Ambassador Jérôme Sessini is a Magnum
photographer who has covered some of the most significant events of the past 20 years. He also takes on long-term projects, studying the drug cartel wars on the Mexican/US border, the crisis in Ukraine and America's ongoing battle with opioid addiction.
Through his lens, Jérôme has shot political upheaval, social rebellion and human struggle. His move to reportage came in 1998 when he was asked by the Gamma photo agency to cover the conflict in Kosovo. He's since been immersed in some of the most significant events of recent years, including the Iraq War, the fall of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, the seizure of Somalian capital Mogadishu by Islamic militias, the war in Lebanon in 2006 and the ongoing conflict in Syria. His photographs have one common thread – they seek to dig below the news to capture scenes representing wider issues.
Born in Vosges, France in 1968, Jérôme was inspired by the works of the great American street documentary photographers Diane Arbus
, Lee Friedlander
and, in particular, Mark Cohen
. He came to photography late, at the age of 23, and is now a leading photojournalist in his own right, joining Magnum in 2012 and becoming a full member in 2016.
Photographing the victims of war has long been a driving force for Jérôme. "Ever since I was a kid, I've been interested in images, and when I was a teenager I also became fascinated by history,"
he explains. "Plus, I remember sitting with my parents and watching the wars of the time on the news. So photography seemed like the best way for me to be an artist on the one hand and a journalist on the other."
As well as his 'day job', Jérôme photographs people around his hometown in eastern France, shifting between their daily lives and the landscapes around them. He also takes part in longer-term projects, such as his So far from God, too close to the USA
series, which focused on the impact of violence from the war between drug cartels in Mexico. Sessini reveals that although each visit to a conflict zone has been challenging – with the time he spent in Syria in 2012 being particularly notable for how tough it was, both emotionally and in terms of danger – it has been the stories that he has followed in Mexico that have been most emotionally involving. So far from God, too close to the USA
received a number of awards and was published in a book, The Wrong Side
, in 2012. Since 2014, Jérôme Sessini has been regularly covering the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Jérôme's work has also been published in distinguished publications such as Time
, De Standaard
, Le Monde
, and he has exhibited at the Visa pour l'Image
International Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France, at the Rencontres d'Arles
festival, and the French Ministry of Culture. His photographs are more than photojournalism, as he is keen to point out: "I don't like rigid categories. Sometimes there is art in journalism and journalism in art. Conscience, heart, beauty, balance and loss of balance are essentials for me."
Jérôme Sessini has also been nominated for a number of prestigious awards throughout his career, including the news category of the Visa d'Or awards for his work on Libya. His coverage of the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was taken out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile over the Ukraine in July 2014, saw him receive honours at the World Press Photo
Awards 2015 (first prize, Spot News, Stories) and The Olivier Rebbot Award from the Overseas Press Club of America. Remarkably, Jérôme also won second prize in the same category at the World Press Photo Awards 2015 for his harrowing Final Fight for Maidan
Sessini believes in the strength of photographs more than video when it comes to pricking the conscience of people, and he has led workshops designed to help a new generation of photographers to develop their own visual language for documentary and social photography.
Source: Canon Europe
Jérôme Sessini is one the world’s most prolific and respected names working in the sensitive field of conflict zones and has been dispatched to war-torn countries like Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Libya for international publications. As well as reporting on the frontlines, he has covered social issues such as the drug-related violence on the streets of Mexico, the anti-government protests in Ukraine and indigenous minorities in Cambodia facing forced eviction. Through his work, he is constantly learning, adapting and evolving.
Since 2018, Sessini has been documenting the opioid crisis in the United States, where he has travelled to Ohio and Philadelphia to create intimate portraits of the people and places ravages by drug misuse. In 2017, Sessini travelled to remote villages in Cambodia with Samrith Vaing, documenting the life of indigenous minorities facing forced eviction. In 2016, Sessini documented the Kurdish Peshmerga offensive against Islamic State (IS) in the city of Bashiq before crossing the region to cover Iraqi forces pushing towards Mosul.
His work has been published by prestigious newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek
as well as Le Monde
and the Wall Street Journal
. It has been shown in multiple solo exhibitions around the world including the Visa Photo Festival
in Perpignan, at the Rencontres d’Arles
, the Bibliothèque Nationale
François-Mitterrand, as well as with the French Ministry of Culture.
Sessini become Magnum Photos nominee in 2012 and a full member in 2016.
Source: Magnum Photos