July 21st, 1969, that was the day I met Hubert, friend of Jean-Pierre and founder of the Gamma agency. Hubert had come to see his mother who lived in Connecticut and at the same time wanted to talk with Jean Pierre about the representation of Gamma in the United States.
I had been living with Jean-Pierre for a few years and his work fascinated me. It was with him that I discovered my passion for photography and the life of a press photographer, exciting and romantic in my eyes.
Hubert and Jean-Pierre both decided that opening a Gamma office in the United States was the only solution, I listened to them discussing with a distracted ear because it was the day Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Historic day when my life changed. Hubert looked at me attentively and said to me “Why not you?… I don’t know anything about it I answered … You will learn he told me,” I liked this attitude of risk taking and since learning was the only thing that interested me, I immediately accepted and learned, I worked with him for 30 years.
We shared everything together: Passion for photojournalism, frenzied work 24 /7, taking unimaginable risks … Our sometimes difficult, always respectful relationship experienced great moments of exaltation and deep despair . We lived our profession as if our lives depended on it.
From the Vietnam War to the digital revolution, we’ve shared it all. We called each other daily for almost 50 years and talked about world events.
I loved and respected this endearing and difficult man, simple and complex, harsh and touching, brutal and delicate, pessimistic and lucid, irritating and irresistible. My great happiness is that we remained friends until the end. Just last week he wanted me to explain to him the complexity of the American elections. Our discussions continued … And I have on my phone his last message where he tells me how lucky we were to meet.
Hubert has changed my life as well as the lives of many people in our profession and it is with infinite sadness that I see him leave the stage that he has built and directed for 40 years.
Goodbye Hubert and thank you,
Eliane Laffont, NYC November 20, 2020