Photographers have been on the frontlines of France’s recent protests, documenting the intense scenes in the nation with some of the most notable uprisings in Western history.
Protests erupted over the weekend after four police officers were shown on security footage beating a Black music producer in Paris.
Much like in other countries, France and its officials have been forced to reckon with its ongoing history of racism and police violence. Or, in the ignorant and powerful’s case, forced to ignore it.
But there is much more to the protests that have rallied tens of thousands of Franks to the streets. A provision in article 24 of a new security bill under review by the French Parliament could restrict the sharing of images of police officers.
Naturally, the provision has come under fire from journalistic institutions, advocates of free speech, and those who denounce racism and call for full transparency.
The most recent case of police brutality has only exacerbated the cries for justice from the people, and France’s photographers have been there at nearly every moment of the protests to show the people, both domestically and internationally, what is going on.
So, here are five photographers risking their lives for transparent and crucial content amidst France’s ongoing protests.
Kiran Ridley is a Paris-based photojournalist who operates throughout Europe and Asia. For Getty Images, he has chronicled some of the most shocking and representative photos of France’s protests.
The French Government’s Global Security Law has upset much of the country, and the year widely known for protesting corrupt government measures and racism internationally, continues on with activists calling for justice.
Ridley has shot around the Place de la Bastille, the Place de la République, and many more places just in the last week. But he is an award-winning photographer focused on more than France, on issues in news, social political topics and the human experience.
Ameer Alhalbi is a name that has been widely circulating this week. He is a Syrian award-winning photographer that was wounded in a protest in Paris.
The protest and his devastating injury forced him to suffer a “heavy shock” that reawakened memories from the civil war in his home country. Working for the press company Agence France-Press (AFP), Alhalbi was on the scene documenting the action.
But trapped for several hours with head wounds unable to get to the hospital, Alhalbi was brought back to harrowing memories of his time in Aleppo for AFP, where he won several international awards for his work as a photojournalist.
Rallying cries against injustice are globally signaled, and then globally heard. France’s protests are understood more clearly by people around the world because of photographers like Alhalbi.
Benoit Tessier is a French photographer for Reuters. On his profile on the worldwide publication’s site, he says,
“I like challenges and first times.”Benoit Tessier
He is certainly getting what he’s bargained for then, with the new and difficult circumstances surrounding France right now. He is not just a French photographer capturing a protest. This is a monumental time in the country’s history surrounding topics of racism, police brutality, and free speech.
Tessier has photographed many more events than the recent protests, but no doubt this experience feels new, and thus, intimidating.
But it is that courage and pursuit of the new and challenging that makes photographers and their dedication for the perfect shot so special. And for that, we applaud and commend France’s protest photographers in the trenches right now.
Like Tessier, Gonzalo Fuentes is a photographer for Reuters in France. Capturing politics, sports, society and everything in between, Fuentes is another French photographer documenting the current protests.
It is through the dedicated work of Fuentes and others that the rest of the world gets insight into the current circumstances of France. In a globalized world, impacts felt in one country reverberate like a shockwave throughout the rest of the globe.
There is no greater evidence of this than the Black Lives Matter movement and calls against police brutality this past Summer from the U.S. to the UK to France to New Zealand to countless others along the way.
Francois Mori is a contributing photographer for the Associated Press. He has been extremely active in documenting the intense and ongoing protests taking place in France.
Much like his contemporaries, Mori photographs many things off of the streets. His Instagram is filled with landscape photography, art, nature, and sports. But as all great photographers know, the outside world dictates where you run to next.
Nothing is preordained. In life and day-to-day photography.
Thus, the protests in France beg for the best photographers to flock to the streets and capture the moments of peril, bravery, and camaraderie.
It’s not just France, photographers are the visual conduits for protests all over the world
I cannot help but be inspired by a group of professionals both within my field of study and somehow outside of it. To capture a moment, one fleeting visual, that can embody a day, a year, a movement is as impressive a task as anything in my sphere of thinking.
It is through these photographers, Kiran Ridley, Ameer Alhalbi, Benoit Tessier, Gonzalo Fuentes, Francois Mori, and many more like them, that the world hears the people of France’s cries. Hears, truly, for a picture captures more than a thousand words.
Much of France is crying out in their protests for the government and the rest of the world to hear, and photographers are the conduit for which it can reach us.
The question remains, for President Macron as much as for all of us: will we listen?