In the early hours of Saturday morning, the extent of the previous night’s terrorist rampage could still be felt in the streets of the French capital. After eight men launched a series of coordinated attacks across Paris killing at least 129 people and injuring 352, blood splatters on the windows of Le Carillon café testified to the tragedy’s indiscriminate nature.
Jerome Delay, the Associated Press chief photographer for Africa, was in Paris when he received a news alert on Friday night informing him of ongoing shooting incidents. Delay didn’t immediately set out to work. Instead, he gathered as much information as possible on the nature and location of the attacks. By midnight, he was riding his bike to Boulevard Voltaire, where 89 people were killed inside the Bataclan concert hall.
Over the next hours, he visited the sites of most attacks within the capital, capturing harrowing photos of the tragedy’s aftermath. At one point, after passing through a police checkpoint, Delay happened upon a body covered by a white sheet. “It felt like it had been forgotten,” he says. “It felt like I wasn’t supposed to be here; that I wasn’t supposed to see it.”
The next day, as Parisians woke up from an uncertain night, Delay didn’t feel, at first, that things had changed. “Saturday mornings are usually very calm in Paris, so today wasn’t any different,” he says. “But what was striking was to see these soldiers patrolling around the city. We’ve been used to seeing them in train stations and airports, often looking bored. Today, they are everywhere. You ask yourself: ‘Am I really in Paris?’ It’s a weird feeling.”
Now, Delay is photographing the aftermath, turning his lens on the intense grief that can be read on people’s faces as they mourn their death. Cafés where terror struck have been turned into memorials, with friends and strangers alike leaving flowers and messages of support with the hope that this will be the last time they will have to do so.
Jerome Delay is Associated Press’ Chief Photographer for Africa.