Photographer Jean-Philippe Piter’s Sensual Nudes Capture St. Barth in All of Its Beauty

Sep 18, 2015 9:35PM

Jean-Philippe Piter has lived on the paradisiacal Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy since 1997. He captures its lush topography and watery surrounds in color and black-and-white photographs that have aided in defining its character and appeal. It helps, perhaps, that many of his photographs feature stunning models who seem to spring directly from the island’s land- and seascapes.

Piter was bit by the photography bug at the age of 16. Not one to conform to the structure of a formal education, he left his hometown of Dakar, Senegal soon after his interest in this art was awakened and moved to France. There, he trained with some of the top photographers in the fashion and magazine industries. After establishing his own vision, as well as success in both the art and commercial sectors, he left France to settle on St. Barth. There he founded his own magazine, PURE, and continues to serve as its creative director and lead photographer. Its title reflects his approach to all of his work, and its pages feature photograph-rich spreads about the people and places of the island, as well as the culture that Piter has helped to shape there.

He is especially drawn to photographing nude women at one with the island’s natural landscapes. They have appeared on its beaches, in its sparkling ocean waters, amidst a spray of giant palm fronds, and nestled among its craggy rock outcroppings and against the rough bark of its palm trunks. Piter works to capture them in these scenes without a crew and often without a plan. As he has described: “I improvise. No plan. I am just trying to be at the right place at the right time and compose with the mood and skills of the model.” This method leads to photographs expressive of the spirited, sensual relationship between man, woman, and nature. “There is so much beauty in this world for anyone with eyes,” he has said—and reveals this to us in his photographs of St. Barth.

Karen Kedmey

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