Expedition photos to make you dream…


2 April 2012

Vincent Hilaire, photo-journalist aboard Tara, and Julien Girardot, photographer-cook during the Tara Oceans expedition, exhibited their photos at the Palais des Congrès in Lorient. Two artists, two styles, two visions, but a common passion: photography, and a unique subject: Tara.

Tell us about your exhibit:

Vincent: “From one pole to the other, the poetry of ice”, displays 40 photographs combining two adventures, one at the North Pole during the Tara Arctic expedition, and the other at the South Pole during Tara Oceans. There are 20 photos each from the Arctic and Antarctic, all in black and white, taken 3 years apart but at the same time of year. What is striking is the contrast between the polar night and the endless daylight at the South Pole.

Julien: “A Unique Marathon” includes 50 photographs taken between Djibouti and Mauritius during the Tara Oceans expedition. It’s a kind of travel book with each image accompanied by a short text. These are color photos that address a variety of topics — science, navigation, life on board, ports-of-call, people we encountered.

What do you want to communicate through these photos?

V: I had the opportunity to travel to these magnificent landscapes of ice, and I wanted to show the special atmosphere there: the beauty of nature and pristine landscapes. At the poles, time stops and every instant you have the impression of living an eternal moment. It’s this feeling that I want to share with the public. At the South Pole, besides the landscapes and Tara, I concentrated on marine mammals, penguins. In contrast, at the North Pole, my pictures reflect the more human and personal adventure, which I experienced for 5 months. When you have the privilege to venture into these lands, it’s your duty to share the sights and experience to inspire others.

J: The adventure aboard Tara is about science, but there’s also communication between the people on board, and at ports-of-call. I wanted to share the wonderful encounters I had, even the briefest ones, like this young merchant in Bombay. I wanted to show emotional moments between people, for example when Abdou — our guide on the Djibouti coral reefs — looked at photos of the Tara Arctic expedition. He’d never seen anything like it before. These are the kinds of touching moments, human and fraternal which I love to photograph and share.

How many photos did you take?

V: Nearly 8000 pictures at each pole.

J: Aboard Tara I take an average of nearly 1000 photos per month, so there should be about 4000.

How did you select your photos?

V: I combined different criteria — aesthetics, poetry, the impression of unity. The link between the two poles is, of course, Tara.

J: To choose my photographs, I took into account the artistic but also the information content.

What is your favorite picture?

V: For the Arctic it’s “The Whale” — Tara resting on the ice, like a shipwrecked vessel at night on a frozen crust. For Antarctica, it’s the iceberg silhouetted against the light in the Antarctic Sound. It’s like a painting.

J: My favorite is the one of soaring birds at Saint Brandon. They encircle Tara at anchor like a wreath, and the scene is bathed in an orange-yellow light. Just an anecdote, but the place is called “Cargados Carajos” which means “crown of birds” in Portuguese. Besides the image itself, this photo reminds me of the magical moment I spent there alone. After taking the shot, I went swimming in this dream scenery.

Where are the next exhibition dates?

V: Nothing definite yet, but the exhibit will certainly travel in France, and hopefully abroad. Following our visit to New York, I’d like the exhibit to be shown there, and I hope my book can be translated into English.

J: From July 10 to August 10, “A Single Marathon” will be displayed outdoors in Roscoff.   Added to the exhibit will be 40 new photographs, which I took while sailing aboard Tara in Polynesia, and during the New York to Lorient leg.

Do you have other personal projects in mind?

V: I want to continue working in black and white, on the theme of humans facing dehumanization — to show what I find shocking in our society. And I also hope to return with my camera to the Moroccan desert, the place where I first understood my desire to transform traveling into adventure.

J: I have a project for a photographic book about the revival of traditional sailing boats in the Polynesian lagoons. The idea was born after my voyage in Polynesia aboard Tara.


Interview by Anna Deniaud