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Raymond Cauchetier
Raymond Cauchetier

Raymond Cauchetier

Country: France
Birth: 1920 | Death: 2021

Raymond Cauchetier was a French photographer, known for his work as the set photographer from 1959 to 1968 on many films of the French New Wave. His photographs are an important record of the New Wave directors at the beginning of their careers, and of their unconventional and groundbreaking production methods. A 2009 profile of Cauchetier in Aperture magazine declared that his photographs "are themselves central works of the New Wave."

Cauchetier was born in Paris on 10 January 1920. His mother worked as a piano teacher. She raised him as a single parent; he never met his father. Cauchetier dropped out after completing grammar school. He escaped from Paris by bicycle and joined the French Resistance after the Fall of France in 1940.

After World War II ended, Cauchetier enlisted in the French Air Force as the First Indochina War was unfolding. He began his career in photography there serving as a combat photographer in Vietnam. He consequently purchased his own Rolleiflex camera and utilized it for most of his career. Cauchetier was conferred the Legion of Honour by Charles de Gaulle, in recognition of his battlefield work.

Cauchetier remained in the region after his service in the Air Force concluded, taking pictures of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. He gifted a set of 3,000 pictures to Norodom Sihanouk, which were ultimately destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. Cauchetier met director Marcel Camus, who was in Cambodia to shoot the film Mort en fraude (Fugitive in Saigon), in 1957. He was subsequently recruited as the set photographer.

Upon Cauchetier's return to France, he failed to find work as a photojournalist. He was instead employed to take pictures for photo-romans, a kind of photographic graphic novel, by publisher Hubert Serra. Through Serra, Cauchetier became acquainted with Jean-Luc Godard, then working as a film critic and hoping to become a filmmaker himself. Godard hired Cauchetier as the set photographer for his debut film, À bout de souffle (1960), a breakthrough both for Godard and for French cinema.

Other films Cauchetier worked on include Léon Morin, prêtre, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, and Jules et Jim (1962) by François Truffaut. His photographs of the production in 1960 of Godard's film, Une femme est une femme, captured off-camera moments of Godard and lead actress Anna Karina. Godard and Karina married the following year.

Raymond Cauchetier stopped working as a set photographer in 1968 due to the job's low pay. He continued publishing photographs, but his images from the New Wave are considered by critics to be his best work.

Amendments to the copyright law of France in the mid-2000s granted photographers the rights to pictures they had captured as a paid employee. Consequently, many of Cauchetier's previously unseen works were able to be released. His collection titled Photos de Cinéma was published in 2007. Six years later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted an exhibition of his work in Los Angeles. He went on to publish the artist's book Raymond Cauchetier’s New Wave in 2015.

Raymond Cauchetier turned 100 in January 2020. In September of that year, an exhibition of his notable photos was held at the Galerie de l'Instant in Paris. He died five months later on 22 February 2021 in Paris. He was 101, and was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in France prior to his death.

Source: Wikipedia


Taking a photojournalist’s approach to the job, he instead shot Belmondo and Seberg in action, making carefully framed, richly textured photographs that captured moments of play and spontaneity. His pictures also showed Godard and cinematographer Raoul Coutard at work, offering future film historians a rich trove of behind-the-scenes images.

“In assembling his movie-centered still-photo dossiers, he created perhaps the greatest and most revealing photographic documents ever made of films in progress,” film author Richard Brody wrote in a 2015 New Yorker article. “Cauchetier is the auteur of set photographers.”

Mr. Cauchetier photographed Godard pushing Coutard in a wheelchair, enabling the cinematographer to shoot a low-budget tracking shot; another photo showed the director with a canvas-covered trolley cart equipped with a hole for the camera, which Godard used to shoot on the busy Champs-Élysées.

In one of his best-known images, he photographed Seberg kissing Belmondo on the cheek, while the actor gripped a cigarette and gazed into the distance. Although it was inspired by a sequence in “Breathless,” the image never appeared in the film.

“That day, to avoid the crowds, Godard shot from up high on the fifth-floor of a building,” Mr. Cauchetier told The Guardian in 2015. “You could just make out this minuscule couple parting with a chaste kiss in front of a newspaper stand. I went down afterwards and said I wanted to do a close-up of a kiss because it summed up their characters so well. They obliged. It lasted five seconds.”

Source: The Washington Post


 

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Faces of Christianity: A Photographic Journey (2000) and a touring exhibit, explored this religion as a political, a ritual and a spiritual phenomenon. From 2000 to 2002 he worked on Animism. In our world defined by science and technology, the work looked at why irrational rituals make a strong come-back. He abandoned this project on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. His book, In Whose Name? The Islamic World after 9/11 (2009), is a seven-year quest within 16 countries : opposed by governments who hunt them mercilessly, the jihadists lose many battles, but are they not winning the war to control the mind of the people, with the "creeping islamisation of all Muslim societies?" From 2008 to 2010 Abbas travelled the world of Buddhism, photographing with the same skeptical eye for his book Les Enfants du lotus, voyage chez les bouddhistes (2011). In 2013, he concluded a similar long-term project on Hinduism with the publication of Gods I've Seen: Travels Among Hindus (2016). Most recently, before his death, Abbas was working on documenting Judaism around the world. Before his death, Abbas was working on documenting Judaism around the world. He died in Paris on 25 April 2018, aged 74. About his photography Abbas wrote: "My photography is a reflection, which comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity – the suspended moment – intervenes during action, in the viewfinder. A reflection on the subject precedes it. A meditation on finality follows it, and it is here, during this exalting and fragile moment, that the real photographic writing develops, sequencing the images. For this reason a writer's spirit is necessary to this enterprise. Isn't photography "writing with light"? But with the difference that while the writer possesses his word, the photographer is himself possessed by his photo, by the limit of the real which he must transcend so as not to become its prisoner." Source: Wikipedia Abbas, as he referred to himself professionally, was known for dramatic black-and-white photographs delivered with a point of view, especially in his book Iran Diary: 1971– 2002 (2002), a collection of images and text presented as a sort of journal. When the events that resulted in the overthrow of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1979 began, Abbas supported change, but he soon became disillusioned with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who took over the government. “When the revolution started, it was democratic,” The Toronto Star quoted him as saying in 2013. “It was my country, my people and my revolution. Then, slowly, it was being hijacked.” A turning point, he said, was the execution of four generals after a secret trial. He photographed their corpses in a morgue. “Something that we learned,” he said, “is that the extremists always win. That was my main lesson from the revolution. The extremists were prepared to kill, imprison, torture — everything. So they won.” Abbas was born in 1944 in a part of Iran near the Pakistan border. When he was a boy his family relocated to Algeria; he said that growing up during that country’s war of independence sparked his interest in documenting political events. He taught himself to use a camera, and among his earliest jobs was working for the International Olympic Committee at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico. He would return to Mexico in the mid-1980s, taking pictures throughout the country over three years and producing the 1992 book Return to Mexico: Journeys Beyond the Mask (1992). In the 1970s he worked for the French agencies Sipa and Gamma. Early in that decade he was in Africa, covering the aftermath of the Biafran war in Nigeria and other events. He then found himself back in Iran. “My family is from Iran,” he told Vice in 2015, “but it isn’t as if I felt particularly Iranian back then. But I did feel that things had to change — you can’t just have some shah making all the important decisions for an entire country.” As the situation became more unstable and it became clear to him that the revolutionaries were no better than the regime they were replacing, he faced pressures from friends. “They urged me not to show the revolution’s negative side to the world,” he said. “The violence was supposed to come from the shah, not the protesters. I told them that it was my revolution as well, but I still needed to honor my duty as a journalist — or a historian, if you will.” He left the country in 1980 and did not return for 17 years. The revolution, though, had instilled in him an interest in what people throughout the world were doing in the name of God. “It was obvious after two years that the wave of Islamism was not going to stop at the borders of Iran,” he said in a video interview with The British Journal of Photography in 2009. “It was going much beyond the borders.” There are two ways to think about photography: one is writing with light, and the other is drawing with light. -- Attar Abbas He began by examining that phenomenon, resulting in the book Allah O Akbar: A Journey Through Militant Islam (1994), which recounted his travels through 29 Islamic countries. “When you’ve started with God you might as well stay with him,” he said, explaining why he went on to look at Christianity, paganism, Buddhism and more. It was an examination not of personal faith, he said, but of how faith can be deployed and twisted in other spheres. “What I’m interested in is the political, social, economic, even psychological aspects of religion,” he said, adding, “More and more, nations are defining their identities referring to religion.” If his work often put him in the middle of trouble spots, Abbas was not necessarily interested in images of blood and weaponry. “Most photographers, when they say they’re war photographers, they’re not really war photographers; they’re battle photographers,” he said in the video interview. “War does not limit itself to boom-boom, to the battle itself. Wars are very, very complex phenomenons, because they have a source, and it takes a while to come up, then it happens, and there are consequences. I’m more interested in the why and the afterwards of the wars.” He played down the part of his work that involved putting himself in harm’s way. “They say ‘courage’ — O.K., you have to be courageous,” he said. “But for me courage is a lack of imagination. You cannot imagine that it’s going to happen to you, therefore you go to the battle.”Source: New York Times
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