Sep 26
Women in Kimono at Fushimi Inari
posted by: Assistant in Japan on 09 26th, 2009 | | 3 Comments »


Florence is in Paris getting ready for the “Japan – Vivid Colors” exhibition at Espace Japon.  Please come to the opening starting at 18:00 on Tuesday, September 29!

This picture was shot at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan.  One of the photos from Fushimi Inari (not this one) will be exhibited at Espace Japon.  This place is such a photogenic place and many photographers from all over the world are fascinated by it.  One of the famous photographer, Steve  McCurry had a picture of Fushimi Inari at his Visa pour l’image exhibition.

Anyway, here is a behind-the-scene story of Florence’s Fushimi Inari photos as I promised to tell you in this previous entry.

Fushimi Inari Taisha (shrine) is located in the Mount Inari in Kyoto.  Actually this whole mountain (though it’s more like a hill) is considered a holy place.  The orange gates are called torii, and there are currently over 10,000 of them along with the small paths to go and worship small shrines spread over this whole mountain.  The entire path to go up to the top of the mountain and come down is 4 km and takes about 2 hours.  Each torii was built by a donation from a business or an individual.  Japanese letters on each gate represent the name of the business and the year that the donation was made.  Donations are still coming in and new toriis are built every year.  The newer the torii was build, the brighter the orange color is.

Visitors and worshiper often get struck by the first torii tunnel at the bottom of the hill.  This photo was taken in the tunnel at the beginning of 2009 during one of the new year holidays.  Yes, I said new year holidays, and that means A LOT OF PEOPLE everywhere in Japan, especially at shrines and temples!!!

This was not the first time that Florence visited Fushimi Inari Taisha.  She had been there several years ago when she was still using her film camera.  She was fascinated by this place and always wanted to go back there to take more pictures with her digital camera.  When she visited there the first time, it was not during the holiday time and there were not many people.  But this time, things were totally different.  When she saw the large crowd there, she said, “I cannot take pictures like this!”  Then I (Florence’s assistant) said, “What do you mean you cannot take pictures?  We came all the way, and we are NOT going back without any pictures!!!”  So I began going up the hill thinking the higher we climb, the less crowded it would become.  Disappointed and upset Florence followed me unwillingly.  From then on, it was all about waiting game for the both of us.

I was right to some degree.  The higher we went, the less crowded it became. But still, there were people in the small paths constantly going up and down.  Florence waited and waited for this one moment when the stream of people stopped.  I waited and waited for Florence to wait.  We moved forward and stopped, moved forward and stopped, moved forward and stopped…  We did not finish the entire trail because I got so tired, but Florence was able to take some pictures.  In fact, last time she did not go beyond the first torii tunnel.  So this time, she made new discoveries and shot amazing photos including the one used for the cover of the Ombres blanches magazine.

By the way, when Florence took this picture with two women in Kimono, she had to chase them after again!  They were walking fast as you can see in this picture.  Boy, Japanese people walk fast!

Sep 18
VIP Lounge Wall Art
posted by: Assistant in Abstract on 09 18th, 2009 | | 4 Comments »


Isn’t it gorgeous?  Three pictures from Florence’s “Water Works” collection have been placed on the walls of the VIP lounge at the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (private aviation).  I was so happy to see these pictures displayed in the way exactly I wished and hoped.  The size of this print is quite large: 160 x 110 cm. When I first entered the room, it was just breathtaking.  Wow… that’s all I could say. Then a few seconds later, all the joy and excitement came along. With this large size, you can even see the colors inside of the water drops!  The photo lab that Florence uses, Picto, did an amazing job reproducing the colors that Florence captured.

Unfortunately, with my digital pocket camera and my lack of photography skills, I couldn’t quite replicate how these pictures actually looked (to me) inside of this nicely decorated lounge.  Plus, not many people can actually see these displays unless you are considered a VIP and landed at the airport with your private jet.  Sorry… 🙁


This is “Traveling Ant” hang on the opposite wall. This one is a little smaller but still large: 120 x 80 cm.


“The Third Eye” is displayed in the business office inside of the lounge.  The print size is again: 120 x 80 cm.  When Florence first showed me this picture shortly after she shot it, I said to myself, “This picture would be perfect for a business office.”  Since then another photographer who saw this picture on Florence’s website has said the same thing.  Then there it is. The person in charge of decorating this lounge chose this photo in this business office!  I guess this must be the destiny of this picture.

By the way, how do you think Florence took this picture?  Some of you may know what this blue “eye” is, but what do you think this silver thing is?

Sorry, I cannot give you Florence’s “business secret.”  But if you go to Florence’s gallery at her website, there is another picture using the same materials.  That one might give you some idea what this silver thingy is 😉

Sep 11
Visa Off Exhibition
posted by: Assistant in Abstract on 09 11th, 2009 | | 4 Comments »

Perpignan- le Castillet

So here we are! Let’s go back to the beginning of our trip to Perpignan and show you all about Florence’s Visa Off exhibition. This is le Castillet with Catalonia flag and Visa pour l’Image flag on top of it. We passed by this wall numerous times while we were there.


This is where Florence’s exhibition was held – Bébé en Bulle. It’s a bookstore specialized in cartoons. The first thing we had to do was to hang the pictures.Well, actually no. The first first thing we had to do was to get there. Thanks to Florence’s friend, Christophe, he drove Florence’s car, drove through a maze of streets, and got us right in front of the store. We met the person who was working there and later the owner of the store. Both of them were really nice and accommodating.

We immediately started hanging the pictures, but there was a problem 🙁  The hooks that the store had for hanging the pictures did not fit to the hooks at the back of the frames! Ahhhhh!!! Florence had to hang all the pictures before the end of that day, or she would have been disqualified from the competition. We didn’t have a lot of time. We quickly came up with a solution which was to use strings, good idea, but where could we get the strings??? Thanks to Christophe again. He took me to a craft store nearby, and we found good strings. But this quick fix made the hanging work really difficult. When we finally finished hanging all the pictures, we were all exhausted. Quelle histoire! (What a story!) The photo above was taken at a later date. If it were on the first day, Florence wouldn’t have been smiling…


This is the headquarters of the Visa Off festival, the Perpignan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The first official event that Florence had to attend was the press conference there.


Press conference. The mayor of the city of Perpignan was there along with the president of the Visa Off festival and other festival officials. They said (according to Florence) there were going to be over 1,000 photographers from all over the world between the two Festivals (Visa pour l’Image & Visa Off) coming to visit Perpignan during the two weeks. They also said that they had to make a drastic selection this year for Visa Off.

Florence was a little intimidated at this point because it appeared that everybody who came to the press conference knew each other and she was the only stranger. But Jean-Louis and Delphine from CCI made her feel really welcomed.


Voilà! This was how Florence’s exhibition looked at the bookstore. We loved the brick wall, though we expected a white wall because we were told so. The wall was perfect for Florence’s photos.


Some more pictures. Florence was really appreciative of the fact that her exhibition was selected to be held at this bookstore. Other exhibitions were held at restaurants, bars, banks, clothing stores, markets, hair salons, meat shops, etc. At this bookstore, people would feel comfortable going in and looking at the pictures at any time and there was nothing interrupting the view.

By the way, we learned later on that unlikely to other events in which organizers would have to ask stores for participation, with Visa Off, the stores had to apply to participate and not all stores applied were selected for exhibitions. In addition, exhibitions were assigned by the Visa Off and stores did not get to choose which exhibition to hold at their store.


This is the description of Florence’s exhibition, “jeux d’eau”. This was another story. As you can see in the above pictures, Florence did not have this description originally.  She had the printout of the description, but we were not prepared to put it like this because we didn’t know the settings of the place, what was provided and not provided from the Visa Off office, nor how other photographers generally do with their captions or descriptions.  After we looked around others’ exhibitions, we realized many had this kind of description about their exhibitions neatly framed and put alongside of their photos. So we came up with a quick solution again, ran to an art store, got some materials, and voilá! Whew… Quelle histoire! (This was one of the first French words that I learned because I had to say so many times during this trip.)


This was part of another official event that Florence had to attend. It was the opening of the Visa Off festival. As part of the opening, everybody together (staffs, photographers, press/media, and the public) did go-around of the exhibitions all over the town. Not all exhibitions were visited at this time, but it took over 3 hours to finish this tour of exhibitions! In this picture, Florence was explaining about her photos to the Visa Off officials and others. Do you see the description neatly pasted on the brick wall now? 😉


Here is another picture of the go-around. According to Florence, many people thought she manipulated the pictures with Photoshop to get the effects. So she had to explain that the colors were natural colors. I hope she didn’t disclose her “business secrets” 😉


Another official event was the opening of her exhibition. Actually her opening was held together with other exhibition openings on the same street. So the nearby café Elféa provided drinks and appetizers for all the guests. Lots of people came to this whole street opening and Christophe brought many people to see Florence’s pictures. I think he is now promoted (?) to Chief Marketing Officer of Florence’s photography 😉

By the way, Florence was very moved by a woman who came to her opening. She had a serious illness, but despite of her illness, this person came to see her pictures. I hope Florence’s photos gave her energy to fight the illness and hope because I believe that’s what her pictures do.

Sep 10
Taken with Obama(?)
posted by: Assistant in Uncategorized on 09 10th, 2009 | | No Comments »

Découvrez Visa pour l’Image: Barack Obama sous l’objectif complice de Callie Shell sur Culturebox !

Well, I was preparing for the next entry about Florence’s exhibition at Visa Off in Perpignan, and accidentally found this video shot by the France 3 TV station. There we are! Florence and I are looking at “Barack Obama” exhibition by Callie Shell at Visa pour l’Image. It was inside of an old church (Eglise des Dominicains), and I loved that they used all those historical buildings for the exhibitions. I personally was very happy to see these pictures and Callie’s description of each picture. I had never seen some of them before and was moved by the pictures.

Here are some of the Visa pour l’Image exhibitions we went to:


This was at Couvent des Minimes (I don’t know what this place is). The largest number of exhibitions were held here.


This was where we saw “Barack Obama” exhibition. It looks like this man with a TV camera shot us secretly! (but I shot him too!)


Here is another picture from Eglise des Dominicains. Isn’t it wonderful to exhibit your photos like this?

I also found a video by the France 24 TV station that talks about Visa pour l’Image and photojournalism in ENGLISH. If you don’t know much about this biggest international photojournalism festival, this is a good video to watch. Click here to watch the video.

Sep 9
Florence won the prize!
posted by: Assistant in Latest News on 09 9th, 2009 | | 6 Comments »


YES, SHE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Florence’s “Water Works” selection has won the Free Theme category Prize in the 2009 Visa Off photo festival in Perpignan.

The picture was shot (by me) at the award ceremony which was held at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Perpignan in the early evening of September 3.  The room did not have an air conditioning, and with all the photographers, press/media, festival staffs, and publics gathered, the room was steamy hot.  I had no idea what was happening on the stage because I do not understand French. All of a sudden, I heard Florence’s name.  I looked at Florence, but her whole body was completely frozen and she looked dead serious.  A few seconds later, I heard her name, again.  Florence’s face lit up, and everybody clapped their hands.  Then I finally realized she had gotten the prize.  We didn’t even know Florence was among the three nominees for the prize!  She went up to the stage and was given the prize.  She told me later that she was so nervous throughout this ceremony to the point she thought she was going to faint. I guess this picture shows her nervousness in her unusual smile.  The man with a microphone is monsieur Maurice Halimi, assistant of the mayor with the culture of the town of Perpignan.  Again I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying, but according to Florence he spoke really nice things about Florence and her work.


After monsieur Halimi’s speech, Florence was asked to give a short speech.  Oh, NO!  This prize was much to her surprise, and so she was not prepared at all to give a speech.  But somehow she pulled it off.  I don’t know exactly what she said, but according to Florence, she thanked all the staffs of the Festival Off and the town of Perpignan for their hospitality and kindness.  To your right hand of the picture, the woman standing with the Visa Off t-shirt on is madame Jacqueline Guenoun, Secretary of the Festival. Florence met her at the opening.  She was running around organizing everything, but very kindly took time to talk to Florence.


Here is a photo with all other winners and nominees.  Finally Florence has a smile on her face.  But do you know what she did at first?  Florence was holding her certificate backwards! Several press people were trying to take pictures but they couldn’t because Florence was not holding the certificate right. And do you know what she said to me later?  “Because I didn’t want to show off.”  Oh, Florence, Florence…

So in this picture, from your left, monsieur Didier Hoiry, President of the Visa Off.  Next to the president is madame Bettina David Fauchier, another nominee for the Free Theme Prize.  Florence and I loved her pictures!  And the man in red shirt is the winner of the Collective Prize and the tall man on your right is the Photo Reportage Amateur Prize winner.


Here is Florence with her supporters after the award ceremony.  To your left, Audrey from RFM radio.  We met her at the opening of the Festival.  Since then she has been promoted(?) to Florence’s Perpignan local assistant.  She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak French, but somehow Audrey and I decided that we were going to make a revolution soon because we are exploited!  Well… not exactly, but you know… we are volunteers, so… Watch out, Florence! 😉   Next to Audrey is Christophe who is a good friend of Florence and happened to live in Perpignan.  He is such a fashionable guy as you can see in this picture and very nice.  Without him, Florence wouln’t have been able to participate in the festival.  Actually, we wouldn’t have even made it to our hotel in Perpignan. Perpignan is a small city, but the roads there are unbelievability confusing (and so narrow).  Florence who is new to this town didn’t know where to go, and I couldn’t even read some of the road signs or the map because they are in French!  Christophe drove us to our hotel, took us around the city, showed us good restaurants to eat, etc.  He even helped Florence hang her pictures for her exhibition.  This was another story which I’ll tell you about later.  The cool thing about Christophe is that he said he “knew” Florence was going to win the prize (and that’s why he came to the ceremony).  He certainly has eyes for true art! And finally next to Florence is… a ghost. Well, let’s keep it that way 😉


Finally, today September 9, in a few hours, they are going to do screenings of the photos on this gigantic screen at the Republic Square in Perpignan.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to see Florene’s photo on this screen because I had already left France, but Florence will be there with her supporters.

Florence and I had a wonderful time in Perpignan.  As Florence said on the stage, the festival staffs were very welcoming and kind.  This photo festival is one of the biggest events that I have ever been to.  Between the Visa pour l’Image and the Festival Off, the entire city of Perpignan is involved in these events for two weeks.  I can only imagine how much work it requires, especially for the staff members.  Other than the people I mentioned above, Delphine and Jean-Louis from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry were very nice and helpful as well.

Florence and I were also impressed with the fact that the judges of the Festival Off actually went all over the city and evaluated all the exhibitions (69 of them!) with their eyes.  I thought they had already decided on the prizes based on the digital images and prints that participants submitted when they applied, but apparently that was not the case.

I will write more about Florence’s Visa Off exhibition and other stuffs, but for now,

Thank you, everyone!  Thank you, Visa Off!  Thank you, Perpignan!


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