Alain Ernoult at Visa pour l’image: “It’s the animal that decides on the photo, I’m just a smuggler”

The Sixth Extinction is upon us. Climate change, overexploitation of resources, destruction of natural spaces, are causing biodiversity to disappear. Alain Ernoult presents at the Maison de la catalanité a series of photos of these animals which tomorrow may no longer be of this world. Images full of sensitivity and emotion.

Who could believe when meeting Alain Ernoult, an elegant rather discreet photographer, that he was a war correspondent for the international press, that he published more than 15,000 pages in the most prestigious titles (Géo, Life, Match. ..) and that his nickname in the small world of photojournalism is “no limit”? And yet this autodidact, “self click-clack”, he corrects with a smirk, this man of image has signed great reports, which have earned him numerous awards for his shots close to the events. “It’s kind of my trademark, he assures. I do my best to be closer to the action. In my war reports I also want to show what we do not look at, not to photograph only the negative. What I’m also and above all looking for is to do what others don’t do.”

Work over several years

Then one day, during a report in South Africa, Alain Ernoult is confronted with the gradual but rapid disappearance of many animals. “It was a click, admits the reporter. I had to do something to raise awareness about this environmental apocalypse. I then took the decision to photograph, always as close as possible, you can’t get over it, the great apes, the large mammals, but also the reptiles, the birds, the snakes, in short, all these endangered species. .” A work that will take him several years on several continents between Africa and the Arctic and whose current exhibition as part of Visa pour l’image is only part of the Ernoult fund. “I want to highlight the animal, he continues, it’s the star animal, I’m just a witness smuggler. VS’This is also why I present the images in black and white, so that the gaze is focused solely on the subject. You need a lot of patience, for some photos I had to stay still for several hours before shooting. But it is in the exchange with the animal, I can even say an exchange in the literal sense, that we can find the emotion. Ultimately it is the animal that decides on the photo. I am in no way a lecturer.”

For the photographer, the animal has a lot to teach us, and there is still time to react to prevent tomorrow only photos of them being left, however beautiful they may be.. “But beware, he warns again, Now is the time to act. Tomorrow will be too late.” With a bit of luck, you may also come across the author of these images at the Maison de la Catalanité. “I like to share, talk to people and explain my approach” confides Alain Ernoult again.

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