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Clochard (noun)

clo·chard | klo-'shär          


In France, someone who has deliberately chosen to live on the fringes of society and its constraints.


In the barn at a farm in Ramona, California where Walt passed some time ago, we found a box that contained a large, tattered envelope. In the envelope were the clochard prints and a note that said he had sent the story to a magazine whose editors had not published it, had not paid him and had returned the prints - but not the negatives.  Thus the story would have died in that old, falling-apart envelope.


But through the technology of today, and the creative direction of Minh Thai and his team Cheyenne, German, and Ora, the prints were cleaned, toned, and brought back to life so that the story of the clochards working the great central market of Paris can, many, many years later, be told.




The Author:


Walt was always on the move or wanting to be. He was intensely interested in humanity, in its extraordinary variations, and in matters of the spirit, in the broadest sense, the stars overhead, the great creative force that made, and is still making, the vastness out there.


I see him most easily with a either camera or a fishing rod in hand. We went on trips into the Baja peninsula, driving an old Land Rover on rough dirt roads out to the Pacific, staying for ten days, sometimes more. When the tide was out, he generally had a Pentax in hand, and when the tide was coming in, we were all going down to the point to fish for perch and cobina.


His early black and whites, seen here, were taken after he fought in World War II as an American GI carrying a rifle first into Normandy and from there into Germany. He stayed on in Paris afterwards.


The scenes he captured reflected two central themes that existed throughout his work: humanity and trade, until late in life when he was more isolated and focused on the natural world on his farm in Ramona, California. In essence, these themes merged into one: the relation between humans. which was most clearly revealed in the great marketplace that fed Paris and much of France beyond.


Seen through the back-looking lens of time, the preacher's son, middle-distance runner, soldier and soon-to-be father brings the clochards back to black-and-white life, dancing, laughing, avoiding the police, drinking red wine and at the end of their daily rhythm, sleeping on straw under packing crates.


~Bill Girdner


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