Jean-Philippe Piter - Le Coquin Des Caraïbes
Jean-Philippe Piter is the rascal among photographers. With him we experience a frivolous journey through the naked Caribbean. His photos do not use nudity primarily as a stylistic device, but as something natural and everyday. Life as it should be, easygoing, free (of clothing) and full of bold joy for life. Recently we were able to lure him away from paradisiacal beaches, palm trees and long legged models for a short moment and had a little chat.
Teddy Marks: Philippe, how did you start your day this morning?
Jean-Philippe Piter: Like every morning, I started the day with a coffee and a one hour walk in nature.
Teddy Marks: Being born in Senegal, and working in France for Michel Comte, Philippe Starck and many others as decoration and architecture photographer, how did you come to St. Barth?
Jean-Philippe Piter: My ex-wife introduced me to St. Barth 25 years ago. That’s funny how life is. At first I didn’t want to go. I was more interested to travel in Asia for the culture, waves ... She insisted, and as clichéd as it is, I fell in love immediately with the island. We moved there a year later.
Teddy Marks: Would you say that living on a Caribbean island has changed your life and your work?
Jean-Philippe Piter: Yes, it totally changed my life and work.
We moved into a small typical wooden house that we called 'the trailer’ for a joke. It was pure happiness to live simply, outside, close to the beach where we used to go night and day. Always barefoot, almost naked. Living in nature totally changed my life. I was unhappy and uninspired in Paris surrounded by grumpy people, traffic and concrete.
As for work, I developed a more personal style. I was then unable to find stylists, make-up artists, clothings or accessories for shooting. St. Barth was a very sexy place where many people used to go the beach naked. So I started to do nudes. My style, if there is one, is just about simplicity, uncomplicated, nature, happiness and sexiness. Just like St. Barth was at the time.
Jean-Philippe Piter Barbara - Snorkel (St Barth), 2008
“Living In Nature Totally Changed My Life.”
Jean-Philippe Piter Palm Tree (Bahamas) (Jessica & Natalia), 2020
Jean-Philippe Piter Elliott Shadow (St Barth), 2007
Teddy Marks: Your nude photos are sparkling with liveliness and naturalness. You can feel the fun and the ease with which many of your photos have been created. How difficult or easy is it to inspire your models for your kind of photography?
Jean-Philippe Piter: I like uncomplicated things. One camera and a couple of lenses but I always use my 35 mm. I work alone, fast, no assistant, no makeup or hair stylist in order to connect with the model. I tried to set up an easy, friendly, sexy, fun and trusting atmosphere. Shooting at the beach or in nature helps. I always tried to find great locations, where we would feel happy to be and excited to create.
Teddy Marks: What criteria do you use to select your models?
Jean-Philippe Piter: I rarely work with professional models or girls who have had plastic surgery. I like to work with girls who are willing to shoot for the experience, the challenge or for the fantasy. I think this is what makes the difference. It’s much easier when models enjoy being naked and are willing to share their natural beauty. I do not like to shoot with shy models or girls who take off their clothes for money or followers. I like people who do things with love and passion.
Teddy Marks: Some of your photographs are full of joie de vivre, or seem to be taken from life by chance. How much of the naturalness of your models do you let your models have? Do you sometimes have to push more or slow them down?
Jean-Philippe Piter: It’s team work. We both bring ideas, energy, creativity. I help with direction, position ... Yes, you need to push, not only the model but yourself to get the right photo. The photo that would be stronger than others. It rarely comes by chance.
“I Like People Who Do Things With Love And Passion.”
Jean-Philippe Piter Yara - Grand Fond (St Barth), 2013
Teddy Marks: Do you still shoot sometimes analogue?
Jean-Philippe Piter: I never shoot analogue. I never look at my photos while on the photoshoot. Never bring a computer to a shoot. My goal is to go fast. Models lose it very quickly. You have to go fast.
Teddy Marks: Where do you go when you want to be with yourself?
Jean-Philippe Piter: To my place in The Bahamas. I live on a wild small island 5 months a year, off grid, in a tiny shack that I built myself. Nobody around. It is just nature and nothing else. It’s almost ’survivor’.
Teddy Marks: Your life without photography and art would be ...
Jean-Philippe Piter: I would be broke and bored.
Teddy Marks: Your life without women would be ...
Jean-Philippe Piter: Without drama. LOL
Teddy Marks: Your photography is ...
Jean-Philippe Piter: About freedom, simplicity, nature, sexiness and fun.
Jean-Philippe Piter Eloise St Barth 2014
“My Goal Is To Go Fast. Models Lose It Very Quickly.
You Have To Go Fast.”
Jean-Philippe Piter Natacha Open (St Barth) 2017
Jean-Philippe Piter Alexis Shadow (St Barth) 2017
Teddy Marks: Any new project you are currently working on? If yes, when can we see the first results?
Jean-Philippe Piter: I discovered lately a very charming island in the French West Indies called Marie Galante. It’s authentic, charming, true, inspiring ... Everything that St. Barth has lost.
I feel very inspired there. I am currently shooting there with a couple of models. Hopefully the best images will be displayed at Space Gallery soon. If Covid 19 gives us a break, I should get a new exhibition planned later this year or in spring 2021.
Teddy Marks: Is there anything you want to achieve by the end of the year?
Jean-Philippe Piter: Finally cleaning up the current mess on my computer.
Teddy Marks: Thank you for your time and words!
Jean-Philippe Piter: Thank you for your interest in my work.
Jean-Philippe Piter Karina Swell (St Barth) 2014
Jean-Philippe Piter Kayley Shower (St Barth), 2018
Jean-Philippe Piter Jasmine Prayer (St Barth), 2018
Jean-Philippe Piter Wilmide Tree Hugger (Bahamas), 2018
Jean-Philippe Piter Smirk - Autoportrait, 2020
Jean-Philippe Piter is a French photographer, publisher and art director.
Born in Senegal on April 4th, 1968 he leaves Africa to France at 16 to study photography. He starts his career as a decoration and architecture photographer working for Philippe Starck and Christian Liaigre.
He moved to Saint-Barthélemy FWI in 1997 and published his magazine PURE ST-BARTH in 2005. PURE ST-BARTH is documenting the unique lifestyle and people of St-Barth and through the years became the visual reference of the island.
Jean-Philippe is well known also for his portraits of celebrities and art nudes. His work has been published in magazines around the world: Photo, GQ, Vanity Fair, Citizen K, W, Vogue UK, Interiors, Numéro, Times magazine...
He is currently focusing on Art Nudes, Interiors, Architecture and Private Sessions.
When he is not travelling for assignments he is sharing his time between Bahamas and St. Barthélemy in the French West Indies. He is the father of Lili Piter.
About MARLEY Magazine
MARLEY Magazine is a new platform for photographers and artists that conveys a particularly elegant impression. Presenting art, nude, hedonistic lifestyle and travel driven by passion. The magazine features talented and renowned photographers and models as well as creative artists and their work, for the pure pleasure of their readers.
The platform was founded by two photographers who are already known to their regular readers. You can find more information about Teddy Marks in the article about his debut work REBORN, which is a retrospective of his Fine Art Nudes/Fashion Nudes photographs of the last 3-4 years shows.
Creative in Paradise: Jean-Philippe Piter
Interviewer: Teddy Marks