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I was born in 1947 in Brittany (Bretagne) the Western part of France, in Cancale, a small seaside harbor in the Mont Saint Michel’s bay, famous for its oysters since the 16th century. Our family hails from a long line of lighthouse keepers, harbor’s pilots, small fishermen, peasants, navy officers, carpenters and profiteers (corsaires). Family tradition would have us descendants from the famous 15th century Connetable Bertrand Du Guesclin (Bertrand Claquin), the head of the French King’s armies. A glorious story but Bertrand had no known children.

I graduated from Paris Medical School in 1975. By that time I had already been bitten by the bugs of adventure and of public health. I left France in 1972 and never worked again in my own country. For the past 30 years I have been practicing international public health and epidemiology in the USA, Africa, South and South-East Asia as well as in Central Asia. I have been privileged to be part of the smallpox and of the poliomyelitis eradication programs. It is my curiosity and deep interest in other people’s cultures that keep me going.

I started photography at the age of sixteen thanks to the generosity of my (slightly) younger brother who owned a Foca camera and let me use it. My next camera was an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic that I traded in 1971 for a Nikkormat and a 105mm. In 1972 before living for Bangladesh I bought a Nikon F. I have stayed with Nikon since although I use range finders as well.

I am a self-taught amateur photographer. Like the young poet I had to answer myself the questions R.M. Rilke was asking him: “Go into yourself. Find out the reasons that command you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of the night: must I write?” I believe that I am a photographer of people and, within this category, a photographer of “images à la sauvette”. In French “images à la sauvette” means “stolen pictures” or “snap shots” not “the decisive moment”. But critics of my photo exhibitions have often commented on the apparent complicity between the subjects and me so perhaps I “borrow” pictures more than I steal them. I am also fascinated by animal wildlife. Whether I am good or not at photography is another question and my own answers as well as the constructive comments of top photographers have nudged me into trying better and harder.

There is a French saying “le moi est haïssable” (the self/ego is despicable). I started showing my pictures late in life, 5 years ago, on the suggestion of Moumina Dorgabekova. I have held four exhibitions so far, all in Bangladesh where I lived for a long time:

“Borrowed faces: Portraits of Bangladeshi people”, October 2000
“The Easter Gallery of the Berlin Wall”, April 2001
“The changing faces of Shariakandi: 1972-2002”, April 2002
“Surviving Dreams: the struggling circuses of Bangladesh”, Chobi Mela II, November 2002. Published as a book in October 2003.

The experience of exhibitions has been exhilarating as it has initiated a dialogue with many people from all walks of life. This website is an attempt to prolong and to extend it for a greater flow of dialogue with whoever wants to provide a feedback and/or ask for more information. The most interesting e-mail will be shared in the section “In print”.

The rest of the website is organized into the following sections:

News: an opportunity to inform about updates in the site and about events of interest
Gallery: by themes
In Print: there are several sub-sections:
  • > The book on circus: how to buy it

• > How to order pictures from the gallery

• > Published Reviews of my work

• > Significant feedback from viewers

Workshops: I will start organizing photographic workshops from 2005. This section will tell you about the what, when and where
• Contact: how to communicate with me
• Links: my own highly subjective “Coups de Coeur”