The famous wildlife photographer releases a documentary in the cinema made with his partner on his experience of the search for the snow leopard in Tibet. A film loaded with astonishing images with the presence and the commentary, said in voice o ﬀ, of the writer Sylvain Tesson. L’Œil de la Photographie, for its part, has succeeded in making contact with the much sought-after panther who gives his vision of things in exclusivity.
“I am the snow leopard. I see you men advancing towards me in this insane project that you have of wanting to catch my image.
As soon as you set foot in Tibet, even before, I could already see you. I was there, near and far, darting at you with a half-worried, half-amused eye.
Intrigued, too, by this strange team that you are training: the director, the sound engineer and especially these two friends, the photographer with the fox face and the writer with the bear head.
Both in companionship, walking in the zone where I breathe, this immense space in which dance bright lights and holed clouds which melt on a limitless plateau.
I am everywhere, men. I am inscribed in the line of rusty rocks, in the cry of a wild horse racing on brown sand, in the majestic flight of an eagle watching over its nest.
As soon as you arrive, you need to stand out. You keep commenting on things. Usually, I don’t really see who the other person is talking about. A question of phrasing or of the words used, no doubt, and it takes me a long time to strain my ears to discern whether it is the photographer or the writer. No matter. The same is yours and I see you as brothers in quest, same hands outstretched towards the impossible.
Be careful, because you are at my house. By putting your paws on it, you are caught in the gear and you will return home different.
You will come home changed. More fawn in a way. More fawn, because you will have learned to see a little better or a little more with your senses.
Now come on.
Take a step.
And there you are, suddenly you see them, near the big black rocks.
They are huge, magical.
They are the totemic presences of an ancient world. Wild yaks.
With the same horns as those of the bulls in the Lascaux cave. The writer, you say: “Prehistory cries and every yak is a tear.” You have pretty formulas, I agree.
The yaks, it was I who sent them to give you a welcome dance.
The one that allows me to better understand what kind of man walks the dunes of my life.
I wonder: what are you looking for here at the back? What do you come to do in these rocky steppes where nothing is easy? What are you doing in these great fumes that rock the mountains and give the surrounding air a mystical charge?
You must be two crazy people, two very funny idlers, two crazy friends who have lost their bearings or their compass, probably little understood by your fellows.
Unless you are the forerunners of a human being that I do not yet know. Who cares much more about the flora and fauna that surround them.
And which will be a milestone.
I think of those nomads that I met in the past. They lived and understood what the word “harmony” meant. Exactly the same as you say, the photographer. Here, you are starting to please me. I have to tell you, you have a nice head and I like your thoughtfulness with the writer.
I left you a footprint long ago in the mud, now fossilized by the drying up of the earth. You look at her with a fascination that makes me laugh.
Like I’m more important than anything.
Remember, it’s me, men, who decide when to show myself.
Do not think that with your camouflage clothes, very ugly moreover, your camera trap that you place between the rocks and which triggers a shot as a being passes by, could surprise me. I know exactly what I’m doing.
And I’m going to be desired.
Days to make you wait. I love.
It forces you to go to Tibetan farmers.
Nothing pleases me more than to hear your awkward exchanges, your languages which cannot be understood, your cultures so different and your attempts to make connections.
There is my mind, men.
This is why I am already offering you an image: me walking past your camera trap. You discover it later and you must see your childish eyes, amazed by the texture of my coat. The writer, definitely, you have pretty good sentences. When you look around and say after seeing me in the picture, “Suddenly everything is enhanced”, I admit that I blush a little.
I’m still thinking. Is it enough to have given you this image? Do you deserve better?
I see you are losing patience not to see me for real. And yet, I want to test you. It is this quality that I expect from you to finally give you what you are looking for.
Writer, you say you’re going to be leaving soon.
That you resolve to leave without seeing me. That you resolve to leave like that, without the “trophy”, because you have understood the basics: that the experience already lived here is enough and that it is magnificent in itself, without necessarily the photo that goes with it.
And your words won.
Come on, I admit, I want to give you what you’re looking for.
I’ll let you sleep in my cave at night. I’ll make snow for you in the early morning.
And then I’m going to stretch my tail to the corner of a rock, test the photographer’s sharpness. Arise!
And here is the smile that you both put on now: this is what I would so much like to see from you men. It’s not that hard !
A smile that embraces all the faces next door and that is stronger than anything.
Nota Bene :
If I have allowed myself to show myself to you, it is only so that my image circulates and that it responds to your impossible desire to see everything. If I agree to give me to your angry eye, this too hot sun which is burning the world, this retina which never ceases to enjoy the surfaces, it is so that you stop looking for me up there!
May the knowledge that I am in these mountains be enough for you.
May the smile that comes to you at the thought of walking somewhere in this world mend all your hearts. ”
Interview by Jean-Baptiste Gauvin