May 4, 1968

Photographs by French photojournalist Gilles Caron appear in Paris Match

Gilles Caron was a French photojournalist who, like Don McCullin, had made his name covering Vietnam and the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. He arrived in Biafra for the first time in the spring of 1968, after traveling to Nigeria to retrieve the body of a colleague who had been killed covering the early days of the war. In April 1968, the outcome of the war was far from certain, and the Biafrans had recently made a successful attack on a FMG convoy that killed 6000 Nigerian soldiers. Many of Caron’s photographs from this trip have a hauntingly beautiful quality, even when they also serve as documents of the horror of war.

Caron made two other trips to Biafra in 1968, and subsequent trips focused more on civilian suffering and the increasing starvation and disease among the population. As Clyde Cookman writes, “he chose expressions, gestures, and body language that gave his subjects dignity, despite their suffering.” Cookman’s work largely appeared in European magazines, particularly in France, where there was very strong pro-Biafran sentiment. In 1970, Gilles Caron went to cover the conflict in Cambodia, where he disappeared and was presumed killed.

A young Biafran carrying weapons, Giles Caron, 1968.
See Also:

Cookman, Claude. “Gilles Caron’s Coverage of the Crisis in Biafra.” Visual Communication Quarterly 15:4 (December 2008):226-242. 

Gilles Caron: The Conflict Within. Short video documenting an exhibition of Caron’s photographs. In French with English subtitles.