Jean Gaumy • Photographer Profile • Magnum Photos

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"Taking pictures is like fishing or writing. It's getting out of the unknown that which resists and refuses to come to light "

- Jean Gaumy

b. 1948


Based in Paris, France


Available for commissions
& assignments

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, with their daughter, Marie, being 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.

Jean Gaumy’s work and travels can be followed through his Facebook page.

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Selected works


Pleine Mer: Men at Sea

Jean Gaumy

Over 14 years, French photojournalist Jean Gaumy captured the fierce conditions of the fishermen who worked on open-deck trawlers capturing the harsh reality of life at sea

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