacific coast.

The story is all together well photographed, in a solid black and white documentary approach. there are a couple of particularly strong images:
- image 2 and 3, which show the environment in which the population lives, which looks like a bidonville, made of shacks.
- image 4, which shows a daily life moment of two wowed with children
- image 9 that shows a man in the foreground (he could be a policeman, but I al not sure) with a body being carried away behind him in the background.

Other images are less successful in my eyes:
- image 5, a little girl in the foreground looking into the camera while kids are playing behind her: in my opinion the fact that the child is staring into the camera is a flaw, it shows too much interaction with Victor's subject, too much interaction of the photographer with the people he is taking pictures of. Also, the scene of the kids playing behind her, despite behind a very good idea, does not help the composition of the image, because one of the kids is jumping rich behind her head, creating weird effect of legs and arms coming out of her hear.
This is a very good example to me of a scene with a great potential that does not translate into a successful picture. I would love to see more frames from the scene to maybe find one where the child in the foreground is not looking and interacting with Victor and where what happens behind her is shows in a clearer more effective way. Of course this in no easy task, because the subjects are moving around him, and the scene develops very quickly, but I think it is worth trying. Which is way Victor did very successfully in picture 9: in both images he was using in in composition an element in the foreground, a little less sharp than the scene happening in the background, but leading the viewer to look into that background.
This is something Victor can work on and get to master the way the creates layers and elements in his framing.

Picture 6 shows us a cop on the right side of the picture, and a family behind under a porch. The kid in the picture is again gesturing to the photographer, so again I would suggest that Victor pays attention to avoid this kind of interaction.

In picture 8 Victor shows a scenes of an altar I believe, with flowers put on a table to remember somebody that passed away. the is a child walking in front of it: Victor successfully documenting the child's attitude: he is looking down while walking, very composed, gives the impression that he is grieving or deep in his thoughts. The only thing that bothers me a bit is that the the scene be hid the child's head is cluttered, with a lot coming of his head: this might sound like an exaggeration, but completely successful pictures are made of mots of small details, and being able to focus the viewer's eye on the subject, without distracting elements, is very important.

One other thought: Victor could probably have insisted more in photographing elements that represent the loss and grieving for the murders and disappearances. this can be done in a multitude of ways, looking for a cemetery, asking families to photograph pictures of objects of the missing person that they might have kept. Also having some close-ups would help Victor create a visual rythm to the story, some changes of distance in his pictures, avoid repeating to many middle distance images.
And sometimes meaningful still-lives can carry a strong emotional content.

Content wise, I would feel the need to see something from the harbor of the city, since it is essential to the city economy and probably contributes to the violence rate. Maybe the story does need to be developed further to include other elements of the city life that are opposite but connected to the life in the bidonville.

One last thing on the sequencing and pacing of the story: I would suggest Victor to try to avoid repeating very similar situations one after the other. In particular the beginning of the sequence needs to be reworked to avoid having 2 starting pictures (2 and 3) that basically introduce the reader to the fact that the reportage documents a bidonville, focusing on the shacks. this is particularly true for picture 2 and 3 that represent a very similar scene with a very similar perspective: they can coexist in the take, but would need to be separated in the sequence.
My suggestion would be to open with the strongest image, 9 that shows the elements of death, and in a way discouragement and grief in the man's face, and then more on to show where this happens, with picture 2, continuing with a daily life scene with women, and then the presence of the military and so on...

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