Born in August 1948 in Pontaillac (Charente-Maritime), France, Gaumy attended school in Toulouse and Aurillac. He received his higher education in Rouen where he worked as editor and freelance photographer in a local daily newspaper to pay for his studies. He worked briefly at the Viva agency and later joined the French Gamma in 1973 at the request of Raymond Depardon. During this same period, he married Michelle and their daughter Marie was born in 1975.
In 1975 he undertook two long works on subjects never before broached in France: the first "L’Hopital" was published in 1976; the second, "Les Incarcérés", on French prisons was made in 1976 and published in 1983 with extracts from his personal journal written in the first person.
In 1977 he joined Magnum after he was noticed at the photography festival, Rencontres d’Arles, in 1976 by Marc Riboud and Bruno Barbey.
In 1984 he made his first film "La Boucane", which was nominated for a Caesar in 1986 for best documentary.
Other often award-winning films followed, all broadcast by French and European television.
This same year, he started a cycle of winter voyages aboard so-called “classic” trawlers which continued until 1998 and led to the publication in 2001 of Pleine Mer.
His first trip to Iran was during the war with Iraq in 1986. He undertook ongoing trips there until 1997.
In 1987, he made the film "Jean-Jacques", spending two years chronicling the town of Octeville-sur-Mer, where he lived, through the eyes of Jean-Jacques who was mistakenly considered the “village idiot”.
In 1994 he made his third film "Marcel, prêtre" shot in Raulhac, Cantal and Auvergne over a period of several years.
He received the Prix Nadar in 2001.
Since 2005 he has undertaken location scouting and shoots for the film "Sous Marin" spending four months underwater aboard a nuclear attack submarine.
He was officially named Peintre de la Marine in 2008.
His numerous works on human confinement have been coupled with a more contemplative photographic approach in recent years. In 2008, after his film aboard a nuclear submarine, he started photographic reconnaissance work that has already taken him from the arctic seas to the contaminated lands of Chernobyl and Fukushima. Concurrently, for the same project, he started a series of mountain landscapes and, in 2010, he received the prix Nadar (for the second time) rewarding the book "D'après Nature" published with these pictures. The same year he was aboard the last and most modern submarine dedicated to nuclear deterrence.
In early 2012, he was in Fukushima and then again in the Arctic lands.
He has been living in Fécamp, Haute Normandie (Upper Normandy, France) since 1995.
2001 and 2010 Prix Nadar, France
1987 Prix du film document de Belfort (for Jean-Jacques) France
1986 Nomination aux Césars (for La Boucane) (catégorie court-métrage
1984 Grand Prix du Jury (for La Boucane), Belfort Film Festival, France
Prix du premier film au Festival du Film Ethnologique, Paris, France
2010 La tentation du Paysage, Galerie Magnum, Paris, France
2010 La tentazione del paesaggio, Filature de Caraglio, Piedmont, Italy
2009 Jean Gaumy, Royan-Le Havre, 1955 Installation photographique dans
l’appartement témoin d’Auguste Perret, Le Havre, France
2006 Pleine Mer/ Men at Sea, Le Quartz, Brest, France
2005 Pleine Mer/ Men at Sea, Manoir du Tourp, Cotentin, France
2004 Pleine Mer/ Men at Sea, Fondation Caixa, La Corogne, Spain; Casa das Artes,
Vigo, Spain; Centre Portuaire, Hambourg, Allemagne
2003 Men at Sea – Ben Rubi Gallery, New York, USA; South Street Seaport
Museum, New York, USA; centre portugais de la Photographie, Porto, Portugal
2002/06 Pleine Mer / Mar Alto - Caixa Galicia, La Coruña, Spain; Caixa Galicia, Vigo,
Spain; Melville Gallery, South Street Seaport Museum, New York, USA;
Centro Portugues de Fotografia, Porto, Portugal; Musée de la Marine,
Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France; Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam, the
Netherlands; Chroniques Nomades, Honfleur, France;
Centre Atlantique de la Photographie, Brest, France
1994 Portraits en Altitude, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
1993/94 Le Pont de Normandie, Galeries FNAC, Rouen, Caen, Paris, France
1990 Men’s Lives: The Surfmen and Baymen of the Southfork, Library of Congress,
Washington D.C., USA
1983 Les Incarcérés, Galerie Magnum, Paris, France
1980 Fondation Nationale des Arts Plastiques et Graphiques de Paris, France
1973 Travailleurs de la Mer, Maison de la Culture du Havre, France
1972 Ici ou ailleurs, Théâtre Maxime Gorki, Grand Quevilly, Normandie, France
National Maritime Museum of Paris, France
Centre Beaubourg, Paris, France
Public Collection, the National Library, France
National Photography Foundation, Lyon, France
2010 Jean Gaumy, Actes Sud. Coll PhotoPoche. Text by Alain Bergala
2010 D'après Nature, Xavier Barral, France. English, Italian and French texts.
2001/02 Pleine Mer, La Martinière, France; (Men at Sea), Harry N. Abrams, USA;
(Mare Aperto), Contrasto, Italy; (Auf hoher See), Knesebeck, Germany
2001 Le Livre des Tempêtes à bord de l’Abeille Flandre, Seuil, France
1995 Le Pont de Normandie, Le Cherche-Midi, France
1983 Les Incarcérés, L’Etoile/Cahiers du Cinéma, France
1976 L’Hôpital, Contrejour, France
2006 Sous-Marin (video, color, 5x25')
1994 Marcel, Prêtre (16mm, color, 42')
1987 Jean-Jacques (16mm, color, 52')
1984 La Boucane (16mm, color, 35')