The Travelling People

The Travelling People, who are sometimes known as Roma, or Gypsies, gather each year in May to celebrate the saints Marie-Jacobe and Marie-Salome, and Saint Sara. There is a famous legend in this region of France that says that after the crucifixion of Jesus, the women of the Holy Family, the mothers of the disciples and a few others fled the Holy Land on a boat that had no sail or oars. Trusting to God, they were cast out on the Mediterranean sea, and eventually came ashore in Camargue, France, near a village now called Les Saintes-Maries de la Mer, by the western border of Provence.

 

The aim was to give my audience a desire to know more and maybe initiate a trip of their own – feel the transcendence of the moment for themselves – their own pilgrimage. Without clear perception and sharply defined focus, you can make it your own experience through your imagination. I settled on Polaroid cameras with The Impossible Project film. I wanted to free myself from the usual stresses of the photographer – calculating exposures, metering the light and so on, and simply take pictures as I was feeling the moment.

Three Polaroid SLR 680 instant cameras were used to capture over 600 images over four days. The beauty, or some might say the frustration, of this system is that the camera’s focus and exposure is completely automatic, out of the photographer’s control, while the film itself has its own peculiarities. In some cases, emulsion might even be missing in places. Each time a photo is taken, I never know what to expect. Moreover, the instant the photo emerges from the camera the emulsion has to be physically protected from light for at least four minutes to develop, or it will be destroyed. This of course is done while simultaneously photographing more images, all while standing in knee deep in crashing waves and juggling three cameras! By the time an image can be verified, the moment has passed and one must move on.