Leo Touchet is an American photographer, Born in Abbeville, Louisiana, in 1939. Throughout his 50-plus year career, photographer Leo Touchet’s work has captured the essence of people and cultures all across the world. In July 1965, inspired by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson
on view at MoMA
, Touchet purchased a Leica
M2 and began photographing the streets of New York. Soon after, his work drew the eye of a Life Magazine
photo editor. That chance encounter led him on assignment for UNICEF
to war-torn Vietnam, the first stop on a career that led Touchet through fifty countries across the world.
Touchet’s fascination with photography began after pouring through photos an uncle had taken while deployed during World War II. In college, Touchet studied architecture where he was introduced to the principles of composition, form, light, and perspective. This architectural training deeply informed his later photographic work.
Upon meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson
in 1972, the man whose work inspired Touchet’s career suggested he return home and photograph the people and culture. Touchet took the advice and turned his lens upon his birth state of Louisiana, a sample of which was beautifully collected in the monograph Rejoice When You Die - The New Orleans Jazz Funerals
In total, six monographs of Touchet’s work have been published. Additionally, his work has been featured in numerous publications including Time
, National Geographic
, and New York Times
Numerous museums and private collections hold Touchet’s work, including the New Orleans Museum of Art
, the Museum of Fine Arts
Houston, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
, the Everson Museum of Art
, Hofstra University Museum
, the Sir Elton John Photography Collection
, Chase Manhattan Collection
, and the United States National Park Service
. Touchet’s work has been exhibited internationally numerous times notably including solo exhibitions at the Acadiana Center
for the Arts, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
, the Miami Art Center
and the Mint Museum
Source: Jackson Fine Art
"My earliest memory of photography was at the age of six in my hometown of Abbeville, Louisiana when an uncle returned from World War II with boxes of photographs he had taken, and I have since wanted to travel. While in high school, I was selected to be the high school photographer. My equipment then was an old 4x5 Crown Graphic Camera with screw in flash bulbs.
After high school and a stint in the Army, I enrolled in Architecture school at the University of Southwest Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana Lafayette). There I was introduced to composition, form, light and perspective. My photography has since used all of these elements. Most of my photos are full-frame images, cropped in the camera.
I later worked in Cleveland and New York as a draftsman and later as an industrial designer. Eventually I became bored with working in an office on a drawing board. In July 1965, on a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), I was captivated by the photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson. The next day, I bought a used Leica M2 camera and began photographing on the streets of New York.
The photography archives at MOMA were open to the public and most of my photography education resulted from my many hours studying photos of Cartier-Bresson, Paul Strand, Eugene Smith, Edward Steichen, Gordon Parks and many other photographers in the collection. Later that year, I bought a ticket to Vietnam to become a photographer."
-- Leo Touchet