Save for the image above, it's almost a disservice to view Jean Francois Joly's work on such a small scale via the internet, and yet even by this most inadequate of means, it's still obvious how much his portraiture truly shines. I'm sure it must be the case that once again I'm just the last to know (hell, I just heard of Vanessa Winship the other day), but this guy pumps out these incredibly moving and memorable B&W portraits on location like second nature. Sure, you say, but the image above is taken in a pretty dramatic environment- of course it's gonna be intense. But take a good look at all his work- wherever he works, whomever he shoots, he still somehow, someway manages to identify and emphasize those elements that most bring that particular portrait to life. The picture above in lesser hands could just as easily ended up as yet another "pity the child in a dump" shot, instead of rising to the iconic level of... god, where does one begin?!
Contrast his work with those new and celebrated portrait photographers who depict everyone with all the strength and conviction of yesterday's Kleenex. Perhaps Joly's style is just too old school or photojournalistic to be celebrated as "fine art" in today's market. I don't know (or care), I'm just happy to have "discovered" him!