Cambodia felt like it was the right time and place to launch my photo project – Brake for a portrait.
“What photo project? You take photos all the time already!”.
Yes, this is very true. I take quite a lot of pictures for myself. The big difference here being that I won’t be taking pictures for my personal collection but mainly for them. And by “them”, I refer to locals on my way, who brighten my travels every day.
Thanks to an ink-free mobile printer and thermal paper, I will take portraits of specific people along the way, print them and give them to these people as a surprise. Did you ever wonder why on my logo there is a green picture blowing out of my front saddlebag? Well, there you have it! While this little gesture may sound ordinary, I expect some reactions to be extraordinary.
The whole idea came up when I was trying to find a way to give something back despite my constraints in terms of load and volume. The trigger probably was my feeling of embarrassment when, back in Madagascar two years ago, I took pictures of people before walking away. Although I often showed them the result on the screen, I hated that hollow and unfair exchange. I felt disrespectful and ashamed.
Speaking of feelings, that is what it is all about. I do not pretend my gesture will improve the quality of life of some people in any way. For that matter, I would probably have to raise funds for a specific cause. For some reason though, I don’t feel comfortable to do so.
Bottom line is, I want to offer something which is in agreement with myself. For this purpose, understand “offer” in the broad sense because it is all about conveying feelings. undoubtedly, plenty of reasons have urged me to go on my travels – the main one being my need to bring feelings and emotions to the next level. Up to now, mainly my desert adventure has proven to be satisfying in that regard. In fact, acute feelings of vulnerability, over-confidence, anxiety (lack of water), and euphoria (reaching the end of unsealed tracks and Darwin) have made me feel alive more than ever before. Similarly, I strongly wish to bring these beautiful people along the way enjoyable feelings such as surprise, joy, and pride.
[Edit : At first, my plan was to touch people leading rough lives. All along the way, I realised that I wanted to honor people like me – in the sense that they are passionate about what they do.
Secondly, it seemed some people wanted to have a souvenir of our encounter rather than a portrait. This is why I have started developing group photos with my presence.]
However, there is a small flip side to it. An inkless mobile printer is a technology, and technology is money. I purchased the device in Singapore for the equivalent of 130 euros, and each sheet of photo paper is worth 50 euro cents. If, just like me, you are thrilled by my project and want to support it, you can. Donations with the amount of your choice can be done through Paypal or through direct transfer to my private account. Send me a private message and I will firstly gratefully thank you, then give you my bank details! For every donation, you will help me leave an indelible mark behind – this of a foreign cyclist who once ventured into their remote lands.
Click here to see all pictures related to Brake for a Potrait!
⇒ English speakers :
In the first sequence of the video, I am presenting the four first people and groups I gave the pictures to:
Firstly, Sitaï, a young girl who was so excited by the sight of me that I stopped for her. Secondly, Vendy, the primary school teacher. Thirdly, a beautiful family who hosted me for one night. Finally, Sofia and her grandmother she lives with because her parents passed away.
In the second sequence, I am explaining that the responses I get are very positive, even though some are shy because of the camera when it comes to displaying their joy. I am also explaining that many aspects make this project challenging for me. For a start, it often involves stopping and breaking my rhythm. Finding the right person can be tricky as well (not rich but also not too poor). Then, I need to either take the picture secretly, which makes me uncomfortable, or earn their trust and ask them to pose but they are really bad at it. Moreover, I also like to surprise them, so I need to hide to print it. It also helps not to display my belongings. In fact, not only kids but also grown-ups tend to touch and look in my bags out of curiosity. Finally, I wanted to collect their reactions by recording them. It makes me nervous and makes my English sound terrible!
Brake for a portrait project is still in its early stage. Should you have any comment or suggestion to make, I would be happy to hear you out! Leave me a message on Facebook or through the “contact” section.