Friday, 5 June 2015

Jean-Christian Cottu | The Holy Men

Photo © Jean-Christian Cottu-All Rights Reserved
"The Holy Men" is a collection of arranged and posed portraits made by photographer Jean-Christian Cottu in the ancient city of Varanasi. Although these photographs have yet to be uploaded to the photographer's website, he asked me to feature them on this blog on an individual basis, so I chose a few that I liked.

Photo © Jean-Christian Cottu-All Rights Reserved
On Cottu's website, there's a section featuring videos showing the photographer and his assistants during photo shoots, which is quite interesting as it shows the degree of preparation and gear he has to schlep during such shoots.

Photo © Jean-Christian Cottu-All Rights Reserved
As readers of this blog know, I am always highly skeptical of the "holiness" of the photogenic individuals who roam the ghats of Varanasi and elsewhere. I photographed some of them myself, and know full well they are about as holy as I am. That said, they are extremely photogenic, look authentic and play the part marvelously well, provided the monetary reward is in line with current market rates. Now, there may be exceptions to this, and I'd be happy to stand corrected it indeed there was. The fellow in the above photograph holding a stick with a skull is probably taking the role of an ascetic Shaiva sadhu known as Aghori.

Nonetheless, and authenticity cast aside, the portraits of these photogenic characters are lovely and atmospheric. I have previously featured Cottu's work in the Nagaland here.

Between Bordeaux, France, where he lives and the other side of the world, Jean-Christian COTTU defines himself as a wandering photographer. When travelling, he carries his equipment in a sealed trunk containing a portable photo studio and a light box connected to a generator.