Dysturb: Hard-to-Swallow Photojournalism Hits the Streets of Paris


What do you do when the usual outlets for photographic media choose not to show images you risked your life to capture? What is the next best way to make sure the world sees what is really happening?

It’s these questions that led French photojournalist Pierre Terdjman and his buddies to create something called Dysturb, a project that plasters ignored, hard-hitting and hard-to-swallow photojournalism all over the streets of Paris.

Terdjman explained the struggle that led to the creation of Dysturb in a recent interview with TIME:

Each time I finish a story, it’s the same struggle to get my images published. Magazines are rarely interested in showing what’s happening in Egypt, in Georgia, in Afghanistan. Sometimes they’ll publish one or two images, but that’s it. So, everything started from a very selfish idea. I wanted to show my photographs. I wanted to inform people, show them what I’d seen.


And so, after returning home from a trip to Central African Republic, 34-year-old Terdjman reached out to a few friends and pitched them the idea.

They obliged, and armed with billboard-sized prints of photographs he had captured, a collection of brushes and a bucket of wheatpaste, the group started posting his work all over the streets of Paris.

This guerrilla publishing approach earned Terdjman a surprising amount of praise, so he decided to reach out to some co-workers of his, including Benjamin Girette. Together, they founded Dysturb.

Paris, France. 19 Mars 2014. Pierre Terdjman #dysturb

A different approach to exposing images that would otherwise be invisible to the masses, Dysturb goes beyond Terdjman’s solo project and invites all photojournalists to print and paste their unseen images across the walls of Paris.

“The goal is to raise awareness about what’s actually going on in the world,” Terdjman tells TIME, commenting on the possible destruction caused by these wheatpasted images. “We’re not looking to make a name or to degrade a city’s public spaces. It’s really about telling the story of what’s happening in CAR, in Egypt, in Ukraine.”

Paris, France. 19 Mars 2014. Pierre Terdjman #dysturb

Terdjman doesn’t claim to have invented or discovered this style of media distribution. He admits that such guerrilla advertising has been around for ages, and has even been done by other photographers.

The purpose of Dysturb is to continue the movement, and encourage photographers to take less conventional routes of getting their images published… to take measures into their own hands. But, of course, there are downsides too.

Paris, France. 19 Mars 2014. Pierre Terdjman #dysturb

This approach doesn’t come cheap. Given that each print costs approximately $40 and the entire effort is supported by volunteered time, the Dysturb movement is leaching more money than it’s bringing in.

To help further their endeavors, the Dysturb team will soon expand their efforts to other cities across Europe, eventually skipping the pond and making their way to New York City and San Francisco, where they’re hoping more international recognition will allow them to crowd fund future operations. However, for now, funds come out of their pocket and effort comes out of their free time.


Their small operation still lacks the proper online resources, but as they told TIME, they’re working on a new website that, “will have a map of the different locations where we put up our work. On that map, you’ll find the name of the photographer, the caption, but also a link to the full edit of images. We want to create a link between the image, the photographer and the story.”

Not only will growth in operations help get more images seen and more resources raised to carry on the efforts, but as their global audience and connectivity continues to grow, Dysturb will more easily be able to react to current events.

Rather than days or weeks between events and the pasting of photos, they will be able to distribute and post the photos across the globe the day after events take place.


“We want people to wake up to the news,” says Girette. “We want to spark a debate.”

And that is exactly what they did, albeit for the most gut-wrenching of reasons, when their colleague Camille Lepage was killed in Central Africa Republic two weeks ago.

Upon hearing the tragic news, the Dysturb team solemnly met in a local bar and set out a plan to make sure that over the coming days, weeks and months, her images will be seen the world over.

(via TIME Lightbox)

Image credits: Photographs kindly provided by Dysturb and used with permission

  • Mikels Skele

    Oh, great. Now, “if it bleeds it leads” is all over the streets as well. Do we really need this? We are paranoid enough as it is.

  • Ridgecity

    We are living in dark times when the local media doesn’t want people to know what is happening. Sadly it has come to this, photojournalists paying their own money to publish the news since the papers don’t care, while the Kardashians are on the front page next to the big ads.

  • Guest

    Do they have permits to do that? Otherwise how’s it different from graffiti?

  • Rafael Lopez

    Yeah let’s just stay comfy in the west

  • Cao

    if you don’t like comfy, move?

  • ThatsWhatItIs

    I’m as tired of Kardashians as you are but let’s consider that lots of stuff doesn’t get published simply because it’s not good enough.

  • Kris Moralee

    Because it’s fly posting

  • Bill Binns

    Just more graffiti. This guy should be arrested and this activity shouldn’t be celebrated here.

  • Nick Welles

    PetaPixel isn’t actually celebrating it, they’re drawing attention to it. If you read the article they never say whether they think it’s right, wrong, good, or bad. It’s almost like they’re reporting it as news!

    It’s important to have photography that pushes how we deal and think about things, and while I’m not sure I 100% agree with this way of getting photos out there, no one can say that Dysturb isn’t trying something new, which lead me to ask myself…

    When was the last time I or any other photographers I know tried something new? If you can’t think of anything when you ask yourself that, that’s just as much a problem as the possibility that Dysturb, who are, may be going about it the wrong way. At least they’re trying.

  • Sean McCann

    Bill Binns is actually a pioneer in the medium of “snarky comment on PetaPixel”. He feels it is a much more valid art form than something as mundane as photography.

  • Matt

    Interesting, but how do people know the context of the images? That is where they were taken and the roles of those involved?
    As much as I hate facebook, social media is kind of a good place for this kind of effort…

  • james

    Comfy is built on the blood of others.

  • Bill Binns

    What exactly is new about this? It’s the same old graffiti vandalism we see the world over. These people are damaging property that does not belong to them. Shopkeepers, property owners and public employees are going to have to scrape this crap off. If I were to hammer a smiley face into the fender of your car, would you forgive me if I explained that I was trying to do something new in the field of sculpture?

    This guy claims that he wants to show his photos, “to inform people”. There is a really great tool for that, it’s called the internet. Anyone can publish and there’s an audience of billions. Better yet, nobody needs to pay or work to clean up this guy’s little vanity project.

  • Nick Welles

    Has anyone come out yet and said they thought it was vandalism or sought money from Dysturb to remove the photos as damage to their property? Kind of sounds like you’re making some assumptions based on your own opinions on their work. If you can prove people are pissed about Dysturb’s work being vandalism, you have a very fair point, but if not, you’re confusing your opinion with the issue.

    Also, they’re using physical locations because they believe it’s harder to ignore large images in public, which is part of what they think is the problem; it’s easy to ignore hard issues.

    And leave my cars fender alone. I’ve already told Banksy he gets first dibs.

  • Chang He

    Maybe you’re doing this for snark alone, I don’t mind one way or the other, but I honestly laughed out loud at “hammer a smiley face into the fender of your car and call it sculpture”.

  • Chang He

    Maybe there are better images in their oeuvre, but none of those are great. I think they aren’t getting published because the composition is poor, and they don’t tell a story without explanation. Great, you took a picture of a non-descript black person in native-ish garb in front of a bleak landscape. Don’t pretend that makes you a hard-hitting photojournalist, and don’t think it’s a compelling image because you say it is. Perhaps the captions help, but based on the examples here, I wouldn’t look twice as a passer-by in the street, much less as a photo editor.

  • Chang He

    Which is the category I think these pictures fall into.

  • Chang He

    Cynically too, a picture of Kim Kardashian with an iphone is going to sell a few iphones. A picture of some Boko Haram terrorist with an iphone just isn’t.

  • Cao

    There are plenty of ways people can get access to info and images, pertaining to their interests. Disregarding the internet which is a great resource, if you want naked women you get a playboy magazine, if you want to advance your knowledge in any other subject, for example photography, I’m sure you can find a specific magazine that can be of interest to you with plenty of artistic pictures and whatnot, as well as international news with info of what’s wrong in certain parts of the globe, and so on. Having to force, everybody who walks by, to look at your work, can’t honestly be considered right, regardless of the underlying reasoning that ‘people should know the truth’. For example I’m sure there are people out there, somewhere, being decapitated right know, placing pictures with headless people and dead babies in the middle of town square can’t be a good way to spread the news. If i’m partially proud of my work in adult photoshooting I don’t put vaginas all over the walls.

  • George Johnson

    Mixed feelings. On the one hand interesting and difficult images are seeing the light of day, on the other hand it’s fly-posting and as such is illegal. One the one hand without context the images may not be interpreted as they should, on the other hand it’s almost street-art you can make of it what you will. Interesting article all the same.

  • Yann R.

    Vandalism or not, i’d rather see this than all the (tasteless) advertising thrown in my face all day.

  • Alan Klughammer

    And how ironic is that? Posting unwanted comments on a website he doesn’t own where people have to at least skim past…

  • Nick Welles

    For sure. There’s a line about what’s ok to put out there if you’re going to put it in public and make people look at it, and again, I don’t think that Dysturb is 100% in the right here, but I do think they’re pushing boundaries, and that exploring those boundaries and trying new things is important.

    Guy at a machine gun like they show in the above images? Probably ok to put in the public eye. Mutulated child killed by a landmine? Yea, don’t put that out in the public.

  • Nick Welles

    Wicked good point. I think I saw some images that had a caption block or some text accompanying? I think it’s kind of a waste unless each photo has something like that with it.

  • Sarpent

    I’m not sure I’d be very happy with this if he plastered it on the wall of my house in the city. If you think about this for a moment, it a pretty dickish thing to do. I really hope it doesn’t catch on.

    How long until they realize, or others realize, that it’s cheaper to print smaller images and plaster them on cars?

  • Sarpent

    Unfortunately, it’s not *rather.* It’s really *in addition to.*

  • Yann R.

    Let me put it this way: I shield my eyes all day, but i’d open them a crack to see this ^^

  • Scott

    I bet some volunteers would be game for pasting them right over current billboards ;)