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Le grand silence: the touching story of a young shepherd


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Photographer Clémentine Schneidermann is documenting the life of her brother Nicolas, who has chosen a solitary life as a shepherd in Southern France, in a series called “Le grand silence” and sometimes “We thought you were gone”.

Failure in general can lead people into making some strange decisions. Such is the case of 21-year-old Nicolas, who has decided to leave everything behind at the age of 17 due to school failure.

Nicolas is now living as a shepherd in Southern France and he is having his life documented by her sister. Clémentine Schneidermann is a photographer and she has reconnected with her brother, while deciding to track his “evolution” through photography.

Clémentine Schneidermann documents the life of her brother who has chosen to become a shepherd

Growing up in Paris means that you know little about life in the wildernerness. However, Clémentine Schneidermann says that her brother has still decided to make this step, so he has become a shepherd at the age of 17.

When he left home, nobody really knew where he went. This is why Clémentine’s project is sometimes referred to as “We thought you were gone”.

Shortly after his disappearance, the photographer reconnected with Nicolas who was living in a caravan and refused to speak to anyone. As a result, the project is referred to as “Le grand silence” on Clémentine’s website.

The name is far less important than the story of Nicolas, who is still hating today’s society, and the photographer’s amazing work. These photos are everything a documentary project should be, as they are helping viewers to sympathize with the subject.

21-year-old Nicolas is content with his life and is slowly reconnecting with his family

Despite the fact that Clémentine Schneidermann gets in touch with Nicolas a few times a year, she is still asking herself how a 21-year-old can live such a secluded life.

She says that her brother spend his winter in a sleeping bag, but he never complains. Moreover, she still has the courage to call himself the “mountain hobo”, further shaping his mysterious character.

Living in isolation while taking care of his dogs and sheep, Nicolas appears to be pleased with his situation. His hatred against the society is still alive, but he is slowly reconnecting with the rest of his family by talking on the phone with his mother.

More details about the project as well as more photos can be found at the artist’s official website, where you can also send your best wishes to both Nicolas and Clémentine.

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