For Raymond Depardon, the celebrated French photographer and filmmaker, the assignment was simple: to send back, each day, one image he had shot in New York. For one month in 1981, these “humorous, observational photographic notes” about the city that never sleeps were published, daily, in the French newspaper Liberation. “It allowed me to be a photographer before anything else, before being a photojournalist,” Depardon tells TIME.
But the assignment also proved pivotal in French photography. Produced at a time when first-person, subjective narratives weren’t as popular there as in the U.S. – a country that was fully embracing the idea of new journalism – it freed Depardon to experiment with his craft.
Now, more than 35 years later, the Magnum photographer is back in New York, where he produced an 11-day sequel of his “Correspondance New Yorkaise,” published, once again, by Liberation [see the full series here].
“The city has changed and it hasn’t at the same time,” Depardon tells TIME. New York is still bustling. It has long been the home of an incredible mix of cultures, says the 74-year-old photographer, “but, it has become even more global. You can meet with, see the entire planet. New York is a lesson in tolerance.”
Perhaps what has really changed, then, is the photographer.
“I’m calmer,” he says. “Before, when I was 30, I was never satisfied. I was never happy when I was chasing reality, which is, in essence, unattainable. At one point, I needed to slow down.”
That’s why he chose to trade his 35mm Leica for a large-format camera, replicating 19th-century methods. The camera allows him to reflect on the snapshots he’s making. “Plus, with a camera like that, you can photograph anyone,” he says. “They all say yes. Gone is that idea of the stolen photograph.”
Raymond Depardon is a French photographer and filmmaker. He is represented by Magnum Photos. Depardon’s 11 photographs shot in 2017, alongside his original series from the 1980s, are on show at the FIAF gallery in New York until July 1. The exhibition is curated by Francois Hebel.
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