Scoop Grand Lille 2011: Rémi Ochlik, prix Calderon

Mis à jour le 9 janvier 2012 par Michel PuechMichel Puech publie dans La lettre de la photographie, lettre quotidienne en français et en anglais.The Scoop jury unanimously selected Remi Ochlik to receive this year’s Grand Prix Jean-Louis Calderon for his three reportages in competition “The Fall of Tripoli”, “Egypt Tahir Square” and “The Jasmine Revolution”.

“As a little boy, I always wanted to become an archeologist, for the traveling, the adventure…” Rémi Ochlik was born in 1983 in the industrial Lorraine region of France. He began taking pictures with a gift from his grandfather, the Olympus OM1.

“Like everyone, I began taking pictures of my friends. I did the developing and the printing. My parents wanted to send me to school, I chose ICART photo in Paris where former Rapho photographer Mark Grosset was director.


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“In September 2002, thanks to my friends, I went to the Wostok agency. Slavina, the founder, was a surprising woman. She cooked for us, offered us vodka and edited our pictures. She would say: that one is good, that one is garbage. I learned a lot. I covered demonstrations, and more demonstrations, until in 2004 the civil war broke out in Haiti. It was my war, I thought.”

Only 20 years old

“When I saw what was going on in Haiti, I immediately asked myself what I was doing there. Guys with guns were taking me around on motorbikes. I could sense the danger, but it was where I always dreamt to be, in the action.” Choc magazine bought his pictures for 2000 euros. His pictures, submitted by Mark Grosset, were selected for the Prix jeune reporter François Chalais at Visa pour l’image.

“It was euphoric. I thought that every magazine would call me with commissions” he chuckled. Nothing happened, or nearly nothing. But he would travel to Liberia, Sierra Lione, then the Congo. In 2005, Slavina left Wostok, followed by Ochlik who would create IP3 with a group of friends, thereby obtaining a French press card. (n°102 206).”

“In 2006, IP3 included a group of young photographers doing cool things, but the economic crisis had already hit and we weren’t selling.” Rémi Ochlik, however, kept working, covering the presidential campaign of 2007, François Bayrou, Ségolène Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy…
« 2008, 2009… journalism was suffering. But in 2010, I decided to return to Haiti, and I arrived there just as the cholera epidemic hit. My costs were covered with a nice publication in VSD.”

January, 2011, Tunisia. “Not far, not expensive”. Rémi Ochlik left with his friend Lucas Dolega who he had met two years previously at Nouvel Observateur. On January 14, he was with Dolega when his friend was mortally injured by a grenade. Like the other young photographers there that day, he has a hard time talking about that moment when their youthful innocence disappeared.

The Lucas Dolega Generation

“Everyone was shocked… But with Luca, we had come to work. So I kept on working and began sending my pictures to Bureau 233 whose sales team was superior to IP3. “

With the “Jasmine Revolution”, Rémi Ochlik’s picture ran in Paris Match. From Tunisia, he would eventually make it to Benghazi in Libya via Egypt, and would spend one month on the dangerous front lines where three seasoned photographers would perish.
When Tripoli fell, and Paris Match’s photographer Alvaro Canovas was injured in gunfire, the French newsweekly gave Ochlik a guarantee. Thanks to Guillaume Clavières and Marc Brincourt of the Paris Match photo department, he was able to “cover” the Libyan civil war, capturing the death of the dictator. Since then, he produced commissioned work for the same magazine, documenting the destruction of the African tent city in the Parisian suburb of La Courneuve.

For Guillaume Clavières, Senior Photo Editor at Paris Match « Rémi is one of the most talented young photographers of his generation. Motivated, enthusiastic, curious and brilliant. He is capable of going from one difficult news topic to another less dramatic subject with the same photographic quality. The future is his.” As for Jean-François Leroy who in the past recognized the quality of his work, he is thrilled that the young man is again receiving an award.

Michel Puech

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