Arles Report 2006

The Les Rencontres D’Arles Photographie opened 4th of July and runs through to 17th of September with photographic exhibitions, folio evaluations and much more.
Arles Photo Festival

This was the first Arles photo event I have managed to get to, courtesy of Hewlett Packard (a big thank you). Photography takes over this old Roman town and in addition to the official festival events there are photographic shows all over town and spread over two and a half months, though the core festival week runs at the start of July.

Arles Photo Festival

Arles is a great opportunity to over dose on photography. People fly in from all over the world for a combination of exhibitions (lots of them), lectures and socializing with old and new friends. This year there was a lot of what I would call documentary style photography on show. However, given the huge number of both official and unofficial photo exhibitions, you could find work of all genres and to suit all tastes, from the straight fine art photography through to the heavily manipulated digital.

Arles Photo Festival

The largest single photo exhibition was held in a number of former railway sheds. These were connected by gravel paths lined with red flags, which formed an interesting subject for all the photographers present in its own right.

Arles Photo Festival

Given how many shows were on, and how beautiful Arles is, I took to just wandering around and stumbling onto photo exhibitions in little laneways. There was also some guerrilla activity going on, with people gluing postcard size images all over the place on walls and street signs.

Arles Photo Festival

I must confess to having been overwhelmed by the amount of photography on show at my first Arles. So rather than try to note individual photographer’s names whose work caught my eye, I chose to instead just soak in the atmosphere and get an overall feeling for the photography on show. What was obvious is that photography is alive and kicking, if rapidly moving into the digital domain. The vast majority of cameras I saw were Canon, and then Nikon, digitals, though there were a fair number of Leica film cameras in evidence too.

Arles Photo Festival

Harald Johnson
Here we see Harald Johnson hard at work. Given the heat, keeping your water intake up and getting rest when you can was a high priority

Arles Photo Festival
Arles is a great place to socialise with other photographers and artists. Here we have, from left, Nadia Salameh, Helen Golden, Mark Alberhasky and his wife Cindy and John Henshall. Mark is a columnist on the DIMi site. John (from England) and myself (from Australia) spent the night telling dirty jokes to our American friends. A great time was had by all and we discovered that English and Australian humor seems to be universally enjoyed 🙂 Perhaps it was the wine

HP Center at Arles
HP’s Print Center in an old church provided printing and custom photo books for visitors

Arles Photo Festival
The exhibition of new photography books of the previous year shows there is no shortage in the desire to publish great photo books

David Saffir Talk at Arles
The talks were well attended. Here David Saffir examines whether film is dead

Arles Photo Festival
Many churches were pressed into service as exhibition venues

Lots of prints were located outside. Here it is outside the HP Print Center

I can recommend Arles if you get the chance, and I’ll be back if I get the chance. Just be prepared for it to be very hot, expect visual overload and take lots of film or memory cards.

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