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Visa pour Image 2020 / ESJ PRO : Nicolas Jimenez: “My job is to do journalism”


Director of the photography department at the newspaper Le Monde, Nicolas Jimenez is on a business trip at Visa pour l’Image. “The only place in the world where you can meet people from all countries and different worlds. »He meets agents and photographers, looking for potential collaborators.

At the helm of the photo service of the daily Le Monde since January 2009, Nicolas Jimenez’s days begin at 7 am. “A meeting with the boss and the department heads. The daily hits newsstands in the afternoon. “We close the daily newspaper at 10:30 am. After an hour of free time, we go to an editorial conference for the next day’s newspaper. »His job: to decide and lead. “With my collaborators , we choose the subjects to be dealt with and set a course to follow. Same with the photo. I lead the photojournalists and once the fieldwork is done, it all comes back to me. “After the heated debates for the front page choice, around 5:30 pm,” my job is essentially to study the photos and make the selection, although it will have to be validated downstream by the editor of the daily. ”

As a student, he was more interested in diplomacy than photography. “I don’t know how a camera works, and I’m not interested. My job is to do journalism. But I have always had a great interest in news photography. A summer job in the early 2000s at Visa filled his address book. A first position as a photo editor at Le Monde and the support of Raphaëlle Bacqué got him a foot on the ladder.

A balance between aesthetics and raw information

Nicolas Jimenez approaches his job in a pragmatic way. “If I am presented with a photo to illustrate a subject, my choice will never go to the best constructed, most perfect image. There is a balance to be found between aesthetics and information. Otherwise, I refuse to publish it. “Choices which often lead to” heated discussions “within the editorial staff, but which allow” to enhance the paper that accompanies the photo, especially for a newspaper like ours, in which photography has long been relegated to the background . ”

Emotion, the enemy of what is right

Knowing how to decide is one of the obligations of the profession. Giving the information straightforwardly and  never altered: “In Le Monde, no picture is ever photoshopped. It is banned. Nicolas Jimenez takes a firm stand on the question of what a photograph should show. “You have to deliver something right, and emotion is the enemy. “Including when it comes to an event like the Charlie Hebdo attacks? “We are not going to throw away the photos of the locals just after the massacre, even if they are in our possession. Still, news is what it is, and even when it’s tough, I think it’s important to show it. Little Aylan, bodies on the ground after the Nice bombings, it is necessary to see these images, as unbearable as they may be. If we remain ethical, and the photos are viewable and effective, we publish them. ”

The secret to a good photo?

Photojournalists are plentiful and seats are expensive. “We are ten times more in demand than ten years ago. I receive between 300 and 450 emails per day from people who have covered a subject and who ask us if we are interested. He sees his relationship with photographers as a relationship of loyalty. That doesn’t mean he hires them on fixed-term or permanent contracts. “They are professionals who excel because they are passionate. »And the precariousness of photoreporters? The reality is that there are a lot of photojournalists and many struggle to make a living. ”

Nicolas Jimenez ends up delivering his little secret, which his journalist’s eye spots in the photos. “Identify all the little details to make the difference. In politics, for example, it’s always the same people, the same places. When you have an interest in the subject and are there regularly, you are in the very small details, a profile, an expression, an angle. This is what a good photo is. ”

Yann Douyere

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