As so often, says Eric Bouvet, the stage was set, the actors ready. “You get this amazing orchestra,” he says, “and you’re the conductor. You decide your point of view, your frame, you hit the button. A second either way, it wouldn’t have worked.”
A five-time World Press Photo winner, Bouvet has covered conflicts from Afghanistan to Sudan, Iraq to Somalia, Chechnya to Lebanon. His Fujis have recorded the fall of the Wall, the release of Mandela, Tiananmen Square, for Time, Life, Paris Match.
These days, as a Fuji ambassador, he works more on documentaries with large-format cameras. But a phone is “relatively high quality, and it’s practical. I’ve had a double page in Paris Match with my phone, at a demo where photographers had been banned.”
This time, he was on the approach to Mont Buet, a 3,000 metre peak in the Haute-Savoie, south-east France. “It was 6.30am in August, the sun was just getting going in the background,” he says. “I was moving slowly, I had 30kg of large-format equipment in my bag.”
The ibex “couldn’t care less about me. He was just there, magnificent, on his stage. Maybe he sensed I was respectful of nature, of the light, the Earth, animals. Whatever, it was a magical moment. I had my point of view, I hit the button.”
Photography, for Bouvet, is “a means to connect – to go to extraordinary places, meet extraordinary people doing extraordinary things”. Smartphones mean “billions of people are now taking photos. Are they all photographers? That’s another question.”