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IntroductionTHE WINDING PATH TO WORLD KNOWLEDGE
Olivier Föllmi is not trying to document the lives of the people he visits around the world. He is on the search for higher ground, for what connects people to their landscape where they have put down their roots. It is a path of intense insight – into the basic correlations in the widest sense among people, nature, and religion – that determines his life as a photographer.
Together with Danielle Föllmi, who was an internationally practicing doctor and today conducts sociological research, he has been transmuting the experiences gained over long and intense travel and the spiritual heritage of humanity into images since 1984. Olivier Föllmi: “I try to reflect the intensity of a moment shared. And that intensity starts when the notion of time disappears. The more intense the moment, the more time seems less important. My photos are therefore timeless. When you’re up on a mountain, at one with nature, the perception of space is modified by the immensity of nature and the feeling of how fragile man is.”
For decades Olivier Föllmi has taken trips to the cultural hearts of countries in Asia, Africa, and North America. He takes his time, spending months or years in distant areas to get to know closely and depict the people there, their beliefs and their feelings. He calmly encounters ancient civilizations, which from their outset have maintained an inspiration that has retained its validity for life today. Above all, the mountain regions of the Himalayas and its native Buddhism have from the very beginning influenced his thoughts, feelings, and work.
Danielle and Olivier Föllmi call themselves travelers and humanists; it is their goal to collect the wisdom of humanity in images and the texts of major thinkers and to pass them along to others in publications, editions, and large-scale exhibitions. Oliver Föllmi has published 18 books of images thus far and has received numerous awards for his commitment.
1976-79 Expeditions reporter (press photographer) in Afghanistan, India and Nepal 1979-86 Travel guide with focus on Himalayan culture 1984-87 Photographic lectures on the future of Tibet 1988 Photographer and mountain climber for the Höhen Expedition in Central Asia 1991-2008 Travels through Chile, Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, India, Bolivia, Kirgizstan and Mongolia 1998-1999 Co-founder of HOPE (Humanity Organization for People and Education) with his wife Danielle, an association to support traditional values; wrote, filmed, and directed films on the Himalaya’s with his wife 2000 Photographer of the Dalai Lama during his visit to FranceAwards
2008 Recognized by LIFE magazine as on of the world 50 best photographers (1980) 2001 Awarded, together with his wife Danielle, the silver medal of Société d’Encouragement au Progrès in Paris 2000 Audience’s prize of the fourth Grésivaudan film festival for the film Les Bergers de l’Hiver 1999 Nominated for the « visa d’or » in Perpignan at the photojournalism festival Visa pour l’image for “Les forçats de l’Himalaya” 1991 Prix photo reporter, Prix de la presse 1991 Grand prize of the Adventure film festival in Royan 1990 Award from World Press Photo 1983 Grand prize of the Adventure film festival in Royan 1982 Grand prize of the international slide show festival in Châtel 1980 First « prix de France » for photography