PhotographerJeppe Bøje Nielsen
PrizePress / Feature Story
Entry Description

In Lourdes, you can not photograph miracles or faith. One can only photograph the symbols thereof - or the cliches, if you will: A praying man, a nun, a priest who blesses a faithful, and the processions of sick individuals. As outsiders we are left to wonder: "Is it really so?" I needed to create empathy and emotions in my pictures. I have attempted to do that, through a kind of 'parallel photographic universe.' The Grotto of Lourdes is a parallel universe in the sense, that it transcends man, prayers, blessings and miracles. So I went looking for situations and people that I felt portrayed this transcendental reality at the Grotto. It's also the attempt at capturing what the eye cannot see in Lourdes–emotion. There are stories which are right there in front of everyone, but remain hidden to the eye, because it is not sought out. I met Eric Saint-Germier in Lourdes. He despised the Grotto, yet he couldn't be indifferent to it. His cancer had aged him considerably, yet his honesty was humbling. A bitter man afraid of dying, was what he must have seemed like to anyone just meeting him. But after a few days, we had shared something that even our closest friends didn't know of us. He was terribly afraid of dying, and he felt that he had wasted his life. “The person you're looking at is not here anymore,” he told me. He allowed me to photograph him. I had told him, that I wasn't looking to make his missing teeth stand out – I wanted him to feel the pride he had had in his life. The best of whom he was. He died on October 15th 2012, six weeks after our initial meeting – and before he could see any part of the story.