“I’ve never seen such strength in people”: An Interview with Photographer Jérôme Sessini
Keywords:Jérôme Sessini, Magnum Photos, photojournalism
Jérôme Sessini is a French photographer, and member of Magnum Photos, in his works covers some of the most significant historical events of the last 30 years. The interview was recorded in January 2023 by Valeriia Shulha, a student of the Art History Department of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
In the first part of the interview, Jérôme talks about the beginning of his career as an amateur photographer and American documentary photographers as his big inspiration. He started photography at the age of 23 and now he’s a leading photojournalist, having joined Magnum in 2012 and becoming a full member in 2016. Jérôme's lens covers political upheaval, social uprisings, and human struggle. He’d started working as a photojournalist in 1998 when he covered the conflict in Kosovo on behalf of the Gamma photo agency. Since then, he has been immersed in some of the most important events of recent years, including the war in Iraq (from 2003 to 2008), Aristide’s fall in Haiti (2004), the conquest of Mogadishu by the Islamic militias, and the war in Lebanon (2006). His works have one common feature - avoiding dry documentation, they’re picturing stories of ordinary people, to show the world’s social tragedies on a micro-scale.
In the second part of interview the photographer explains why Ukraine is the most important project for him and shares his experience of documenting the events of modern Ukrainian history. In 2014, Sessini began covering events in Ukraine since the Revolution of Dignity. After the Maidan’s events, the photographer traveled throughout Ukraine for several years and gathered in his book "Inner Disorder" all the stories of Ukrainian’s lives ruined by the war. The photo book was published in 2021. Jérôme's work Final Fight for Maidan won the World Press Photo Awards in 2015. Sessini shares the story behind the creation of this image. A few days after the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Sessini arrived in Ukraine, working on a series of photos for magazines such as "The New Yorker". Jérôme Sessini explains that the main aim for him is to create a coherent narrative in his works. The photographer always has been trying to communicate with the people he photographs. According to Jérôme, the only way to convey something to his audience is to feel and experience what you’re photographing.
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