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Portrait of an Indophile photographer- Gilles Cohen

Portrait of an Indophile photographer- Gilles Cohen

Gilles Cohen is a French photographer based in Paris. A multi-faceted photographer, his work on India was published in the online magazine Gueles d'Ange*. Here's Gilles Cohen in his own words. 


Gilles Cohen



IIP: Where did the idea of going to India come from ? Was this your first visit ? Have you had a person in your 'entourage' who inspired you to go to India with their travel stories ? Which all places did you travel to and for how long ?


Being a professional photographer in Paris for the past 18 years, I left for India on a whim, without any destination or fixed program to put some spice in to my existence. Once there, I discovered a world that was as fascinating as it was incomprehensible. I accorded myself a minimum of three weeks to experience India- a vast country indeed. So, I decided to discover North India. I let my taxi driver at PaharGanj in Delhi guide me. Then I left for Rishikesh, Orcha, Khajuraho, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar and then Varanasi. 


Trains, planes, taxis, public transports  were excellent places to meet local population as well as other travellers from other parts of the world. Meeting people is easy even though it needs some juggling and discretion to weed out ill-intentioned people, but overall, I found it nice to bond with people. 


IIP: Camera is your essential companion. In India, it must have been no different. How would you describe your overall experience ?

After having seen a few, the temples did not interest me any more. I realized soon that the real 'show' as well as the photos were in the streets...Indian people that I met having a rapport with camera without shyness or restraint- they pose (for the photos) willingly, without demanding to be paid in return, something that I refuse systematically.


IIP: How different was your Indian photographic experience from others ? Any particular difficulty in taking clichés ? Any memorable anecdote ?

After having traveled to West Africa for six months, the United States from one coast to the other, North Europe to South, I could affirm that India remains a country different from all even though the trip was difficult sometimes, in terms of logistics, frequent delays in public transports, hygiene problems, some over-enthusiastic 'tourista' that dampened my enthusiasm ! (Nonetheless) I would like to go back to discover Kashmir that seems like a region where people are peace-loving and happy at the same time. 

IIP: What next ? Do you plan to return to India sometime ? What are some of your other projects ?

The haul of Indian photos turned out to be very well to the extent that I foresee proposing a touring exhibition to welcoming and interested parties. The Senate seems to be pretty interested to exhibit these photos on the grill of the Luxembourg Gardens in 2011. Let's see. A lot remains to be done.


India with its people and its landscapes so picturesques, unarguably, they constitute a rich and accessible material for photographers. My forthcoming projects are portraits of various religions and their grandeur.


About Gilles Cohen

Gilles Cohen is a commercial photographer based in Paris. Born in 1968, he studied photography from 1990-91. He works as a polyvalent photographer with commercial work in studio, portraits, photo- documentary, still life etc. in collaboration with advertising agencies, publishing houses, press and with various enterprises. 

Website of Gilles Cohen


photos (c) Gilles Cohen

*Gueles d'Ange numero 14 containing Gilles' Indian photos can be downloaded from his website for free (3 Mb approx.)