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Jason Lauré’s Photographic Odyssey:
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A People Photographer
Lauré says, “I’ve been to Africa every year since 1974,” beginning with an “overland” trip, a journey across the Sahara. His second visit, a “trans-Africa” excursion, began with Morocco, then Senegal, through Mali and Algeria (which was actually off-limits to travelers), and on to Kenya.

For about 25 years, Lauré has stayed in Africa for long periods of time, covered various photography stories, and then returned home to New York. Now, he says, “I’ve reversed this—Africa is my home, and I visit New York several times a year.” As he puts it, “I’ve paid my dues.” (One of his most compelling reasons for coming to New York is to see his daughter, Mirella.)

A band performs in a music festival in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town (not the famous New York festival during the summer of ’69).

He’s lived in communes in Berkeley, San Francisco, and other areas, and Lauré says he can really connect to ceremonies that occur around the world. He has the advantage of being on hand when various events happen in Africa, and says he works closely with his subjects. His work runs the gamut of photographing a Moroccan wedding that spanned several days to treacherous mining conditions in southern Africa. He’s documented the Kuomboka of the Lozi people in Zambia, and a Samburu circumcision ceremony in Kenya.

He applauds important political figures like Nelson Mandela—“Because of him, I was able to get into places like this.” Lauré emphasizes that he is first and foremost a people photographer, and loves to capture joyous occasions on film: “I don’t do massacres or photograph dead people. I prefer to be with people at a party.” He’s definitely had occasions to document this, as he’s seen the departure of Colonial power in several countries, and the resulting celebrations.

A traditional Muslim wedding ceremony in Morocco.

As for his photo equipment, “I have all the Nikons up to the F4, like a good photojournalist,” he says. “I need rugged cameras that I can beat up.” He owns a wide array of Nikkor lenses, and says he uses mostly a 80–200mm. Lauré uses Kodak Ektachrome E100VS, Ektachrome E200, Fujichrome Provia 400F, and Fujicolor Reala films. “I prefer to use just a few films and push them,” he says.

Lauré works with various photographic agents and with several writers—and says that he sells a lot of work in Europe as well. His images have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, National Geographic, The World & I, M.I.T. Magazine, Institutional Investor, and The Rolling Stone. His additional clientele includes DeBeers, Grolier (the publisher of Lauré’s educational series of books), Anglo-American, and the United Nations.

A boy carrying loot during the Chicago riots of 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Africa According to Lauré
In the beginning, “I was a little burned out from the ’60s,” Lauré remarks. “And I thought Africa was a terrific place to be.” He feels that he’s gotten a great education in his chosen field: “I’ve added 20 years to my career by moving to Cape Town.” He says that he loves telling the story of Africa, and that Africatrek bears his design and layout. “I’m never bored,” he exclaims. “I really enjoy what I do and love being here for the people.” If anything, he says, he’s been accused of being “too involved.”

Ettagale Blauer, the co-author of Africatrek, comments, “This book is truly the expression of Jason’s time in Africa—it’s a highly personal account, and not what you’re likely to read about in the news. It’s his Africa.”

You can see more of Jason Lauré’s images by visiting www.agpix.com/africatrek.

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