Lucas von Zabiensky Mebrouk Dolega
19 aout 1978-17 janvier 2011

Lucas Dolega © Matthieu Rondel

© Matthieu Rondel

As a teenager, Lucas’ life is divided between Germany – his mother’s homeland, Moroco – his father’s – and France. He can write and speak several languages, does not dig authority nor school discipline – too strict to his taste – seeking a path in life. In 1998, while doing an arts degree, Lucas, who is thinking of turning to journalism, discovers photography. Using his mother’s old ‘Voigtlander’, he takes his first pictures – which triggers something ; from then on, he knows what he will be : a reporter, a photo-reporter.

On a training period in the photography Department at the Centre Jean Verdier in Paris, he practices, learns, the colour, black and white films; developing and printing in the lab’s darkness.
Lucas has a sense for observation, a sure taste, a keen eye in fact. No doubt, an heritage from his father who had taken many photographs in his own youth. He dreams himself as Don Mc Cullin, James Nachtwey, whom he admires. Far away countries, conflicts, telling about humankind, a camera flung across the shoulder, such is his
choice now.
‘Later, he will be the eye that watches the world. He will look at men to their deepest night.’ That sentence, taken from his favourite teenager’s book, ‘The Adventures of Boro, Photoreporter’, will become his motto.

Between dream and reality, it is a long, difficult journey.
In 1999, he becomes the assistant of a famous reporter, the first step in the world of the ‘professional’, studying then journalism at the CFPJ, following his joining the magazine ‘Le Nouvel Obs’ as a writer, to his great displeasure. Quickly though, he will submit subjects with texts and pictures to the editorial staff, ending with giving them photographs only.

In 2002, his dream becomes true, he leaves for the Near East, to take pictures of ‘his’ first Israel-Palestine conflict. In parrallel, he travels to the United States, in Europe and North Africa, focusing upon social stories, documenting the street children’s lives, illegal immigration, seropositivity. In 2005, Lucas travels in Columbia, covering the first electronic music festival in South America.

There, he finds what he was looking for : adventure – a little – but mostly, highlighting humankind with their emotions, trying to denounce ignorance, scorn, injustice. Wishing to give voices to those who lost theirs.

His hair in the wind, his brown eye behind the camera, Lucas, by his art, above all gives love. And he gets it in return.
In 2006, Lucas is 28 and searches the history of his Polish ancestry, discovering that, in the fourteenth century, his forefathers made themselves known as Dolega, which he adopts as his signature, having beeen seduced by that patronymic.

Lucas, his first name, Mebrouk von Zabiensky for a name, Dolega for signature.
That same year, he joins the EPA and EFE agencies, which means that his continuous struggle to get assignements, as had been going on for years, is over. At last, he is a photoreporter in his own right. He follows the news, that dazzling smile always on his lips. Pleasant, always in a joyful mood, he is greatly appreciated by his colleagues. To spend a few hours in his company, waiting for a Head of State to show, becomes a pleasure for all. Of course, he prefers the nights of confrontation to the Court of the Elysée ; to the Quai d’Orsay, the riots during the NATO summit meeting in Strasburg.

The passion for adventure of his start, his incessantly pushing limits away and his taste for danger quickly turned into fight. A perpetual fight. He wants to immortalize conflicts. He must tell, must bear witness. In 2008, he is in North Kivu, the devastated Congo province, submitted to civil war and cholera epidemic. In 2010, it’s in Bangkok that his passion brings him, to cover the rebellion of the Red Shirts. In him, as ever, the will of bearing witness, of denouncing.
All so naturally, in January 2011, he flies to Tunisia, where President Ben Ali is living his last hours of dictatorship. Lucas never had any intention of dying, yet, he intensely experienced each moment in his life, as though it were the last.

For Lucas Dolega, report photography was not a trade but his very life. On January 17th 2011 – riots in the streets of Tunis – Lucas succumbs to his passion, in what will be called a few days later, ‘the Jasmine Revolution’. He’s 32.