The things I saw #2

I thought I’d add an entry from my travel log with this, the second ‘The things I saw’ article. All the images here were made using an Olympus MjuII and various 35mm film, including Kodak Portra, Agfa Vista, Fuji Superia and expired Kodak Tri-X 400. This images are my analogue notebook, visual sketches of my travels.

Sunday 18th October, Calais, France – I never, for one moment, realised that the migrant situation was so dire. Arriving in Calais is like driving into a movie set, except this is no movie –  I had no idea that so many people have converged around this French port. I’d imagined that there would be maybe a few hundred migrants – I thought they’d all be hidden away, waiting for the night to come to ensconce themselves in, on, and even under passing lorries on their way to England. But there’s thousands of people – men women, children and babies. And they’re everywhere, some wandering around aimlessly, others line the sides of the roads into Calais, ready for the slightest chance to get into a lorry to take them to the promised land. 

I tried to get in to one of the smaller camps near the ferry port, but the 6 policemen, even after I’d shown them my press card, told me I couldn’t go in. I could have just walked a few metres along the road and entered the camp down a grassy bank. Hundreds of people are arriving in these camps everyday – they don’t ask for permission to enter, so maybe next time I won’t. 

I stopped a small group of African migrants, they were walking alongside the razor-wired fence that surrounds the ferry port, to get some portraits. I pretended to be a bit lost just to get a conversation going. I don’t know why, but I asked them if they knew were the nearest supermarket was. I photographed a couple of very striking men, having bribed them slightly with the international currency of cigarettes. After I’d photographed the Africans, I took a Polaroid of each of them to keep. We all stood and laughed together as pictures developed. 

It’s the middle of October and my camper van is already uncomfortably cold at night – but I have a blow heater, a thick duvet and extra blankets. There are 5000 people a stones throw from here who don’t.’

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9 comments

  1. Stephen

    Came through the Calais port at 3 in the morning Saturday.. I’ve dont the trip to England a number of times this year as my mother was very unwell. Sadly she passed away Friday evening so after visiting a friend’s opening night (photo exhibition “Moine Trappists” by Guy Focant) I set out. stropped at the services on the motorway to Dunkirk and there were refugees trying to get into trucks there. The camps have just grown over the year since I’ve been passing through. There are people there really willing to go through hell to juts get to somewhere where I guess they feel safe. Make’s you wonder in our very tidy, cosy world that we live in, what hell they left behind. I arrived here near Birmingham and people seem to just be driven by the media in their opinion about the crisis, the usual anti-refugy propaganda that you hear..

    Liked by 1 person

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