Visiting Impressions Bab El Mandab,Where re the World Connect

The Startling Worlds Of

Eric Lafforgue

Written by:Khalid Alkainaey

Five years ago, no one really knew Eric Lafforgue in the world of photography. He started taking photographs in 2006 as a traveler and published his pictures on the internet. But his success has been startlingly rapid. Soon after first posting his pictures on the website Flickr he began to get professional commissions, and within just a few years he has come to be regarded as one of the world’s best travel photographers. Yahoo’s Flickr Stunned Even the advent of today’s fast moving, ever-changing digital world of quick Web access, smart phones and tablet devices, is not quite well enough to explain the achievements of Eric in the world of

photography. He published the pictures he took as a traveler of places and faces on a website that has tens of millions of images and tens of thousands of photographers. But why was he to become one of the most prominent members of Flickr attracting thousands of users in such a short time. That itself amazed the website staff and they started looking for answers too. They published the interview they made with Eric on the same website,. Yet, it didn’t provide any real answers to what was behind this stunning success. Later on, Yahoo made another interview with Eric but questions seemed to be concentrated on getting Eric’s recognition and appreciation of Yahoo’s and Flickr’s role in his spectacular success.

Those questions lead to obtaining his assurance to continue publishing and posting his photographs on Flickr. mytripsmypics/ That only demonstrated how significant were Eric’s photographs to one of the top three sites on the planet, but still nothing much to explain what was behind Eric’s amazingly rapid success. So I decided to contact Eric in search for the valuable answer I was eager to get. The Secrets of Success “How did you achieve such a remarkable success in the world of photography in a very short period?”



Eric: “Well, I took pictures in Papua New Guinea in a style that was ‘new’ and many magazines such as Geo, Nat Geo, etc loved them, so they took them! I cover destinations which are not well covered by tourists and travelers such as Eritrea, Libya, Vanuatu, Danakil, etc, which gave me a much better advantage with Magazines than if I was covering places like Paris, London or New York! Finally, I kept using in much of my works a ‘Raw Format’, which offers the opportunity to digitally develop the pictures, giving much more of the real colors and atmosphere in print outs. I think that this is very important,

as much of the photographers tried to keep using films until recently, while using films doesn’t offer the same range of capabilities and possibilities”. Certainly , the answer was not sufficient, at least to me. I am not much into technical issues. Although, I am convinced that today’s technologies are making part of the difference, especially in terms of quality. Yet, I am much more interested in knowing ‘the role of the photographer’ in creating fabulous pictures. An everlasting question that has been repeatedly discussed and analyzed since the first beginnings including paintings on the walls of caves,

sculptures, photography of water/oil, leading to modern photography and what is known today as fine arts photography. The role of the photographer It’s the role that Eric performed perfectly, which ended by publishing his pictures on Flickr website and succeeded to attract hundreds of thousands of users if not millions. Those pictures that offered a source of inspiration for many because they represented an exceptional event in the community of digital photography. I will not be involved in any kind of criticism as I am not up to that, and I will not discuss


anything related to technical terminology, style and/or philosophical concepts, color, etc. .. not because any of that isn’t important, but because Eric is simply not familiar with them either. I don’t believe that creative artists -since creativity and artistry were introduced- had ever known them. The real artist is always one or two steps ahead of the critics. The Incredible Achievement: Taking The Lead In Such A Short Period All notable photographers that I have came across had anything between ten and fifty years of a career in the art of photography. I never heard about any great photographer that wasn’t a professional for ten years at least. Yet, today, I can confidently take a risk in stating a new fact in Al-Yemenia Magazine, which is the first printed Arab Airline magazine, confirming that ‘Eric Lafourgh has become one of the world’s top travel photographers within just four years of extraordinary creativity in the art of photography’. Eric Lafforgue was born in 1964 and lives in Toulouse, France. Ever since he was young, he has been fascinated by far away countries and travelling, and spent some time in Africa, unknowingly retracing Monfried and Joseph Kessels footsteps when he was 10 years old in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. Following a trip to Papua New Guinea, Kubik took notice of his work and published a book containing his photos. Soon after, magazines from all over the world began using his work for illustrations on North Korea, the tribes of Ethiopia, etc. Eric Lafforgue spends most of his time travelling and sharing his encounters on the web. He is passionate about the places he visits and is particularly interested in regions or populations in danger, and the road lesstravelled. His work has been published in Time Magazine, National Geographic, The New York Times, CNN Traveller, BBC, Sunday Times, Lonely Planet, GEO, International Herald Tribune, Corriere Della Sera, Le Monde, The Times, La Stampa, India Today, and Afar. What are you looking for, by traveling with your cameras around the world? Eric: I just try to show the beauty of the world and the characters of the people. Some photographers tend to show poverty or pain, I have chosen to show the other side! Photos taken by Eric for Yemen are not the finest in his album but those taken in Guinea, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Libya,

Eritrea and some other countries are really breathtaking as described by admirers. However, the pictures of Yemen reveal his trend in the art of photography and the simplicity which happens to be one of the secrets behind the brilliance of his works. The Talent Of Creating Joy And Pleasure Another remarkable characteristic of Eric’s talent could be explained through his photo for a girl with a veil who is supposed to avoid the camera lens. Yet, amazingly, the snapshot reflects a visible smile with genuine pleasure behind that veil and a sparkle of glamour in her eyes. This ability to create pleasure is yet another exclusive secret of this exceptional and wonderful photographer who was repeatedly asked about it. I myself asked him a similar question, “How do you succeed to make all those people around the world look so happy in

front of your camera?” Eric: “I first try to have some time with them. It’s not always easy, as I do not speak many languages, but I think it is extremely inappropriate to go, shoot, and leave! I usually give a lot of Polaroids too, people are always happy to have a picture!” Well that’s truly a straight and simple creative innovation with no complications in a world full of theories that only bring more complications and chaos. This fabulous photographer is also a poet too, composing poems with passion through faces by his camera. That is another exclusive feature that makes him distinguished in his ability to communicate the message through photos very effectively; such as revealing the sorrow of a deserted mud building standing anywhere in the world until Eric comes to get it out of its isolation and stillness or even communicating the expressions on an old


man’s face anywhere else, and whether it’s a place or a face, they are all living and communicating in his world of photography. But here too, we approach the most difficult question again, what does this creative photographer do to us? That is what he does to those in Yemen. It is not easy to portray people here, there are customs and traditions that apply and the least among these is the misunderstanding that could arise. That ‘misunderstanding’ led a woman to strike my hand with a stick while I was taking a picture of a female shepherd at el Dhabab district of Taiz. That shepherd was an old woman aged 60 years at least. Yet, a creative photographer could overcome such barriers because what he does with his camera is more than merely recording a moment or using light and color. A “Self-taught” photographer Eric also reveals that he never got any professional advice and that he decided to take photos the way he thought appropriate and publish and send them to editors and magazines when he started his track a couple of years ago. It’s not amazing to know that the advice he offers to other photographers is: “Do what

you like, as photography, if you want to become a pro, requires a lot of work: legend, tags, keywords, stories etc… It’s a full time job: so do what you like to enjoy.” You can spend a great lot of time browsing through the Award Winning Artist, Eric Lafforgue>s online photo galleries. The photos that always boast rich travelling experience and deep knowledge of the cultures of the places where he took them. Eric believes that travelling provides great opportunities for the traveler to see things in a very different way. To experience things differently. He thinks that reality is very much different from what you see through television screens and what you hear through media. The best way to reveal the truth is to see through your eyes and communicate your vision through photography in the way he does. He goes hunting for his ideas, searching for what he thinks would be interesting to people. He says that the chance he had to travel and live abroad with his parents at his childhood contributes to the way he looks to the world. Through his photographs you realize how much we humans are very different from one another and at the same time, you feel

that we are so much similar. That is just some of the astonishing characters of his luminous works. Transforming The World Into A Studio A real magician is capable of stirring a sense of amusement and joy that is reflected on the faces of people, while it’s quite difficult to find that kind of joy in pictures coming out of camera-equipped studios. Here is another reason to show admiration for what Eric achieved in such a short period. He made the vast open world a studio of his own where he could make portraits as he may wish, isn’t that another form of magic? In such a setting, the artist’s world is truly one of a free creation coming from intuition directly. Thus, the Art of Photography does not lie in the equipment. It lies in the photographers eye of the mind. It’s an approach to personal expression and the capability of communicating ideas. That is to express the artist’s perceptions and emotions and to share them with others. A new breed of photography I have always wondered how I would look through Eric’s camera, because I never remember smiling for a camera. Would Eric


be able to overcome that? Perhaps in such a case, I might get closer to revealing the secret of the sense of joy and pleasure Eric creates wherever he goes when he takes shots. This might happen as soon as he longs for Yemen and comes back one day. He humbly says with much of the simplicity that we are familiar with, and love very much: “I see Yemen as a very welcoming country, far from the image that might be promoted erroneously through media. As I have been to Yemen when I was a kid, I was 9, I met people with strong traditions, all with big guns, but smiling and taking care of me when visiting the villages! Since then, I have visited Yemen Five or Six times to see the diversity of the country: Paradise Islands, Deserts, Architecture, UNESCO towns ... I think Yemen has the best preserved culture in the Arabic world, and it has to maintain it in the future. In my world, Yemen’s presence is very strong, even my wife has fallen in love with this country too. She has been there 16 times! So we share the same passion! We just need to go to Soqotra and discover it. It’s the last place where we haven’t been!” In front Of The Camera, Not Behind It: Finally, I am well confident by now that the camera and the equipment are not what produce those wonderful albums that we browse on the website: It’s only the artist who creates such beauty. I also became convinced that Eric Lafforgue does not stand behind the camera, but in front of it. I can not imagine him as any other photographer hiding behind the camera, looking through the lens towards the world, but I find him on the opposite side, standing in front of the camera, stretching his hand to the world in a friendly invitation to enter through a new lens to the world of marvelous photography. It is the world of Eric Lafforgue. Speaking about him never ends easily, despite his usual extraordinary simplicity. That’s why I can’t introduce him quickly in this limited space. It is better to leave his camera speak and let the picture reflect what it has in the epic of exceptional photography. What a difference here between taking pictures for the world for the sake of happiness and photographing the world in a creative work beyond the borders of cultures, ethnic and language barriers. I cannot find a counterpart for this artist except in the world of music of Yanni made for one world and

work is without doubt the best I’ve seen on Flickr by a long way and it inspires me - thank you” bob: davis “If one day you need to see how the world is, how people can be different and similar at the same time, how life flows all around this Planet and specially, if one day you need to spend hours watching and enjoying the Best Photography, then this is the place for that, Eric’s Photography is as full of life as the real world is, strongly recommended for every Photography and Humans lovers. Thanks for sharing this with us, thanks for teaching us how a great Photographer must be. “ Fotonstudio “Eric’s photostream is a must, here on Flickr .... he has the ability to capture the very essence of people and their culture in a way that no one else does ... after viewing his stream (his North Korea set, for example) you have seen not only what the country looks like, but much more importantly, come to understand something of the life and hopes of the individuals he photographs. A combination of greal skill, a wonderful eye and the ability to capture the perfect moment makes Eric’s photostream my favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon.. VinaPix “I have been associated with photography since 1965, as a learner, as a photographer, as a teacher and as a Semi-professional. I have participated in camera clubs and various competitions and have seen many photographs that could equal Eric’s images but I have rarely seen the work of a photographer that is so consistently great as the work of Eric Lafforgue. The images he has made of various countries and the people of those countries show tremendous quality and cause me to be in awe. Flickr is well represented by this photographer. “ Rbracy1943 “Eric’s photography is what I would like my photography to be one day. He is nothing but inspiration threw his lens. He shows us the beauty that life has to offer threw the colors and many faces of the world. Eric I tip my hat to you. Your photography is amazing and inspiring to the world of photographers. Robert Lio

the whole world, a world of love and what humanity can share through audio pleasure. Eric’s world is also opening up a world of cultural and visual comfort. There is no room for lifeless things. Everything has a spirit, even the old buildings and narrow neighborhoods. Everything reflects its inside even the solid rocks, and that is what Eric is searching for as an exceptional artist, and there he builds a unique, real, inspiring world which is full of fascinating delight and surprise. An Extra Ordinary Photographer From His Testimonials: “Sometimes words aren’t enough. Your


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