The Spring 2016 issue of Aperture features a cover image taken by Samuel Gratacap at a transit camp in Tunisia. Since 2007, the 32-year old French photographer has followed the lives of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean, documenting moments of departure—and the emotions of waiting—at sites including the Italian island of Lampedusa and a detention center in Marseille, France. At its peak of operation, the transit camp at Choucha, where his series Empire is set, received upwards of 200,000 migrants, many fleeing the crisis in neighboring Libya and others escaping conflicts in West Africa and Southeast Asia. One of the most pressing debates of current international consequence, the flow of political and economic refugees toward an elusive haven in Europe has been the subject of intense coverage in news media and photojournalism. Resisting the sensational, however, as Bronwyn Law-Viljoen writes in her introduction to Gratacap’s work in Aperture, “There is beauty in his images, but also an attempt to understand the bare-life fact of Choucha, and to avoid consigning the camp’s inhabitants to the realm of the poetic.” I spoke with Gratacap late last year, shortly after he returned from a reporting trip in West Africa for Le Monde. — Brendan Wattenberg