Vasantha Yogananthan was born in 1985 and lives and works in Paris, France. He is passionate about human stories and dedicates himself to long-term projects. When he discovered Piémanson beach, and its occupants in 2009, he started to work on a documentary series that he finished in 2013. “Piémanson” has been widely exhibited (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, Musée Albert-Kahn, Paris). Along with his work as a photographer, Vasantha Yogananthan has co-founded a publishing house named Chose Commune. His first book “Piémanson” – nominated for both MACK First Book Award and Kassel FotoBook Festival Best Book of the Year – is now sold out. Today we share his series titledPiémanson, Vasantha’s documentary work of the inhabitants of France’s last wild beach.
“Piémanson” is an exploration of daily life on the last wild beach in France. The beach’s history began in the 1970s when locals set up camp there with no rights or deeds. Nowadays, thousands of campers from all over Europe get together every summer season, looking for a freedom that they can’t find anywhere else. I have camped with the inhabitants of Piémanson from 2009 to 2013.
Representation was a serious issue here, as the Piemanson community has historically been looked down on. Piémanson’s inhabitants are not hippies nor gypsies – they are regular families who have come back every year since the Seventies. For the most part they are people who can’t afford to spend holiday anywhere else.
It was important to me to represent my subjects with empathy. I tried to photograph with another distance – not being to close, not being to far. At the end, this stories is not about taking position for or against the beach but to give a particular view of its everyday life.”
In November 2012, Vasantha Yogananthan won the Bourse du Talent Landscape Photographie.com. In March 2013, he was selected among the finalists of the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. In March 2014, he was selected among the 30 photographers of the “Top 30 under Thirty” organized by Magnum Photos. Later the same year he was selected among the 9 finalists of the Magnum Photographic International Award. Vasantha Yogananthan was also awarded a contemporary documentary photography grant from the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (French Minister of Arts) in January 2014 and a grant from the SCAM institution in July 2014 to help fund a new project in India and Sri-Lanka about the epic “The Ramayana”. In September 2014, he was also shortlisted among the 4 finalists of the Prix de Photographie de l’Académie des beaux-arts (Paris).
To view more of Vasantha’s work please visit his website.