The New Wave’s Photographer

Mar 25, 2010

The name Raymond Cauchetier may not ring a bell, but if you’re a fan of the French New Wave, and the films by such directors as Godard, Truffaut, and Varda that defined it, odds are you’ve seen some of his creations. In a new appreciation for the American Society of Cinematographers’ online magazine, renowned DP John Bailey (who shot the striking Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and provided assistant camera work on beauties like Two-Lane Blacktop and Days of Heaven) opens our eyes to the work of Cauchetier, the unofficial photographer of the French New Wave. Cauchetier started out as a photojournalist, interested mainly in the exotic landscapes of East Asia, then happened upon on-set photography when he was hired to document Godard’s Breathless shoot in Paris. The rest is history: as Bailey says, Cauchetier went on to capture “dozens of the most iconic movie photographs of that era, images that are embedded in the film consciousness of generations of his countrymen,” for Jules and Jim, Cleo from 5 to 7, A Woman Is a Woman, Shoot the Piano Player, and Stolen Kisses, among others. Bailey includes a terrific selection of Cauchetier’s Breathless photos, including behind-the-scenes shots of Godard directing his actors, and a candid and carefree snap of stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg bonding between takes.