Vincent Laforet has always been in pursuit of a good story. There were times when this passion took him to a flooded New Orleans where the stench of death and despair were almost overwhelming. Sometimes, he found himself surrounded by the near-deafening cheers of spectators at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Then there were moments when the search for the story met resistance in the form of an automatic weapon in the hands of an angry and agitated Pakistani soldier. These situations and many others like them were inspired by his desire to tell a story with a camera.
Though Laforet has garnered awards and accolades in his career, including a Pulitzer Prize as a member of The New York Times staff covering the events following 9/11, it’s his latest incarnation as a filmmaker that has not only increased his profile, but also has led him on a completely different path as a storyteller.
"The end of 2008 is one of the single biggest moments for me," Laforet says, referring to the release of his short film Reverie, which was the first video produced using the video capability of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. "People talk a lot about how it changed HDSLRs and video, and the impact it has had, but I generally focus on how it changed my life. I had always wanted to be a filmmaker and wanted to make the transition, but I never knew when or how. I was so established in the still photography world that the idea of making a career jump, especially in this economy, seemed a little suicidal. I had a life created behind 18 years of work and contacts, and now I was entering a completely different field, where I didn’t know anyone. I knew the risks, but at that point in my life, I just didn’t care."
The world of a career photojournalist was rapidly changing in ways that didn’t favor the photographer. The shuttering of magazines, reductions in staff and loss of advertising revenue were creating an environment where a working photographer faced greater difficulty in making a living, even photographers with an established and lauded career like Laforet.
"Three big things were happening for me around that time," he says. "The first was that I was having my second child, and the cost of staying and living in New York was a big factor. The other was that the economy was having a big downturn, and the editorial market was being severely impacted. The third thing was getting the use of the 5D Mark II."
The prerelease camera wasn’t meant for him and was intended for another photographer to evaluate and use. Laforet coincidentally had been at the Canon offices, and it was only through a tenacious persistence that he was permitted the use of the camera for less than 48 hours. Reverie was the result, and it changed everything.