Benoit Lange was born in 1965 in Morgins, Switzerland, into a family of modest craftsmen. His parents never really traveled, and the first time they flew it was thanks to their son who took them to Calcutta.
After a peaceful and happy childhood in the mountains of the Valais, he followed for 6 years several training courses in the food trade: baker, pastry chef, cook and dietitian. His professional path was to continue towards training at the Lausanne hotel school.
Before starting this training, he took a sabbatical year to travel around the world. His meeting with Doctor Jack Preger changed his destiny. He became a humanist photographer and hired to testify and support the work of the street doctor. Having never sought to become a professional, it was initially with the intention of giving testimony that he composed his work from his first shots.
Impregnated entirely with the incredible city of Calcutta, he was as if magnetized by the city, even prevented from continuing his journey. "I have traversed this mega-city in all directions, nourishing myself as much of its beauty as of its sufferings. Laughing and crying with it over its broken humanity, hoping that one day it would revive from its ashes. I loved as much as hated. Even today she capsizes me. "
“I am often asked at what point in my career I opted for black-white photography as well as the reason for this choice. I specify that during my second trip to Calcutta, still far from thinking of becoming a professional photographer one day, I was equipped in all and for everything with a Nikon FM2, 5 color films and 5 black and white films.
My mission at the time was to take photographs of life at Dr. Jack Preger's clinic.
In my eyes, it was the best way to testify to the extraordinary work of the street doctor,
as well as human reality, made of fights and hope, of the patients of Middleton Row.
Discovered by winning the first prize in the Arles professional days competition, he became a black-white photographer who never stopped exhibiting, and publishing books for the sole purpose of supporting Calcutta Rescue projects.
Working for some time with the Gamma agency, he had to face the fact that his work was too slow to feed an agency approach: he lacked the news, the sensational. He returned dozens of times to Bengal, then to Ethiopia, to Burkina to know and better understand his photographic subjects before immortalizing them.
For the needs of his engagements, he produced for television 3 documentaries on the street doctor.
Throughout his life, the English doctor refused to allow anyone to film him. But by dint of obstinacy and friendship, after 25 years at his side, Benoit Lange received the endorsement of Jack Preger to direct the only feature film in his life: Dr Jack. (Dr jack.ch )
Today more than ever Benoit Lange works photography in direct proximity in difficult and committed reports.
Even if Calcutta was the trigger of my work, finally it is as if I had melted from that moment in an approach of the human which was going to fill me.
Proximity to bodies is always the order of the day. To be in the picture with my subject, I hold the camera on my chest to allow our eyes to stay in the light of the exchange. Indeed, I never wear a camera over the shoulder, it is by a wrist strap that I handle the device, so it seems to be an extension of my hand.
When I walk in the streets, or on the paths, there is then no technological obstacle to meeting.
In a world so unbalanced where happiness and wealth are so badly distributed, we all play our part and have our share of responsibility. For the committed photographer, if you want to live happily in the northern hemisphere, you cannot live in oblivion of the south. Photographers, like artists, have a role - often even a leading role - to play. Photography is a vector of emotions and compassion.
My choice to avoid the miserable photography which inevitably calls for pity, has for primary goal to restore the human being in his dignity and his right to happiness. Gestures as simple as getting up to the subject by carrying his camera in his chest, giving him his gaze and his time go totally in this direction. When the right to the image, to testify, meets the right to the person, it is not always easy to make these two essential approaches meet. So in these cases I always ask myself the same question: would my subject feel betrayed if he saw himself in the photo I just took?
Where does the authorized intrusion in the intimate end, see the intimate suffering? During the years spent in street clinics I have regularly been faced with choices, ethical assessments to decide: photographic gesture or not? Am I allowed to take the photograph in what the subject lets me see at this moment? Is my right guaranteed by his only confidence in me?
When I speak of human and photographic immersion I necessarily go through the proximity step. The intimacy that allows you to receive the moments that are offered.
You don't cheat without zooming, you are naked in front of your subject.
I chose photography not as a goal but as a means of telling emotion and hope. My photos are the testimony of thousands of exchanges. If they deserve to be shown, they want above all to testify.