Photography, like faith and religion, should connect directly with human experience. Real and lived emotions, tensions and harmonies fill my work, they unite their subjects across cultures, history, and religions.
These photographs document the 13 May 2017, the 100th Anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady of Fátima, Portugal. Devotion, pilgrimage, and faith are at the fore of these images. In recent years Fátima has received 5-6 million pilgrims a year. My objective has been to document these many different pilgrims and their journeys.
“Each shrine reveals one part of the mission of Mary and each one has a particular charisma, without contradicting the others.”
– Shrine of Lourdes
The Fatima pilgrim, or peregrine, meditates on Our Lady’s direct interception of lived human experience. It is both a spiritual and physical journey, it is passion in joy and pain. The pilgrims push themselves to the furthest limit, some complete the last remaining kilometers on their knees. I have sought to capture these raw and passionate moments – somewhere between the human and divine.
“Whenever we look at Mary, we strengthen our belief in the revolutionary force of tenderness and affection. In Her, we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong, who do not need to mistreat others in order to feel important (…). This dynamic of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and of the way to treat others, is what makes it a model for evangelization.”
– Pope Francis, Fátima, 2017
Our Lady is a creative force for change. These photographs are taken in Fatima, Portugal but the underlying core human values are ones which resonate with my work in the Cameroon or Mozambique. Photography also creates change: in Africa, it was my tool to work directly with communities as well as document their lived experience and society’s failings. These are my artistic preoccupations and Fatima has been a rich source of inspiration, a place where the divine force for change works directly into the human experience.