I really like photography. Good photography. And few agencies had better photos on a more regular basis than Gamma.
But now it’s gone.
|Abu Dhabi - Jack Burlot - 1973|
|Vietnam - Jean-Claude Labbé - 1976|
The agency’s initial aims were to improve the working conditions of photojournalists and implement equitable treatment of all its photographers. Photo by photo, Gamma became the agency, whether for images of the glitterati or the warfront.
|Kabul - Eric Bouvet - 2001|
But as with all human undertakings, where egos are involved, conflict and jealousy soon erupted. In May of 1973, a strike broke out and ultimately most of the photographers followed Henrotte to Sygma. In 1980, Depardon made a film, “Reporters”, in which he followed several of Gamma’s photographers as they went about chasing images. And then he left for the rival agency, Magnum.
As the 20th century drew to a close, Gamma was losing money, perhaps because of its refusal to “go digital”. In 1999, it was bought up by a division of Hachette Filipacchi Médias and kept functioning. When rumors circulated that the agency was in financial trouble in March of 2007, the agency changed owners and names several times. It finally filed for Chapter 11 protection in mid-2009, after a loss of three million euros.
|Corrida, Nîmes - Erik Sampers - 1991|
So Gamma, per se, is gone, but its stock of over 500,000 photos still exists. Hard to track down, and all too-brief (Oct. 6-23 only), this exhibit included fifty of them selected from the entire range of its spheres of interest: “beautiful people”, everyday life, wars, humanitarian crises... anything that was news and caught the eye. (A list of the photographers is given below.)
All fifty are perfectly framed works of art that tell a story. All fifty were sold on the final Sunday, with the proceeds to benefit Reporters Without Borders (https://rsf.org/).
The exhibit’s photographers: Jean-Louis Atlan, Patrick Aventurier, Hélène Bamberger, Jean-Pierre Bonnotte, Giancarlo Botti, Eric Bouvet, Henri Bureau, Jack Burlot, David Burnett, Gilles Caron, Patrick Chapuis, Georges De Keerle, Françoise Demulder, Raymond Depardon, Marc Deville, Alexis Duclos, Michel Folco, Jean-Claude Francolon, Raphaël Gaillarde, Yves Gellie, Gianni Giansanti, Chip Hires, Barry Iverson, David Kennerly, Peter Knapp, Kaku Kurita, Jean-Claude Labbé, Jean-Pierre Laffont, Bertrand Laforêt, Jean-Jacques Lapeyronnie, Michel Laurent, François Lochon, Michel Maïofiss, Pascal Maitre, Yves Manciet, Olivier Martel, Georges Mérillon, Pierre Perrin, Jean-Pierre Rey, Sebastiao Salgado, Erik Sampers, Eric Sander, Christian Simonpietri, Laurent Sola, Gilbert Uzan, Laurent Van Der Stockt, Diana Walker, and the unknown photographer of “Trooping the Colour”.
|Trooping the Colour - unknown - 1970|