Written by by Francie Diep, CNN
Waving your arms to drive the spray into your face, all for a photo opportunity. It’s one of the more extreme examples of the potential dangers of dangerous environments — and an unavoidable reality for French photographer Franck Frizinga .
The photographer has been documenting the dangerous activities in remote locations worldwide for his latest book, “Wild What You Do.” The haunting series features pictures of people swimming in toxic lakes, playing with crocodiles in the wilds of Western Australia and living in jeeps surrounded by seagrass in Papua New Guinea.
“I go where no one else goes. I don’t want to photograph wealthy people,” Frizinga told CNN ahead of the launch of his book at the Magnum Gallery in London on Wednesday.
“If you’re lucky, I may photograph a model at a fashion show in Miami, in Paris or in Venice — I may even photograph the Pope in the Vatican or Vatican gardens.
“But on another day you may go to the bleakest, poorest island in the world, for example: if you’re lucky it’s a boat or a jeep. If you’re not, there’s no other means of transportation to get from A to B.”
Little more than a simple excuse
The environment has become an increasingly urgent concern for photographers such as Frizinga, who was born in France and raised in Bangladesh.
The photographer started exploring more remote locations due to his fascination with wildlife and a search for untouched beauty. In one shot, he hurls himself into a river in Korsangi, Cambodia to photograph a man-eating crocodile.
CNN’s Lorena Blas died in 2002 after a series of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
“I love what I do because I am a photographer and people are just being good at this. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s survival. That’s what photography is,” he said.
“It’s as if you’re sitting at a cafe and you go in and there’s four layers of butter on the plate…you pull the butter from the plate and all of a sudden this beautiful light goes down and the food looks better.”
In this instance, he said, he was at the specific mercy of something extraordinary. “A crocodile is not a delicious sandwich. I can tell you that. But the crocodile, in a small way, has helped me capture that moment because, in this moment, crocodiles are really fragile.
“They usually live around 5 to 8 meters and they can’t keep up with you. We are the ones making a mess of them…it’s my poor crocodile that is suffering.”
(As a side note, photographer Tran Thi Huy Nguyen — called one of the world’s most dangerous photographers by the Guinness Book of World Records — has been interviewed by CNN about the dangers of her work. Most recently, she demonstrated her skills during a gallery show in Bangkok in July.)
Thriving in the wilderness
But fear isn’t just something you feel when you walk into a dangerous place, Frizinga explained.
Like any photographer, he finds them inspiration and inspiration through fear. A photographer’s senses, he said, are constantly alert to the potential danger around them.
“I think some people hide and no one sees that they are having a special tension or fear inside. I’m absolutely sure.
“I don’t know if this or that set of moments has made me successful as a photographer because when you’re feeling fear in every step, you know that you are telling the truth in your pictures.”
If it’s a landscape he’s photographing, one of the fastest processes is transforming it into something new. And if the conditions look daunting, his fear is kept out in the open.
“I’m sure there’s something really beautiful and special about human weakness,” he said. “We are really a very slow and feeble creation. We are mindlessly walking through these lives…I only know I want to photograph humans having a fight with their fragility.”