Snowed-In: Frozen Nomads of the French Alps by Laure Maugeais is a Photostory taken in black and white, based on those who live a simpler lifestyle in mobile homes and how they survive in the winter.

For some it is the intended experience of having an adventure. For others perhaps it is their Plan B, or C or D, after all the alternatives have failed. Regardless of how one comes to find oneself living in a mobile home, cut-off by snow for the duration of the harsh winter, it is a predicament which one usually does not intend to repeat. There are some however for whom it is simply their choice of lifestyle, not a fall-back solution at all. They have given up the material goals and comforts of our consumer focused world and have embraced life on the road, traveling seasonally from one job to another one.

Independence such as this nevertheless comes with its own hefty challenges, surviving the harsh winters is probably the greatest. The extreme cold of the Alps during winter freezes pipes and the energy generating solar panels that normally power this lifestyle with such efficiency struggle to provide enough heat or light even for these tiny homes.

It takes a special character to survive autonomously in the mountain during this part of the year. In a handful of municipalities there are camping areas that may provide basic facilities such as additional electricity, toilets and, when it is not frozen, a source of clean water. But these services, managed by local city councils and centers of social action, cost money and are, for the truly autonomous, an expensive luxury. Even if these seasonal travellers decide to stay and pay the rent, they remain cut off for a few months, snowed-in, anchored in place, their nomadic wanderings frozen for a time.

– Laure Maugeais

I am particularly drawn to the use of light within the images, the white snow appearing crisp again the blacks of other objects.

The series of images documents the action as it takes place both inside and outside of the mobile home. Angles are considered very well and there are instances within the photography where it becomes quite abstract and takes on a very documentary style practise. One of the photographs that strikes me most was where the man in the very centre and foreground of the image was completely blurred and the focus was drawn to either side of him. It is abstract captures like this that create an authentic feel about the narrative and the story.

These are a few images from the selection of work that was available. I love the contrast between the inside and the outside shots, and how the light varies and changes because of the colours. The white becomes bright and contrasts with the dark of the inside of the home, but compliments the series.

Light is an important consideration within photography and the photographer has captured it incredibly well in my opinion in this short narrative. The portraits featured in the story are well shot, candid and not always posed. The people look comfortable and happy. I have noticed there seems to be a lot of action photographs which I personally like, but in the photographs with people in, often we are just shown the backs of them doing the action which I feel takes away from the subject and detaches us. I think it could have been better to see their faces more rather than the backs of heads, but this may have been an aesthetic chosen by the photographer. However, in terms of composition the photographer has composed her images very well, capturing small details and setting the context by photographing a wide range of things around her main topic.

I think the story has good narrative because we can see from the short series of images, the struggle of the people in the winter months that has been highlighted by the photographer. Although without the added context this might not be apparent, it still makes for compelling viewing.

If I were to link this work into the ideas for my own, the one thing I’d take away from it is the use of candid shots and the fantastic use of light.

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