|Written by Jon Levy|
|31 Aug 2009|
1. Visa is rather like an episode of Scooby Doo. Every year the sleuths are out dodging various ghouls in order to unmask the baddy who killed photojournalism. And each time we find out, in the end, that it is the factory owner himself! If only those pesky kids with HD video equipped cameras would stop interfering!
2. As previously reported on "Prét-à-Porter Afghan edition" the desert scarf is out this year. The hot acessory of 2009 is the Combat Thong. Good for a quick lens wipe and slingshot catapult for getting your memory cards across barbed-wire booder crossings. See also this article to learn how the new spandex-lace upgrade lets you use your thong to express displeasure during slideshows at the Campo
3. It's is impossible to eat well AND attend evening slideshows. The timing is all off to get a meal in before queuing to get a seat in the auditorium, plus the extended remix of images of France winning the World Cup or the latest story from Congo or the war in Chechnya will certainly not leave any room for a late night lamb tagine and couscous.
Note: When it does come to eating please do not try and survive on cigars and whisky alone for the whole week. You may see some people who appear to be doing just that but those people also have beards, open shirts and hairy chests and long enough self-referential war stories to sustain them in other ways.
4. James Nachtwey is banned. No he's not. Yes he is, again. It's all very confusing but if you categorically argue your case for one or other theory people will believe you because no one really knows. Just take it from me, if you have (or haven't) throttled the projectionist before your show you will end up in VISA limbo too.
5. Having spent 25 million euros on the canapés at their Agency stand soirées in the Palais de Congres over the past three years Getty is proudly a main sponsor of the festival again. This year they expect to complete the full takeover of the burgeoning photojournalism market they have helped scalp. (Unless that is their lawyers invent a way to back out quietly from future festival funding committments.)
6. No matter what anyone tells you about this being a great year with innovative multimedia shows at VISA tell them that there has always been multimedia here. Hell Perpignan invented the matchbook photographer promo card, the magazine promo hiphop haircut and the press-pack agency memory stick giveaway.
7. Perpignan airport has been intentionally styled on the old terminal at Entebe, Uganda. This is so that photogrphers are intuitively prepared for the assault ahead of them and to be on the look out for raving mad Idi Amin look-a-like characters. The real similarity to the terminal in Uganda reveals itself on the Sunday departure flights when the crowds in the departure lounge resemble a weary, sick, unwashed, hungover huddle of stunned hostages waiting for their flight to freedom.
8. Remember, whatever the rush of the moment makes you do at the Saturday night festival party, do not mistake whisky and orange juice for a real drink! Call it a "Dev, Fix, Stop" cocktail or whatever you like, this is not a drink fit for human consumption! Additionally the party and festival this year will be equipped with Donivan Wylie style watchtowers and feature Martin Parr happy holiday-maker extras to maintain security and good PR throughout.
9. The editors from magazines you thought you might bump into are indeed in town (well almost all) but they don't really want to meet you. VISA will publish a list of who's here but these people won't wear their name tags. Who they actually are is a fiercely guarded secret only known by their friends who they see and speak to throughout the rest if the year. You won't see them much at the cafe de la poste, it's just too dangerous for them to be outed... they could be asked to actually commission photography!
The badge icon system is designed to further throw you off the trail. Noone knows what an orange star, a blue triangle or a red finger means but I hear the new black flag logo is for photographers and agencies that only shoot portrait stories of celebrities.
To all in Perps I wish you a wonderful week, it is essential to support the festival and the photography. Do spare a grateful thought for The King who makes it all happen. Bravo, vingt-et-un, bonne anniversaire!!
There are many other rules and insider knowledge of course to share such as: You dont actually have to have seen a show to slag it off (a perpignan tradition of sorts), or being a seasoned photojournalist will not save you from being ripped off and possibly beaten up if you leave your embedd and venture into town alone... but I'm sure you will have your own nuggets of knowledge and deep inside wish i was there again this year. For a change this year however Noorderlicht, that equally wonderful festival of photojournalism, beackons.