Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hunt me on Facebook... and then some


It seems I am using Facebook more and more as my actual Blog - so you can always find latest here, if you like my Facebook page.

Also, I am joining Instagram today - not sure if it's a mistake, but it will be fun to give exposure to some images - my personal account is @paleyphoto and I am also filing @natgeo and @thephotosociety .


As for Twitter , you can find me under @paleyphoto

But I will make sure to update major things here on my blog such as, for example:
- my story on Nat Geo website (it's a 28 pages article in the February 2013 issue)
- a feature on my work on the New York Times Lens Blog (thanks James Estrin)
- and a short on the NPR

I am here, it's just that I tend to spread the love :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Photo Society


Very happy and seriously humbled to be in such great company, on the web site of The Photo Society : "a group of contributing photographers for National Geographic magazine, committed to telling the world's stories through pictures."


Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview de Matthieu Paley, conduit par Thierry Lyonnet



 
VisagesMatthieu Paley, photographe

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Interview


Un interview realisé dans le cadre d'une conférence autour de notre livre Pamir, Oubliés sur le Toit du Monde - © Raphaël Gaudriot de l'association Points-Coeur.

Je m'attarde sur la beauté
Matthieu Paley, photographe du fini et de l'infini


Matthieu Paley est un photoreporter spécialisé dans les régions de l'Ouest Himalaya. Outre des collaborations pour Géo, Time, Newsweek... Matthieu fait partie des rares photographes français à travailler sous contrat pour National Geographic. "Oubliés sur le toit du monde" est un magnifique ouvrage de photographies et textes qu'il a réalisé avec son épouse. A l'occasion de la sortie de ce livre aux Editions de la Martinière, Matthieu sera à la Maison Adrienne-von-Speyr ce jeudi 11 octobre pour une présentation de ses années de travail.  

Pourquoi as-tu commencé la photographie?
C'est une question très difficile. J'étais attiré par quelque chose, j'avais envie de trouver un métier qui n'ait pas de règles bien établies. J'avançais - comme maintenant - en écoutant mes envies. La photo m'intéressait, le théâtre aussi, le domaine de l'expression et du visuel.  C'est dans la photo que j'ai trouvé la liberté pour appliquer ce métier qui peut se décliner à infini. D'autre part, le fait qu'il faille se surpasser au niveau de sa timidité pour approcher les gens, avec beaucoup de respect, m'intéressait. C'était un challenge auquel j'avais envie de me confronter - pas de long téléobjectif pour moi! Or, il me faut absolument un défi dans ma vie, pas au sens physique du terme, mais en rapport avec les gens que j'ai envie de photographier. Par exemple, les kirghizes afghans sont des gens qui sont plutôt éloignés de moi dans leur comportement. J'ai commencé à travailler en profondeur sur ce sujet pour mieux le comprendre.

Quel est le reportage qui t'a le plus marqué?  
C'est certainement celui qui paraît dans le livre "Oubliés sur le toit du monde" qui est le fruit de douze années de travail. J'ai rencontré le peuple kirghize pour la première fois en 2000 lorsque j'étais au Pakistan avec mon épouse - ils arrivaient sur leur yaks des hauts plateaux d'Afghanistan. Je suis retourné les voir en 2001 alors que je travaillais avec la Fondation de l’Aga Khan. J'ai alors réalisé qu'il s'agissait plus que de prendre simplement des photos de kirghizes. Une histoire commençait entre eux et moi. Comme ils ont été exilés en Turquie en 1978 quand les russes sont entrés en Afghanistan, je suis alors parti en Turquie pour les voir là-bas et j'ai ramené des lettres à leurs proches, minorité restée en Afghanistan. J'ai ainsi remis en contact des familles qui ne s'étaient pas revues depuis 25 ans.  J’ai voulu aller plus loin et retourner en hiver. Je l’ai proposé à Géo Allemagne qui m'a alors suivit dans cette aventure. C'était une expérience incroyable car j'avais un doute sur la réussite de cette expédition: c'était en Afghanistan, il fallait remonter cette rivière gelée alors que depuis 1972, aucun occidental ne l'avait remontée, mon fils n'avait pas un an... J'ai ensuite eu la chance de retourner en hiver à trois reprises leur rendre visite. C'est un luxe rare en photographie de pouvoir travailler en longueur et de voir l'évolution des gens, de voir les choses changer.

Mais désormais ma question est de savoir ce que je peux donner en retour à ce peuple, après avoir pris toutes ces photos.  Je n'ai pas envie de "faire quelque chose". J'ai vu tellement d'ONG qui ont "fait des choses", mais qui n'ont mené à rien, sinon à "soulager leur conscience". Il faut qu'il y ait un impact durable et cela ne vient pas de l'agitation. Alors je ne "fais" rien, ou bien peut-être ce livre est-il une action, en  rendant hommage à ces personnes. Mais c'est un hommage qui n'est pas larmoyant, envers une société qui est sur le point de disparaitre. Ce qui compte c'est de montrer une société où certes les gens souffrent énormément, mais sans se plaindre. Ils prennent la vie telle qu'elle est. J'ai été ébahi par exemple devant l'acceptation de la réalité de Khaltcha, cette femme qui m'a dit à l'improviste, sans se morfondre, qu'elle avait perdu ses 11 enfants. Pour elle, c'était un fait, ce n'était pas injuste. C'était une sacrée leçon de vie. Je crois que dans nos sociétés, nous avons perdu cette force de gérer la vie. Nous voulons sans cesse nous battre pour que notre sort s'améliore, en n'étant jamais heureux de ce qui est maintenant. Ainsi, ce qui m'a le plus marqué dans mes reportages et dans celui-ci en particulier, ce sont les personnes que j'ai rencontré, à travers des expériences de beauté, mais aussi de dureté.

Quelle est ta vision de la photo, de la vie ?
Je cherche les choses et les gestes  anodins qui montrent une humanité commune.  Je montre la vie dans ses sous aspects.  Les sujets que je traite ne rapportent habituellement pas ou peu d'argent! Aujourd'hui, il faut souvent partir sur les fronts de guerre pour vendre. Je recherche la beauté et décide m'attarder sur elle. Mais une question qui m'habite est que même dans la douleur, même dans les photos de mort, on peut percevoir une certaine beauté.

Je recherche la dignité chez les personnes. Je ne prends de photos pour montrer les conditions difficiles dans lesquelles elles vivent afin que l'on vienne les aider. Je suis là pour témoigner, mais pas pour qu'on trouve une solution pour eux. Car il faut que les solutions viennent de l'intérieur et non pas de l'extérieur. Il faut laisser durer les expériences. Il faut rendre témoignage pour montrer comment sont les choses tout simplement.

La photo qui m'émerveille est celle où je ne comprends pas, où je ne contrôle pas tout. C'est à la fois un peu énervant, cela fait un peu peur. Pour faire une bonne photo, il faut donc à la fois une dose de surréel, un appel de l'au-delà, intangible, intemporel et une dose de ce qui se rattache à notre vie, plus humaine, plus proche.
La bonne photo est toujours la bonne prochaine photo que je vais prendre!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Launch - Pamir, Oubliés sur le toit du Monde...

It is time to pick up the blog again! I do a lot of my updates these days via my Facebook page, but nothing beats the blog.

Here is a quick recap since my last entry last May (!):
First, we settled in our new home near Izmir, on the Aegean sea - while doing finishing touches on our Pamir book. Then I was off again, on a job for National Geographic - I went back to Afghanistan, to the Pamir, to complete the story I started to shoot for them last winter. Here are the field reports. I went for 5 weeks with Nat Geo writer Mike Finkel. Intense experience (and long...), but nothing compare to the winter trips. The amazing thing is that we had our own tent at night - none of these smoked-in shepherd huts that can be miserable in winter.

Here in summer, back in 2005 - on our long donkey trek from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Good weight watcher's program at high altitude.


 I was back home in Turkey late July,  and right away dived into the images and started to edit my work and do captioning. I spent August in Turkey, enjoying family and kite surfing as much as I could. Late August, I went to Perpignan and met some other fellow photographers as well as editors - and enjoyed the work on exhibition this year, a very impressive selection.

Mid-September I was in Washington for my final show at National Geographic magazine. It consists in a presentation in an amphitheater of the final images (we had about 60 - out of the 15.000 or so that I shot over my winter and summer assignments) that my editor and I had selected : the time to show, explain and impress. This went really well and we are now in the layout process of the story. It's a real privilege for a photographer to be still involved in the process at this stage. I don't know of any other magazines that does that. The story will come out early next year.

NOW - well... our book is coming out! Both in France (Editions de la Martinière) and Germany (Knesebeck). French title is "Pamir - Oubliés sur le toit du monde" and the German goes "Pamir - Vergessenes Volk auf dem dach der welt".

This below is how the 2 editions look. Only the covers are different, the inside pages are the same.
 


It's 256 pages (some 200 images large format) for over 10 years of work - blood and tears of joy poured into that one!
There are about 27.000 words - yes, there is text! - a very personal account (written by my wife Mareile and I) of our accidental journey that turned into a deep relationship with this unique place.

Here is Mareile giving us a little preview - the Kyrgyz wedding.


Mareile art directed and designed the book, and we paced the text with the more documentary shots, to give it air. We worked on appealing tag-lines along the text, to get people to dive into it. Anthropologist Ted Callahan added his touch with great text boxes spaced throughout the book.

Pamir, forgotten on the world!

The book will be available through our book website, as limited edition with archival prints etc. Here it is : www.pamirbook.com

I might add some text excerpts on this page later.

Yours, Matthieu

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pamir Book - week 1


Pamir - Forgotten on the roof the world
This is the story of a book that took its time to come alive ; over 10 years of my life with a continuing obsession: the remote mountains of High Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan). We just finished the layout – over 220 images in a 256 pages book, published at the Edition de la Martiniere (as well as a co-edition in Germany and in US to come). Every week, I will put 1 or 2 images (with the story behind), until the publication of the book at the end of September 2012.

Pamir - Oubliés sur le Toit du Monde.
C’est l’histoire d’un livre qui a mis du temps à naitre ; plus de 10 ans de ma vie avec une obsession: les montagnes reculées de la Haute Asie (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan). Nous venons de terminer la mise en page du livre – plus de 220 images pour 256 pages, publiés aux Editions de la Martinière (ainsi qu’une co-edition en Allemagne et aux US à venir). Chaque semaine, je mettrais une ou 2 images (avec leur histoire) qui apparaitront dans ce livre, jusqu’à sa sortie fin Septembre 2012.


5000m, Irshad pass: la ou tout a commencé: un pied en Afghanistan, un pied au Pakistan. Entre Pamir et Karakoram, j’y suis retourné 7 fois.
5000m, Irshad pass: this is where it all began: one foot in Afghanistan, one foot in Pakistan. Between Karakoram and Pamir, I went back 7 times.

 
Mareile + moi + notre ane Clémentine. Col de Karumbar pass, pendant notre lune de miel, Pakistan, 2004
Mareile + I + donkey Clémentine – we are honeymooning. Karumbar pass, Pakistan, 2004

Thursday, April 19, 2012

National Geographic Field Test from the Wakhan corridor - extra dispatch 2



Qyzyl Qorum – life at the end of the Wakhan Pamir / Afghanistan

We had to leave our wedding party behind. Before we left, Malang asked the very young husband if he had consumed the wedding  the previous night and he chuckled and blushed – I think all is good on that end…


Half an hour down the hill is Qyzyl Qorum, a campment of 5 families – the seat of the now deceased Khan: Abdul Rashid Khan. He had 14 kids and 3 wives. A soft spoken man, non-opium smoker, he was well respected by the whole Afghan Kyrgyz clan. I met him in 2005 and 2008. Now that he is gone – he died in december 2009 -  it’s another story…
We stay at his son’s house, Haji Roshan “Khan” . I have to put Khan in brackets, because he is not really the Khan. A Khan needs to be elected by the “Aksakal”, the white bearded men, and he was not – he was just appointed by his father. He is also too young and inexperienced. These days, Haji Roshan spends too much time smoking opium and not enough time thinking of the future of the Kyrgyz – this is the gossip of the land and I would agree with it… I recognize some of my pictures on the wall that I brought back few years ago – nicely framed in some metal scrap. Outside, the light is falling and the girls are milking the yaks. Not much milk in winter. One of the baby yak is fed Nan, the flat afghan bread – his mum has been killed by wolves (or snow leopards?), it happens a lot around here. 


The girls are enjoying the little gossip there is available, probably based on stories of lazy husbands and visits to relatives. Most of the women in the Pamir have not been further away than a day’s walk from their camp – for their whole life...
Arab, one of the youngest kid of the Khan closes the sheep pen using Marco Polo sheep horns. Meanwhile, Karzai, his younger brother, throws the family cat in the air – it’s no fun to be cat or dog in the Pamir…
In the morning, I hear noise coming from the the now empty sheep’s pen. And here is the Pamir football team – most likely the only foot ball in the Pamir. I try to teach them a few tricks and there is much laughter, the kids are so incredibly excited - until a mother comes to scowl one of them. I make a mental note to try and bring a football next time I come up here…
It’s snowing lightly – I see Arab and Karzai in the distance, leaving with the 2 camels. “Mir Ali, let’s follow them, see what they are up to!” and there we are, following the 2 boys. There are going to the Autumn camp to load up on “Wuch” = Hay for the horses.   


We go back after an hour and come by Ikhbal’s place, the last wife of the Khan. She has always been a bit of a joker and I enjoy her company. Currently, she tries to apply make-up bought to itinerant Badakshi traders – by the look of it she has never done it. One of her son tries to help – the other kids are giggling away. Ooroon Boi, an older son of the Khan, comes by asking for help with his computer. His adapter is melted – I am of little help.
It’s time for “Namaz”, one of the daily 5 prayers. Daryo Boi is washing his hands and feet, his new wife for over a year brings the solar powered lamp home.  Daryo Boi and Tella Bu are for me, hands down the cutest couple in the whole Pamir. I have known Tella Bu, the youngest daughter of the Khan (a princess I dare say) since 2005 – the most beautiful and innocent girl. I saw her last year and she must have been going through the hard teenage years – really not so pretty anymore. By some miracle, she is back in full force and seems in love with her man (although it’s impossible to breach that subject around here…) the strong and kind Daryo Boi – I nickname him “Palang”, the tiger. He dreams of having his own house, which would cost him about 1000 USD to build – mostly the cost of the wood for the roof, which needs to be carried from the lower valleys on yak’s back for a week. But he is the poor son of an opium addicted father and only owns 2 yaks and a few goats.
The morning of our last day, before I leave, I want to get into the only vehicle on the whole Pamir – and the oddest sight around her - the “Mobil Madical Unit” bus exceptionally brought over from the Tajik border, which must have cost a small fortune. The story of this bus is a long story -  I won’t get into it - a typical example of people wanting to help, but not thinking it through… The bus was brought here to provide medical help, and after a month, the “doctor” left back to Tajikistan. This was 5 years ago. Since then, the bus is rotting away on the roof of the world… Inside there is expired medicine thrown all over the floor. Arab follows me and plays in the operative theater. Another kid climbs into the driver’s compartment…
Meanwhile, 100 meters away, in Aziz’s house, Nazi Khush is dying. I take a look at her legs, inflated by water it seems. “She is always thirsty” tells Aziz, her opium addicted husband. 
Her kids are watching. In my opinion, it’s a bad case of diabetes – I offer to Aziz to take her down and bring her to the hospital in Ishkashim. He declines – she would die on the way and all she wants is to die here, in her “watan”, her mother-land. She seems ashamed of the situation, which is even more heart breaking – she doesn’t want to be seen like this – asking me to please not photograph her face. Tella Bu comes to talk to her. I photograph them together, Nazi Khush under the bed cover – she is 6 months pregnant and doesn’t have much longer to live. And there is nothing that can be done.
After the 4 diners of goat, ibex and yak meat (we are invited in all the houses…), we go back to Haji Roshan’s house. 


He has pain in his right eye. His mum, Ikhbal, comes in and blows water into hot iron which spreads onto his face covered with a cloth. I jump out of my sleeping bag to photograph this – to the laughter of the Kyrgyz – they find my excitement quite hilarious. I go back in bed to read of Kurt Diemberger’s struggles above 8000 meters on K2 – life seems less harsh that way around here… Outside the snow has stopped and the wind is blowing hell. I leave my book aside. We lay in bed talking at length with Malang and Mir Ali - there is a great feeling between the three of us and I am extremely grateful to this growing friendship.

Gear taking a beating


Tajikistan Pamir on iPad - Travel by Handstand


I am excited to have some of my images from my Tajikistan Pamir story featured on an newly launched i-Pad app called Travel by Handstand. Here are a few screen grabs...

Friday, March 23, 2012

National Geographic Field Test from the Wakhan corridor - extra dispatch 1

Last summer, while finishing a commissioned book project across the US, I got a appointment at National Geographic Magazine in Washington, showing my images and proposing a story. 6 months later, in January / February 2011, I left for 5 weeks, on assignment for the magazine. I went to Afghanistan, to the Wakhan corridor and the Pamir mountains, to shoot a winter story on the Afghan Kyrgyz,  a community I have followed on and off for over 10 years. Some of my previous work can be seen on my website here.

I shared some of my personal journals with my editor, and following this, the team asked me if I would like to file reports, from the fields, of my expedition. These would go live on the Field Test page of the National geographic website - a page dedicated to go behind-the-scenes of a National Geographic magazine article. A great, responsive team, headed by Susan Welchman, edited my work before it went up.

I left with quite a bit of technical equipment - I wasn't use to that and had to learn quickly . Apart from all the camera gear (and back-up), I was going with solar panels, batteries, a BGAN to send e-mails, boom pole etc. All this went on the back of 3 sturdy yaks and up the frozen Wakhan river. I was on my own but for the first time out there, I was linked to the outside world. I had gone a long way from my 300km trek through the Wakhan with donkey, on a Postman mission with 1 manual camera and some rolls of film - that was back in summer 2005.


 From smoked in frozen shepherd places at 4200m, exhausted after long days of work, I filed 10 different reports. 6 of them made it up, you can see the first one here - the ones that were really centered on the story. The 4 extras I wanted to share with you.

So this is the first one in a series of 4, unedited - using previously published images from the NGM website:


"Jogging at 4200m"

Another day at Er Ali Boi, father of a 6 days old son. His older daughter feeds the weak lamb twice a day. They are keeping him inside the house for warmth.


It hasn’t yet snowed like I hoped and we mostly have had blue days – but bitter cold with that constant east wind (all the Kyrgyz winter mud houses show their back to the easterly wind). My trekking watch shows -25 in the morning. Ikhbal, our 20 year old bride (see this National Geographic dispatch) is almost ready to move to her husband – wearing a sort of Burka to keep the privilege of her sight for her future husband, a small group take her on horse – I get a chance to test for the second time a long pole on top of which my camera is fixed – getting me fairly quick aerial view. It’s completely hectic – the horses are going at a good trot and our “action team” - my two Wakhi friends Malang and Mir Ali - struggle to keep up with our donkey. I am panting, my heart out of my chest, two of my ribs hurt, I have been plagued by high altitude cough for about 10 days now. I fit better with my surrounding that way – all the Kyrgyz are constantly coughing.

We arrive in the campment of Andemin where the sister of the bride live – here we will spend a day break before heading off again, tagging along the wedding troupe. An old Kyrgyz come and greet me with a wonderful smile and a deep tenor voice. He seems so happy to see me. His name is Abdul Hameed and he was one of the first Kyrgyz I ever met in Misgar valley of Pakistan in, probably, the year 2000. He knows my name and quote my words from over 11 years ago, ask about my wife, about my companions of previous trips etc. What a warm hearted man. “Hey, we are brothers, don’t forget – when you come back here I will have a present ready for your new son” he tells me.


I am always in search of breaking away from sitting around for tea with the men (the main winter activity). Whenever I see someone move, I try to join in. Ismail is leaving on horse to gather the yaks .  After 30 minutes we arrive near the herd and a sheep has just given birth. The lamb lay wet on the ground . I get on a horse and help Ismail rounding up the herd, really feeling like the central Asian cowboy that I am not.
Back in Andemin, I stuck to a corner watching the women – not an easy task – every men entering ask me to please sit at the place of honor, by the fire. Actually, women ask me to do it as well. Anyway, who could be interested in watching women’s work? Toorkhan Bubu is sewing a new shirt for the bride.  I join her outside when the sheep herd comes back – bringing happy lambs to their mothers. The men bring the horse back . The light is almost out – my favorite light for 5 minutes. 


Men have killed a fat sheep - in the cooking yurt, they take it apart, the women cleaning the inner, the goat head – the piece de resistance - roasting on the dung fire. Follows a succession of extremely fatty meat dish – yak meat and goat meat - from one house to another (fortunately there are only 4 houses in this encampment) – it’s a constant “Kutchurup Kelde!”: “Come to eat at my house”. I eat the goat eye, not refusing the dish of honor. I have taken a liking to the soft texture, keeping my mind busy to try and forget what it really is… Between two sessions, I photograph our house and the endless starlit sky – what a spectacle.


In the morning – it’s time to eliminate calories. We are back at the jogging being the bride for the last stretch to the husband’s house. It’s “only” 1 ½ hour away. Shortly before reaching it, the bride and her bride’s maid descend their horse, incline themselves while all the women of the husband’s encampment approach in the distance. They offer some yogurt to their “new” sister and hurry the bride inside a yurt, hiding her behind a large red veil that hangs in the corner.  We spend a night here – I must feed yet on another goat eye. In the morning, the brother in law comes to inquire and in keeping with Kyrgyz tradition (which I am learning along the way…) is getting troubled by the sisters of the bride – a rare display of playful fight, in a society which extremely rarely shows any display of affection, anger or else... Then we are off to Qyzyl Qorum, the “seat” of the current young Khan whose father I knew well and met in 2005 – he died in 2009… let’s see how things are going on out there.



Here in French, en français:

Jogging à 4200m

Il a commencé à neiger légèrement. Très tard dans la nuit j'écris un peu dans la fumerie d'opium de notre hôte Haji Roshan Khan, Qyzyl Qorum. Après 3 semaines dans le Pamir Afghan, tout l'équipement s'est déglingué – les choses s'arrêtent de marcher sans aucune raison, le fusible explose une fois de plus, le chargeur ne charge pas, les générateurs ne démarrent pas… –  je deviens électricien entre les prises de photos.

Va savoir pourquoi, aujourd'hui notre convertisseur semble me donner 220V avec la batterie de la voiture de notre hôte kirghize – bonne nouvelle… Au cours des derniers jours, j'ai préservé ma batterie d'ordinateur pour télécharger les photos et pour la sauvegarde. Retour en arrière : une autre journée chez Er Ali Boi, père d'un fils âgé de 6 jours. Sa fille aînée nourrit un agneau malade deux fois par jour. Ils l'ont gardé à l'intérieur de la maison pour la chaleur. Il n'a pas encore neigé comme je l'espérais, et nous avons surtout eu des jours ensoleillés – mais il fait extrêmement froid avec ce vent d'est constant (toutes les maisons d'hiver kirghizes faites de torchis tournent le dos au vent d'est).

Ikhbal, notre jeune mariée de 20 ans est presque prête à rejoindre son mari – portant une sorte de Burka pour garder le privilège de sa vue à son futur mari. Un petit groupe l'emmène à cheval – j'ai la chance de tester pour la deuxième fois une longue perche téléscopique au sommet de laquelle est fixé mon appareil-photo– me donnant une vue aérienne assez rapide. Les chevaux vont d'un bon trot et notre "équipe de choc" lutte pour suivre avec notre âne. Je n'arrive plus a réspirer, mon cœur sors de ma poitrine, deux de mes côtes me font mal, j'ai été tourmenté par la toux de haute altitude depuis une dizaine de jours. Je corresponds mieux à mon entourage de cette façon – tous les Kirghizes toussent constamment. Le beau- frère s'arrête pour prendre une photo avec son petit portable – bien sûr, il n'y a aucune réception téléphonique, mais depuis un an les kirghizes ont des téléphones qu'ils utilisent pour prendre des photos et écouter des mélodies afghanes hurlantes. Grand contraste.

Nous arrivons au campement d'Andemin où vit la sœur de la mariée – ici nous ferons une journée de pause avant de partir une fois de plus, en suivant le groupe du mariage. Un vieux kirghize arrive et m'accueille avec un merveilleux sourire et une voix de ténor profond. Il semble tellement heureux de me voir. Son nom est Abdul Hameed et il fut un des premiers kirghizes que j'avais rencontré dans la vallée de la Misgar au Pakistan, probablement en 2000. Il connaît mon nom et cite mes mots d'il y a plus de 11 ans, me questionne sur mon épouse, sur mes compagnons de voyages antérieurs etc... Quel homme merveilleux. « Hey, nous sommes frères, ne l'oublies pas – quand tu repasseras ici j'aurai un cadeau prêt pour votre nouveau fils » m'a t'il dit. Nous dormons sur le plancher (il n'y a pas de lits dans le Pamir Afghan) de la maison de Sher Ali – qui prend amoureusement soin de son grand-fils.

Je cherche toujours à éviter d'être assis pendant des heurs pour boire le thé avec les hommes (l'activité principale d'hiver). Quand je vois quelqu'un bouger, j;essaie de me joindre: Ismail part à cheval afin de rassembler les yacks. Après 30 minutes, nous arrivons près du troupeau et un mouton vient juste de mettre bas. L'agneau humide est étendu sur le sol. Je monte sur le cheval et aide Ismail à rassembler le troupeau, me sentant comme un cow-boy d'Asie Centrale que je ne suis pas! De retour au campement d'Andemin, je me mets dans un coin en regardant les femmes – pas une tâche facile – tous les hommes qui entrent me demandent de bien vouloir passer à la place d'honneur, près du feu. En fait, les femmes me demandent de le faire aussi. De toute façon, qui pourrait bien être intéressé à regarder le travail des femmes ?

Toorkhan Bubu est en train de coudre une nouvelle chemise pour la mariée. Je prends un portrait « classique » – elle a un très joli visage. Je la rejoins à l'extérieur lorsque revient le troupeau de moutons– apportant des agneaux heureux à leurs mères. Les hommes ramènent le cheval. Il n'y a presque plus de lumière – ma lumière préférée pendant 5 minutes – les 2 sœurs marchent au loin pour mettre la main sur un âne égaré. Les hommes ont tué un mouton gras - il le prépare dans la yourte. Les femmes nettoient les intérieurs. Un homme fait rôtir la tête de chèvre – la pièce de résistance - sur le feu de bouse. Suit une succession de plat de viande extrêmement gras – viande de yak et viande de chèvre – d'une maison à l'autre (heureusement il n'y a que 4 maisons dans ce campement) – c'est une constante « Kutchurup Kelde! »: « Viens manger chez moi ». Je mange l'œil de chèvre, ne refusant pas le plat de l'honneur. J'ai pris goût à sa texture douce, gardant mon esprit occupé à essayer d'oublier ce que c'est vraiment … Entre deux séances, je photographie notre maison et le ciel étoilé sans fin – quel spectacle …

Le matin – il est temps d'éliminer les calories. Nous sommes de nouveau la à courir derrière notre équipée chevaline. La fiancée approche de la maison du mari. C'est « seulement » à 1½ heure. Peu de temps avant d'y arriver, la mariée et sa demoiselle d'honneur descendent de leur cheval, s'inclinent tandis que toutes les femmes du campement du mari s'approchent. Elles offrent du yoghourt à leur "nouvelle" sœur et mettent la mariée à l'intérieur d'une yourte, la cachant derrière un grand voile rouge qui pend dans le "coin". Nous passons une nuit ici – je dois manger encore un autre œil de chèvre. Le matin, le beau-frère vient se renseigner et selon la tradition kirghize (que j'apprends à connaitre tout au long du chemin) il est constamment taquiné par les sœurs de la mariée – un occasion rare de voir des interactions homme/ femme, dans une société qui montre très rarement tout signe d'affection, de colère ou autre... Puis nous partons vers Qyzyl Qorum, le « siège » du jeune Khan actuel dont je connaissais bien le père et l'ai rencontré en 2005 et 2008 – il est décédé en Décembre 2009… Nous allons voir comment ça se passe là-bas.


 La jeune mariée pleure... Cérémonie du voile blanc. Fevrier 2012. All images ©Matthieu Paley

Sunday, March 18, 2012

National Geographic dispatches from Afghanistan's Pamir mountains


While on assignment for National Geographic magazine last January / February 2012 in the Pamir mountains of Afghanistan, I sent dispatches of my trip back to the team in Washington using a BGAN. The edited dispatches - a personal description with text and images of my winter expedition - came out on the Field Test pages of the National Geographic website.

You can see all 6 of them here. Here is a screen shot of one of them:


In the next few days I will be putting some unedited disptaches that didn't make it up on the National Geographic website - I don't want them to get lost in my computer... -  Stay tuned!

Soft Power, or the geopolitical impact of Turkish Soap Operas and Dramas


I was fortunate enough to shoot a story for Monocle last October, here at home in Istanbul - it came out last December as the leading story in the magazine, main theme being "Soft Power". The topic was Turkish Soap Operas and its geopolitical impact world wide. I was thrilled as I had just pitched that story to another magazine a month earlier or so.


Turkish drama television series and soap operas are seen by 25 to 30 million people weekly (!) in Turkey and have become pop-culture phenomenon abroad, especially in the Arab world, Eastern Europe, Middle East but also all across Africa. In Saudi Arabia, Gumus's final episode (a popular Turkish melodrama) attracted a record 85 million Arab viewers when it aired in August 2011...


On the first day of the assignment, I met up with the producers and distributors of some famous Turkish Soap Operas - office shots... Not my favorite, but it was quite striking to see the world map on the wall with all the places where Turkish TV series had been sold...


On the second day, I was on set nearby my house, on the shooting of Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki ("As Time goes by"), the current hit of Turkish drama television series. The series got many awards and broke several viewer records with a continuous weekly market share of 50- 60 % - that's Huge.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hectic life and publications

I was told couple of years ago that a photographer should 1/do editorial work 2/gallery work and 3/books. Not really realizing it, I followed this advice - after almost 10 years living of being almost strictly an editorial photographer, the timing was right. Now life is slightly more hectic but equally as stimulating.

The last month has been a mad scramble between 1/ preparing for a long job in Afghanistan next month 2/ preparing and editing 2 solo exhibitions that will happen here in Istanbul right after my expedition to Afghanistan and 3/ giving structure to a book that will come out next summer.  Oh, and I also been working on a completely new website over the last 6 months. I am trying to fill it with nicely captioned / key worded images. This has been difficult -  it represent a huge amount of work - I could lock myself for a year now and only do that. It's been difficult enough that I have been on a serious hunt to finding an assistant the last 2 weeks. No luck so far...

Here a couple of publications that came out this month, in December 2011.

My story on Nauru is out in the german edition of Geo. Below is the opening spread, of the Civic center. A long story in the making on the world's smallest republic, that was an exhibition in France last year - I shot the story exactly 1 year ago. This is the opening spread:


In the french edition of Geo, I have a story on Nomadic America - shot last summer as part of my book "Dans les Roues de Kerouac - Portraits d'une Amérique Nomade" Editions de la Martinière- and in anticipation of the soon to be release screen adaptation of "On the Road" by Kerouac - produced by Coppola and shot by Walter Salles. Here 2 chosen spreads from this story:



Also in Tatler, I am the featured photographer of their 10 pages gallery section. Here is one of them...


Finally, I have a spread in the current edition of Conde Nast Traveler in the US. The "Where are you" section. And don't hassle me to ask me where it is... but you can always try to bribe me.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crazy summer of road tripping!

Yes, it has been 4 months since I didn't sit down on my blog! Shame, shame, shame!!

Here is a quick recap on an intense summer: early June our second son Timoté was born at the minute the sun rose over Istanbul, our new home. It's apparently called an heliacal birth.
A couple of weeks of family bonding and I was off on a long awaited 4 weeks trip across the US, east to West - "The road to Kerouac; Portaits of a Nomadic America" (published by La Martinière ). The book (208 pages) landed on my editor's lap a few days ago, and should be available in stores soon in France. Here are some snap shots of the book - I will do a proper Blog entry when it is officially available:



An article on this very topic will come out in Géo (French edition) in December 2011.

After this cross-country non-stop adventure, I spent a few days in Washington (meeting with National Geographic magazine), and then 5 days in New York. That didn't help slow down anything, but it was great to see old friends and to just re-immersed myself in this brilliant city. I lived there almost 4 years in the late 90's. 10 years I hadn't been there. The smells, feels and looks haven't changed much expect for this Williamsburg hipster frame-less glasses phenomenon...

I flew back to Europe to re-unite to family and hit the ground driving from Rouen, France, in Normandy, to Berlin - I was close to 9000 Km already from mid-June, my bum was sore. Berlin was really a great feel. About 10 different languages heard in the street every 5 minutes, and just a general good humored feel. To me, the most cosmopolitan city of Europe. Maybe one day I live there.

From Berlin, I drove to Munich in time to catch a plane to Tajikistan - via Istanbul ironically - back to the Tajik Pamir for a story on "seed hunting". Have a look at this guy. We drove much again, I became experimental with my shooting from the window, mainly to kill time.


Back in Munich - I drove to South of France to attend Perpignan's Visa pour l'Image. 3 days was just the perfect amount of mingling, sharing work and yes, partying.
Back in Istanbul, just in time to enjoy the end of summer. The city seduces me and there are interesting stories around. After a trip to Hatay, on the Syrian border, I came back to Istanbul to shoot a story on the geopolitical importance of.... TV dramas in Turkey and the middle east. Great stuff that I will keep on working on for a while I hope.

I am now in Hong Kong for 3 weeks - to attend to my solo exhibition on Mongolia. Here is the link to the gallery, and below the invitation... Opening is tomorrow Tuesday 25th October 2011 at 6pm:
Picture This gallery
Suite 1308, 13th Floor
9 Queen's Road, Central
Hong Kong

If you are in the area, come and catch me!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Book project across the USA: On the road to Kerouac - Sur la Route de Kerouac - Coppola et Walter Salles

 
 I have been absent of that blog for a bit – one main reason being is I just became dad for the 2nd time and so time sort of stopped around the birth of Timoté, who was born at the exact time the sun rose over Istanbul, on June 4th. There are no words…

Currently in New York, I am about to embark on what should be a great 4 weeks journey across the US. I studied photography in NY in the late nineties, was briefly back in 2001, but not since then. It’s an incredible thrill to be back here in the US– and especially to come and photograph this country, East to West.

What’s the story? Well… the story is the road, the story is itinerant America, the quest for home or the feeling of it, the enlightened, the modern nomadic America – for ideology or by necessity.
This is a book project, commissioned by famed French publisher La Martinière, as well as a 52mn documentary produced by Gédéon in Paris. Preparations have been going on for several months – we were lucky to have a great fixer in New York who helped us organize this journey. It has been quite a puzzle to put together.

What’s the reason for this project? Well, the famous book from Jack Kerouac “On the Road” has been adapted to the screen and will come out as a movie next December, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles.
Writer, director and traveler Christophe Cousin and I proposed the idea to La Martinière of revisiting the “On the road” ideology across the US and make a book out of it – to be published at the time the movie comes out. It’s good to know we both have been fascinated by Kerouac’s writings.
What is the legacy of the Beat movement in nowadays America? We will spend time with the people and in the places that so inspired Kerouac and the other Beat authors. Cameraman Fitz Jego will come along as well, for a documentary that will be aired on Canal + in December.

Of course the work still need to be done and I hope to find time to write a bit about it on my blog now and then – probably from the motel room or the diner that will be my home and kitchen for the next month.
Hobos, wagon cowboys, Christian wandering preachers, Indian shepherds, rainbow gatherers etc. There is a nice interesting bunch waiting out for us.

On a personal note, this project falls right at the time when I have been thinking a lot about “what is home” – especially with my recent move from Hong Kong to Istanbul, which has shuffle my life around quite a bit. Staying “nomadic” with a young family is a challenge that puts you to the test. Should I even consider buy a home? And if so, where? Where is my home? Ubi bene Patria as they say: “Home is where you feel happy”…



The road keep going - Hitchiking along the Turkey-Iran border, winter 2000.
La route continue – tentative d'auto-stop le long de la frontière Irano-Turque, hiver 2000.

FRENCH:
J’ai été absent de ce blog depuis un petit moment – la raison principale est l’arrivée  de mon 2eme fils – le temps c’est arrêté autour de la naissance de Timoté, né à la minute ou le soleil se levait sur Istanbul le 4 Juin. C’est incroyable…

Je suis en ce moment à New York, au seuil d’un voyage de 4 semaines à travers les USA. J’ai fait mes études de photo à New York à la fin des années 90, suis revenu brièvement en 2001, mais pas depuis. C’est vraiment stimulant de revenir aux US – surtout dans le but de photographier ce pays, d’Est en Ouest.

Sur quelle histoire vais-je travailler ? ET bien… sur l’histoire de la route, de l’Amérique itinérante, la recherche de sa patrie, ce sentiment d’appartenance à un lieu, les illuminés, l’Amérique moderne nomade – par idéologie ou nécessité.
C’est un projet de livre commissionné par les éditions de la Martinière, enplus d’un documentaire de 52mn produit par Gédéon à Paris. Cela fait plusieurs mois que nous préparons le voyage – nous avons sur place à New York une fixeuse qui nous aide beaucoup. Notre périple est un vrai casse-tête à organiser.

Pourquoi ce projet ? Et bien, le fameux livre « Sur la Route » de Jack Kerouac a été adapté au grand écran et sortira en Décembre prochain, produit par Francis Ford Coppola et dirigé par Walter Salles.
L’écrivain voyageur et réalisateur Christophe Cousin et moi-même proposons l’idée à La Martinière de revisiter l’idéologie de « Sur la Route » à travers les Etats-Unis et en fiare un livre – qui sortira au moment de la sortie du film en salle.  Il est bon à savoir que ce livre nous a tous deux beaucoup marqué.
Quel est l’héritage de la génération Beat dans les Etats-Unis d’aujourd’hui ? Nous allons nous attarder chez les gens et les lieux qui ont tant inspiré Kerouac. Et d’autres auteurs Beat. Le Cameraman Fitz Jego se joint à nous pour filmer un documentaire qui sera diffusé sur Canal + en Décembre.

Il ne reste plus qu’a avaler des kilomètres. Je compte écrire pendant notre périple, probablement du motel ou du diner qui seront ma maison et ma cuisine pour les 4 semaines à venir.
Les hobos, cowboys wagons, itinérant prêcheur Chrétiens, bergers Indiens,  Famille de l’Arc en ciel etc. Il y a du drôle monde qui nous attend.

D’un point de vue personnel, ce projet arrive à un moment dans ma vie ou cette question de l’appartenance à un lieu me travaille beaucoup – surtout après ce déménagement récent de Hong Kong à Istanbul qui a un peu chamboulé ma vie. Garder un mode de vie « nomadique »  avec une jeune famille est un vrai challenge. Dois-je penser a l’achat du maison ? Mais ou ? Ou est cette patrie ? Ubi ben Patria comme on dit : « La maison c’est là ou tu es heureux »…

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nauru, the world's smallest country, once world's richest country, now with world's highest diabetes rate.


I was on French radio recently. An interview by Régis Picart, the chief editor of France Info, about my assignment in Nauru that was recently exhibited. I like how Regis summarized the situation in his write-up titled "The Eldorado of diabetes". Nauru, once the world's richest country, has now the world's highest diabetes rate.

Hear it and see it by clicking here.

Je suis passé à la radio récemment. Un interview de Régis Picard, rédacteur en chef de France Info, à propos de mon reportage à Nauru, exposé au festival Photo de Mer. J'aime la manière dont Régis a résumé la situation dans son article intitulé "L'eldorado des diabétiques". Nauru, un temps le pays le plus riche au monde, a maintenant le taux de diabète le plus élevé au monde.

______

We passed with a car and I saw that man below in a cemetery in the distance. I walked to him and he welcomed me with a smile. I pushed away a mechanism that was telling me I should look sad for him. He was in fact a happy man, smiling all the way telling me a bit of his and his wife's love history. I love this kind of moments, be it tainted with death or not.

Nous sommes passés en voiture et j'ai vu cet homme au loin dans un cimetière. J'ai marché vers lui et il m'a sourit. J'ai repoussé un de ces mécanismes qui me disait que je devais prendre l'air triste. En fait, c'était un homme souriant, qui n'arrêta pas de sourire, tout en me rancontant sa vie amoureuse, de sa femme et lui. J'adore ce genre de moments, qu'il soit teind de mort ou pas.



Christmas is getting close. Jeffrey Garo uses the opportunity to repaint the tomb of his wife Nebaida, who passed away in 2004. “You know, here we call it the silence killer. Everyday people die on the island. No need to ask, it’s always diabetes…” Arrived from the islands of Tuvalu during the wave of immigration in the 60’s, Jeffrey fell in love and never left the island.

Noël approche. Jeffrey Garo en profite pour repeindre la tombe de sa femme Nebaida, qui est décédée en 2004. "Vous savez, ici on l'appele le tueur silencieux. Tout les jours des gens meurent. Y a pas besoin de demander: c'est toujours le diabète...". Arrivé des îles Tuvalu pendant la vague d'immigration dans les années 60, Jeffrey est tombé amoureux et n'est jamais reparti...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Matthieu Paley sur France 2 - I was on TV...


I am hard at work trying to find a solution for a new website - as most of us now know, Flash = Satan - so I need to revert to html, only for referencing purposes, so that my entire site can be searchable (it's far from being the case now), so that the site shows up in iphone/ipad etc... To host it, I have been considering Photoshelter, PhotoDeck, Neon Sky, Livebooks etc. It's getting my head in - but it's important I move back to html.

A few days ago, I was on french television (France 2) for an interview on my ongoing exhibition on Nauru and on the festival in general. I am not good at show biz, but Here it is. It gives an insight of the outdoor exhibition space, which was really well done I thought. It's a few minutes.

Je suis passé à la télé, sur France 2 il y a quelques jours - à propos de mon exposition sur Nauru et sur le festival en général. Vous pouvez visionné ça ici.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Supernatural creatures of the mountains - les créatures surnaturelles des montagnes


They are named Jinn and they often come out at night. They like remote mountain valleys too. My first "encounter" with them was in Kachura village, in Pakistan's Karakoram mountains, during a full moon night.

Here is a two-part edited short story about Jinn's (and epilepsy...) in Afghanistan's Wakhan region by my friend and Afghan Kyrgyz expert © Ted Callahan:

"One night, as I’m writing up the day’s fieldnotes, Orunbai, a son of the Khan, comes to my tent.

“Sorry to bother you, Temir-aka, but my wife is sick. It might be a jinn, but we’re not sure.”

I’ve been wondering about traditional healing practices among the Afghan Kyrgyz, since I have yet to see any evidence of it, and eagerly follow Orunbai to his house. Inside, I find Kyrgol, his wife, keeled over, complaining of severe abdominal pain and moaning as she grasps her stomach.

...They decide that... they will try to drive the jinn out themselves. First, one of the women brings over a loaf of round, flat bread with two candles lit in the middle of it. This is passed in front of the sick woman three times, while chants are muttered. Then, this same woman brings over some embers from the fire and, putting them in front of Kyrgol, fans the smoke towards her. Finally, one of the men takes a rock which has been sitting atop the stove, wrapped it in a red cloth, and moves it back in forth in front of Kyrgol’s stomach, though without actually touching her.

Curious, I feign ignorance and ask why they are doing this. I am simply told, “For the jinn.”

When my turn comes, I give her some painkillers and antacids. The next day, Kyrgol is fine. Opinion is split over whether it really was a jinn or just, as I suggest, indigestion. We agree to let the question of what the problem might have been rest."
______


"One Wakhi shepherd at the Khan’s camp, Mirza, suffers from epilepsy, a common condition in the Wakhan owing to close intermarriage. Often, around dinnertime, he would rise, walk over to a corner, lie down, and suffer an epileptic seizure. I assumed that everyone knew he had epilepsy and that he simply endured his condition because no medicine was available.

One day, I asked Mirza whether he had sought treatment for his condition.

“Yes, I have visited several bakshy ( - ed: in Kyrgyz community, Bakshy are male shaman with healing powers) in the Wakhan but they have not been able to help me.” he answered.

Surprised, I asked, “Wait, what do you think your problem is?”

“I have a jinn” he replied, as if it were obvious. "

Text ©Ted Callahan