RSF’s 100 photos for
the freedom of the press
Reporters Without Borders honours French photographer Patrick Chauvel with this year’s publication
March 14, 2022
Reporters Without Bordfers (RSF) published on March 3, 2022, its new album 100 photos pour la liberté de la presse dedicated to Patrick Chauvel, a legend of war reporting, who covered the most important conflicts of the last decades. The album is a dive into the reality of the war reporter’s job in the heart of tragic episodes that have left their mark on history.
Created in 1985, Reporters Without Borders is committed to the independence and pluralism of journalism. This benchmark organization supports journalists in the field through flagship actions, ranging from mobilization campaigns to aid and material security. Each year, RSF publishes the World Press Freedom Index, which has become a valuable tool for assessing the state of journalism around the world.
Tribute to 50 years of career of one of the greatest photo reporter
The cover of the very first issue of RSF 100 photos published in April 1993 illustrates a war scene: a young man seriously injured in Cambodia during a report. The man in the picture is none other than Patrick Chauvel himself. 30 years later, RSF honours his career and some of his strongest photos in a new album.
This last issue revisits through 100 photos the exceptional career of Patrick Chauvel through the jolts of History. In a career spanning 50 years, the reporter has covered more than 30 open conflicts and taken thousands of images, delivering as many fragments of history.
At the risk of his life, he managed to immortalize armies engaged in merciless combat, the scarred faces of civilian populations, and devastated landscapes transformed into war fields.
Founded in 1985, Reporters Without Borders is committed to the independence and pluralism of journalism.
Photographer, documentary filmmaker and writer, Patrick Chauvel has captured the highlights of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.
He took his first steps as a reporter during the Six Day War in Israel and then in Vietnam in 1968 where he found himself in the jungle with reconnaissance patrols. This experience allowed him to sell his first photos to the Associated Press and Reuters agencies.
In 1975, the reporter joined the Sygma agency and covered the wars of independence in Eritrea and Angola before leaving for Lebanon. Now a recognized photographer, he then became a contributor to Newsweek. Conflicts in Ireland, Chechnya, war of independence in Mozambique, war against the Khmer Rouge, the photographer is on all fronts. More recently, he covered the return of the Taliban in August 2021 in Afghanistan.
‘Photographer, documentary filmmaker and writer, Patrick Chauvel has captured the highlights of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.’
The man who defines himself as a “war reporter” has revealed the ferocity of the fighting, the vulnerability of the people, the devastated countries. In one of his photos, we perceive the solitude of a little girl on a Russian tank destroyed by Chechen fighters, left to herself in Chechnya. In other photos, we can see a soldier carrying a wounded child or the evacuation of a family in the middle of a sandstorm in Syria in 2019.
War reporter, a fragile and dangerous profession
His reporting also shows the fragility of the reporter’s job. Patrick Chauvel has risked his life several times to cover the world’s wars. Accused of espionage, he was imprisoned in 1978 during an offensive in Beirut by the Saiqa, a Palestinian group controlled by Syria, before being released thanks to the intervention of the French Embassy. A prisoner of the Khmer Rouge in the early 1980s, he narrowly escaped execution.
By unveiling the work of Patrick Chauvel, RSF illustrates the difficult conditions in which journalists work and the risks they take to bring information to the public. This latest issue highlights the necessity of the reporter’s profession and the crucial importance of press freedom. As the reporter himself puts it, “It is up to us journalists to seek out the truth and to spread it by any means necessary.” The objective: to inform and awaken the human conscience as close as possible to the truth of the facts.
“It is up to us, journalists, to seek the truth and to spread it by all means. Faced with the inevitability of events, our judgment is put to the test and the photographer’s eye only transmits what he sees: a snapshot of war. But as there are always several photographers, several journalists on the same conflict, this succession of testimonies will end up telling the “battle-history”, as close as possible to the truth of the facts” according to Patrick Chauvel.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is the world’s largest international organization for the defence of press freedom, understood as the fundamental human right to inform and be informed. There can be no freedom of conscience without knowledge of reality. rsf.org