Language: Bilingual in English and French
Elephant offers an incomparable spectacle, that of an intimate face-to-face with the animal, here treated as a subject in its own right, on an equal footing with man, and it encourages us to take the time to contemplate it, to better question our relationship to the wild world and our place in it. And if the photographer has long since chosen black and white, it is to better play with the incomparable light of Africa, its singular purity that gives the feeling of being in direct contact with the material, without filter. Laurent Baheux's approach is not that of a naturalist or ethology-loving photographer, he does not seek to describe behaviour or to unravel the mystery of a sensitive area of the animal that has remained unknown until now.
What he finds with African elephants is the feeling of a rediscovered plenitude, of wonder at the world, of a rebirth, of a reconnection with the living. Far from the crowds and the urban world, it is in the heart of African national parks that he experiences the deep meaning of life and that he offers himself the luxury of slowness, essential when he is 'is about letting the animal approach. The elephant obliges man to humility. We are nothing compared to his power and his intelligence. It is he who decides on the meeting, or, on the contrary, who imposes his distance. We are only "tolerated guests", as Laurent Baheux reminds us. The elephant is not a predator and it is the man who threatens its existence today, competing with it for the control of a territory that is shrinking more and more every day. The pressure of human activities, the demographic growth are the dangers that endanger its survival.
As an extension of his militant commitment and his anti-speciesist discourse which seeks to break down the psychological barriers linked to the categorization of animals – wild, farmed, domesticated – according to their degree of utility or their "nuisance" power, Laurent Baheux provides new proof of the need to save elephants and protect their environment, not just because they populate our collective subconscious, from illustrated children's books to the travel stories of early explorers, but because they are closely linked to the balance of our planet and that they refer us, like mirrors, to our own finitude, ineluctable, we who resemble them so much, so strong and so fragile at the same time.
For nearly 20 years, Laurent Baheux has observed the upheavals of the wild world through his lens. A vocation that came to him “in reaction to the madness of men”. Born in 1970, in Poitiers, he made his debut as an autodidact in the early 1990s, during the time of film, as a photographer in the regional sports press. To find a place in the profession, he moved to Paris, where he worked for major photo agencies and media specialising in international sports news. In 2002, tired of city life and bored of the hectic pace of the sporting events calendar, he turned to Africa and the wildlife of large land mammals. In 2007, after 5 years of shooting in the savannah, he began to show his snapshots of wildlife captured on the spot, instinctively, at random from his encounters with animals. In 2009, he published his first work based on his African work: Terre des Lions then D’ivoire & d´ébène in 2011 In 2013, he became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program and participated in the Wild & Precious anti-poaching campaign. Since then, he has campaigned for the respect of living things and natural habitats, against captivity and animal exploitation and actively supports several organisations for the protection of animals and wild lands. Praised for their aesthetic strength and authenticity, Laurent's photos are the subject of books, publications, exhibitions, conferences and are shown in galleries in France and abroad. Since 2018, Laurent has been working with Sony Alpha cameras and Sony G Master lenses, and he has accepted to be one of the brand's ambassadors.