Jean-Louis Courtinat (France)

My photographic career really started in 1986 when I met Robert Doisneau, a brilliant photographer, to whom I was the assistant for 15 years within the Rapho agency. He is the reason why I became socially involved and developed a passion for people. I have always felt the need, as a person and as a citizen to be on the side of the weakest, but I understood that photography could serve a cause when I was working with Doisneau. I consider myself as a humanist, militant and committed photographer.
In 1991, I was awarded the Niepce Prize, more commonly known as the “Goncourt of Photography”. Thanks to this recognition, I received more photographic commissions and could publish my work. I was lucky enough to meet Robert Delpire, a renowned publisher, who trusted me and has published all my books since then. I worked actively on the issues associated with serious exclusion, poverty, disability, city suburbs, and old age. I also wrote a book on Paris in 1997.
I cooperate extensively with associations or foundations. I worked with film cameras and in black and white for quite a while. Today, with Fuji cameras, I use Lightroom to get the same high-quality black-and-white rendering as before. In 2014, I received a grant from the National Centre of Plastic Arts (centre National d’Arts plastiques) to work over a long period of time with people who had lived on the streets for a long time and had found new homes. The first part of this work was exhibited during the Arles Photography Festival (Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles) in 2014. I’m still passionately working on this assignment.
Why am I interested in the poor, the outsiders of all kinds? What are my motivations? How can I manage to live with these people for such a long time? To answer these questions, I would say without a doubt that the subjects of my assignments are the true challenges of my life, that I’m here on a mission and that I feel perfectly balanced and happy serving these causes.
As a conclusion, I would say that I adopted Eugene Smith’s famous quote: “Photography is a small voice […] I believe in it”.


I first used a FUJIFILM X-T1, and now I use a FUJIFILM X-T2 with XF14mmF2.8. This camera perfectly matches my photographic approach. Small, discreet, lightweight, responsive, it allows me to go unnoticed by people. I had been looking for such a camera for a long time. As for the XF27mm, it is extremely fast even at 2.8. This compact and lightweight lens is just awesome.


  • X-T2
  • X-T1
  • XF14mmF2.8 R
  • XF16mmF1.4 R WR
  • XF18mmF2 R