France: "there is a good amount of wandering around in my line of work"

What can photography tell us about prison?

Thierry Chantegret has made photography his life’s work since he was 19 years old. He attended a photography school in Toulouse before becoming assistant fashion photographer, a career that included a great deal of travelling. He then worked for a marketing agency, and then, in a laboratory, where, among other things, he created exhibition prints for photographers from the Magnum agency. For the past 20 years, he has focused on his work as an author: institutional commissions, internships, exhibitions, and in particular, workshops in schools.

In 2021, he joined the team of the Controller-General for Places of Deprivation of Liberty (CGLPL). This independent administrative authority is permitted to visit any facility where people are imprisoned: psychiatric hospitals, police custody cells, closed educational centres, detention centres, and prisons. The visits are documented in reports that describe prisoners’ living conditions in detail.

In this team, is the role of photographer a special one? Prison Insider met with Thierry Chantegret. Interview

Crumbling walls and derelict cells; the evidence speaks for itself.

I am practically the only one, along with the head of mission, who gets to go everywhere.

Lighting and framing help create a certain aesthetic.