The Senegalese roving vendors in Cannes are an integral part of the Cannes scene. They sell umbrellas, phone cases, toys, gadgets, sunglasses and especially hats. They keep a close eye on the weather forecast and they’re always ready with the right merchandise. They silently and discreetly appear by your side whether you’re stuck under an awning during a wet film festival or on the beach in the middle of a summer’s day with no hat.
Although many of them have lived in or near Cannes for years, most don’t have papers and their sales activity is illegal. The police turn a blind eye. They have more important issues to deal with and they’re aware that vendors provide a useful service that no one else is prepared to provide.
These vendors have a strong work ethic that accounts for their success. The salesmen in Cannes are part of a network of Senegalese vendors who work in the southeast of France. It’s hard work and the days are long. They buy the goods from wholesalers in Paris and in Germany and they make a modest living from their sales.
Although I’m confident that their days selling on the streets and beaches of Cannes aren’t numbered, I feel that it’s my responsibility to preserve their anonymity as much as possible. For this reason, I’ve chosen to keep their presence small with in the frame, or to obscure their faces partially or completely.