Kiev Seen by Benjamin Girette and his iPhone
Ukraine, written by Michel Puech
Benjamin Girette, 27, is one of the photojournalists who came to the fore during the Arab Spring. He’s just returned from Kiev with a series shot on his iPhone.
“I’ve been on Instagram for two years, and it’s been two years since I started working with Hipstamatic, with John S and his D-Type plate ‘film’, which tries to recreate the collodion effect from old glass plates.”
“I first went to Kiev at the end of January. I stayed a little over a week and then went home because not a lot was going on and I had some assignments in Paris. I stayed in Paris for ten days but when the police tried to clear the Maidan in mid-February I went back, without a guarantee.”
“For news stories, 99% of the time I go without a guarantee. Then once I’m there I try to find assignments,a day rate for a newspaper or, better yet for a a magazine… But the events in Kiev attracted a lot of great photographers and I wasn’t going to delude myself. So I had to find something original. That’s when I put away my camera and pulled out my phone.”
“Instagram was great for finding contacts. When you’re a young freelancer, you’re a little isolated. Thanks to my Instagram account, I met a lot of photographers and photo editors.”
Girette discovered photography on his parents’ coffee table, where Sebastiao Salgado’s Exodes sat next to books by Raymond Depardon and Henri Cartier-Bresson. After graduating from high school, he studied law and taught himself how to shoot pictures in the streets during the Chinese New Year and the Ganesha festival in northern Paris.
After finishing his studies, he decided to try his luck as a photographer, and put together a project, 24 Hours in Europe, with a childhood friend, Guillaume Poulet Mathis. The adventure continued, and so did his learning.
“I started shooting for the press in 2011 during the Arab Spring. After doing some freelance work from Tunis for Abaca and Associated Press, Rémi Ochlik introduced me to Christophe Bertolin, his partner at IP3 Press.”
They took Girette under their wing, and he covered the events in Tunisia and, later, Egypt for IP3. He also photographed Tunisian refugees in Italy, the “indignado” movement in Spain, and Syrian refugees in Turkey. Then it was time for Ukraine.
Read the full article on the French version of L’Oeil.