Brice Portolano | Reportage & Travel | FMA Le Bureau

Brice Portolano

Photography

Brice Portolano was born in 1991 and grew up in Provence before studying at La Sorbonne and École des Gobelins, Paris. Driven by the love of travel and open spaces, he runs a long-term book project "No Signal" about men and women returning to nature at a time when more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas.From Alaska to Mongolia, Siberia and Lapland, witness of his time, Brice also has a large number of followers and fans on IG, nearly 66k who live the adventure with him.

He also publishes his work in the press and works in command for advertisers who seek the authenticity behind the story stelling. Brice’ s intimate relation with nature places him into a generation of pionner-photographers related to new ways of living the interaction between human and nature.

Unplugged, Argentina

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Unplugged
Neuquén Province, Argentina - 2020

Located in the high-plateaux of northern Patagonia stands the cattle farm of a gaucho family. For the past 6 years, Sky, her husband Luciano and their 5 years-old son Leo have been living a simple and self-reliant life, close to nature.

Battered by strong winds all year round and heavy snowfalls in the winter, this rugged and remote area desn’t offers any signal nor any service to its few inhabitants. While solar-panels provide the family basic lighting at night, a natural spring brings them freshwater and irrigates the vast steppe where the family’s 300 cows and their herds of goats, sheep and horses graze all day. Dairy products such as raw milk, butter and cream are kept fresh in the stream running from the spring at a constant temperature of 8°C, and goat or lamb meat is usually hanged outside before being cooked in a stew or on the fire.

Every summer, Sky and Luciano gather their cattle for a several days-long cat- tle-drive to the higher grazing grounds up in the Andes mountains. With the help of a few other gauchos, they’ll bring their cattle through the valleys, rivers and mountains, their ponchos covered in the dust raised by the cattle.

A timeless way of living in these remote mountains where most inhabitants have moved to the cities, following employment opportunities and higher stan- dards of living. The repetitive droughts and difficulties that come with such a lifestyle have led many traditional gauchos to chose another path, but for Sky who was born in Colorado and chose this life consciously at the age of 18, this is not an option:

“Every time in travel to the city, I feel a huge emptiness. It’s very interesting. It makes me realize I’m very connected to nature and to this life.”

But she’s aware her family might not be able to live like this forever: “I’m quite conscious that it may not last a lot longer. We’re worried about the droughts... It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop soon. A big cattle operation is perhaps not something for the future.” says Sky, wisely.

In the meantime, and for as long as they can, the family will keep living un- plugged, at their own pace.

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Elk Hunter, Utah

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ELK THE HUNTER
Salt Lake City, Utah - USA 2013-2015

By authorizing the use of growth hormones and vaccines in industrial farms, the Food and Drug Administration has made it possible to transform meat into a plentiful, accessible and inexpensive commodity. While processed foods are replacing traditional cooking, fruits and vegetables are also undergoing this quest to maximize yields through the intensive use of pesticides and GMOs.

In parallel with these many changes in the agri-food industry during the 20th century, the United States is now seeing the emergence of initiatives that stand in the way of this race for performance. Their goal is to bypass the conventional industry built around mass consumption and rediscover "real" food.

Ben and Katherine live in the western United States, only 5km from downtown Salt Lake City. In recent years, they have decided to produce almost all the food they consume and raise geese, chickens and ducks in their garden. They also grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in their vegetable garden while wine, cider and beer ferment in their cellar.


Three years ago, they made the decision to go further towards food self-sufficiency and to ensure almost all their meat consumption. Every fall, during the first snows of the year, Ben goes to the mountains of northeastern Utah to hunt game at more than 3000m altitude. On horseback and on foot, he tracks the elk for several days - sometimes a week - before returning home to the horses laden with meat.

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Keep Exploring

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Baikal, Siberia

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In the Taïga, Mongolia

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IN THE TAÏGA
MONGOLIA, 2018

Zaya’s story is the 6th chapter of “No Signal”, a long-term project about people who have decided to leave the city and reconnect with nature.

As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Boulder, Colorado, Zaya never thought she would one day become a reindeer herder and live in the middle of the taiga. “At the time I didn’t know that reindeer existed !” she’ll admit, laughing, before taking a look outside of her tepee.

It was only when she got back to Mongolia at the age of 19 that Zaya discov- ered the taïga, a type of swampy coniferous forest covering most of Siberia.

After studying international relations in Shanghai, the young woman is hired by an NGO that works to protect and support a well-known nomadic tribe: the Tsaatan, also known as Dhuka.

Zaya discovers a world that she thought belonged to the past. She meets Oltsan, a young reindeer herder who soon becomes her husband, and adopts his nomadic way of life. She becomes a reindeer herder herself as they live in a tepee, foraging and hunting for their own food... Or at least they were until 2011 when hunting was banned in the area, making the life of the Tsaatan com- munity much more difficult.

“Living in a tepee can be challenging: the temperatures sometimes drop down to -50°C in the winter. Those days are hard but now I’m used to it. It’s crazy how quickly your body can adapt.”

The extreme isolation of this region makes trips to the city rare and difficult: it takes 3 days to drive to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. One day on horseback and two days by car. A long trip that Zaya makes every winter to visit her family for Christmas.

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