Many of my close friends are scientists. Biologists, mathematicians, economists… When I am with non-scientist friends or acquaintances, they always have trouble with the idea that I have so many friends who are scientists. Even more than that, without meeting them, they imagine our dinner party conversations - boring, with a lot of intellectual talk. In fact the opposite is the case. Scientists like thinking, it’s true, but like other people they also like having fun, drinking beer, eating a good meal, playing games, music, running, or other sports. They struggle with preparing their taxes, complain about the price of gas; work hard at raising their children… In other words, they are like you and me.
The idea of the project took shape when I was with a scientist friend. We met another person and he was very outgoing and funny. When he discovered my friend was a scientist, his attitude changed completely. He started to ask very serious questions… The jokes & laughter were gone… Like many people, he imagined scientists don’t like laughing, and he needed to put on his “smart guy” mask to avoid being looked down upon.
This was the starting point of “The Human Face of Science”. I asked my friends first, acquaintances second and then friends of friends to pose for me and be a part of this project. Some people don’t get the point and ask me why I took these pictures showing scientists looking unscientific, no white coats, no microscopes, and no pipettes. But this is the objective of the project. If people want to see scientist as a scientist you can open any book or magazine for the clichéd image. To see them as “normal” people is rarer.
Scientists need to communicate more with regular people. They are developing ideas that will change all our lives. This project is my contribution to building a bridge between us.
Photography : Charles Camarda Written by : Nathalie Huet & Charles Camarda Translation : Nathalie Huet