Philip Blenkinsop

United Kingdom

Of Mortals and Remembrance

Twenty-five years ago, I set out on a voyage.

My memories of those whom I have been privileged to encounter on this odyssey, albeit perhaps for a fleeting moment, are not about fleeting moments. Their lives go on… the experiences continue to shape  me, via my photographs and the interpretation they necessitate.

In solitude I search their faces, flat in shades of grey, long after the shutter rests, for clues, for word of their fate, and I am taken back to that time and the fears we shared.

They are the most memorable of occasions… Those times too short in the mountains living alongside people who would in an unthinking instant give their lives to save yours. This life is a journey along the paths of others.

It is not the image itself that is important, but the person it brings to you, even if (and perhaps even more so), after death.

He is, above all, a journalist. And essentially a photographer. Which does not mean that he defines himself as a photojournalist. His contributions caused scoops to multiply, through photographs that encompassed the coup d’état in Cambodia in 1997, the fight for survival of the Hmong of Laos, different guerrilla struggles, and he also covered the effects of the tsunami in Thailand in 2004 in an original and moving way. This lover of Asia, and especially of the South East, which is where he set up roots more than a quarter of a century ago, likes to investigate and shed light on situations of conflict and of fragility, seeking the most precise way to do so. He places the shots within a classical tradition associated with studio portraits, photographer and combatant each adopting their corresponding role and function. But this aficionado of black and white knows the limits of classic squares and rectangles, which he composes with care. In consequence, he even writes on proofs stained with blood to explain who the individuals are, clarify the factual situation, tell the stories. He fashions his books using covers joined with python skin and writes tirelessly to specify circumstances, to describe the identity of each participant. And thereby he challenges the narrative possibilities of photography.

-  Christian Caujolle