Up to ten minutes ago I didn't know who the heck was Rémi Ochlik. But now I know: a young guy and photographer, a lucky, happy guy, who was killed hours ago as he was covering a war.
Right after his girlfriend, Blàchere, learned that he got killed, she wrote him this letter:
I’ve never found it so difficult to write. My dictionaries are
useless. I can already hear you saying, “Sweet Blachère.” So instead I
made a list of everything I loved about you.
My angel, my love:
I loved it when you made lists of things you wanted, and you wanted a
Harley Davidson, a loft, a 22,000-euro titanium Leica, and you would
say to me, “What? You work at Paris Match, don’t you?”
I loved it when you called me Blachère, or Blacherounette, when you had something you wanted to ask me.
I loved it that you wanted to find a country just for the two of us where we could go every year together on assignment.
I loved it when you talked about the arts, and painting, and
literature, and I couldn’t understand a thing. You taught me so much.
I loved it how in the field you would sink into the shadows, making
people forget you were there so you could take better pictures.
I loved to see you look every morning at photo sites and hear you say, “Look at what they’re doing. I suck, Blachère.”
I loved it when you recorded L’amour est dans le pré for us and we
watched it curled up under a blanket like teenagers, with our kitten
between us. You kept saying, “You better not tell anyone about this.”
I loved watching you make me coffee every morning, and after eight months, it was actually good!
I loved it when you said you wanted to have two children, a boy and a girl.
I loved it even more when you pestered me in front our friends about
having kids: “Look at Thib, Mat, Fred. Their girls are cool, and they’re
I loved it that you decided you wanted to go to Libya, Nigeria and Burma, then Syria, then Tulles, all within five minutes.
I loved it when you told me, “Blachère, you’re making me childish. I’m becoming like you.”
I loved it when I said that you were the best photographer in the world and you said, “Well, you’re biased.”
I loved to see you blush when I told you I was crazy about you.
I loved our routine, our life together, the nights we’d stay up late
watching Dexter. I was smiling so long as I was next to you.
I loved it how at night you would take out your contact lenses and
put on your thick glasses. I’d call you Harry Potter and you hated it.
You called me Emilie.
I loved it when you told me that you didn’t miss me at all.
I loved it when you told me you were jealous of Eric, of Ivan, of Pierre, jealous of everyone, even Marcelle, my cat.
I loved it when you kidnapped Marcelle when I was on assignment and
took her home so she would get used to your cat, and we could all live
together, one happy family.
I loved it when you were scared to meet my mother.
I loved it when you took me to Honfleur, and we stopped along the highway and ate a Mars bar and drank a Coke.
I loved it when you told me, “I’m ugly, Blachère, you’re blinded by love.”
I loved it when you left your toothbrush at my house. I took a
picture of it and showed it to my girlfriends. I almost posted it on
I loved how stroked my leg at red lights on your scooter.
I loved it how you held me tight in the morning, then again at night, as if we had been apart for months.
I loved watching you smoke at the window. You were so sexy. But like you said, I’m biased.
I loved to hear you say to Julien, your best friend, your brother, “Look out, Mama Squirrel’s here,” when I was waking up.
I loved it when you said at first, “Julien’s my wife, you’re my mistress.” After two months, it was the opposite. Sorry, Julien.
I loved your timid smile, the way you laughed, your almost feminine delicacy, your juvenile tenderness.
I loved it how you texted me every five minutes to ask me to marry
you, with emoticons and all. We promised each other we’d get hitched in
I loved it how you left me love letters in my notebooks when you came over to feed Marcelle.
I loved your courage, your admiration, your rigor. I’m so proud of
you, my angel. I admired you as a photojournalist and as a man. You’ve
become so big.
I loved it when you told me, “Blachère, we have our whole lives ahead of us.”
I loved to hear you tell me how everything was going to be alright
when I was depressed. If only I could hear you tell me that today.
I loved it so much how on February 10, a Friday, the last time we saw each other, you told me that I made you happy.
I could go on. I would have loved to spend my life adding to this
list. Ochlik, I loved you. I hope you know up there that I was more than
happy by your side. I was in bloom. With you, things were lovely,
sweet, and surprisingly intense. Our time together was magic. We were so
happy that we had to protect it from the invasions of our profession,
our passion, our second love.
We were prepared for everything, except for the worst. Ochlik, I
don’t know how I can go on without you. In Rome, you told me, “love is a
weakness.” You were wrong. Today I feel strong. At Christmas you gave
me a notebook and told me to, “write down the story of our lives and
read it to our kids.” I promise that I will tell the story of that life
we dreamed of so often, a life that I’m now going to have to live for
I’m not sure if you miss me, Ochlik. I miss you. Madly.
But I know that you are here. Inside of me. Near me. Near us. Today our nickname, Blachlik, makes sense.
One day I’ll join you, my love. But not yet. You would hate to see me
give up, let myself fade away. So I’m drying my tears, and watching
your favorite movies on repeat, the ones that made you happy, like
Singin’ in the Rain, and...
I'm singin' in the rain
Just singin' in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
And I'm happy again.
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark, up above,
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love.
I’m sure you’d rather see us pay you tribute by staying up all night
drinking and smoking. Don’t worry, it will happen, and the night’s not
My angel, give Lucas a kiss for me. Take care of yourself. Take care of us.
The beauty of Fan Ho's is due to its simplicity: two perfect triangles, one dark, the other light, and a slim rectangle on the left hand. The woman seems so little and calm. The composition is perfect, as it is the image.
I took the other picture at the Brandhorst Museum in München. The texture of the building is more complex due to the ceramic facade, which tourists love to photograph, and the windows. Here, the shadow is much smaller, so that the second triangle is missing. Still, the guy is standing in the same spot, but showing an active attitude towards the building.
"Under the influence of a world which no longer recognized the value of human life and human dignity, which had robbed man of his will and had made him an object to be exterminated (having planned, however, to make full use of him first—to the last ounce of his physical resources)— under this influence the personal ego finally suffered a loss of values. If the man in the concentration camp did not struggle against this in a last effort to save his self-respect, he lost the feeling of being an individual, a being with a mind, with inner freedom and personal value. He thought of himself then as only a part of an enormous mass of people; his existence descended to the level of animal life."