Raymond Cauchetier was born in Paris on Jan. 10, 1920, to a piano teacher who raised the boy alone. He never knew his father, had no education beyond grammar school, and throughout his life kept the small fifth-floor walk-up where he was born.
It was near the Bois de Vincennes, where a 1931 Colonial Exposition opened when he was 11. “Every evening I could see a faithful, brilliantly illuminated replica of the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat through the kitchen window,” he recalled. He dreamed of someday seeing Angkor Wat.
When the Germans invaded Paris in 1940, he fled on a bicycle and joined the Resistance. In the French Air Force after the war, he was assigned to duty as a combat photographer in Vietnam. In 1951, he bought a Rolleiflex, a camera popular with war correspondents, and used it for most of his life. Gen. Charles de Gaulle awarded him the Legion of Honor for his battlefield work.
Mr. Cauchetier stayed on after the war ended in 1954 taking photographs of people and landscapes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. His first book of photographs, “Ciel de Guerre en Indochine” (“The Air War in Indochina”) sold 10,000 copies. In 1956, the Smithsonian Institution organized an exhibition of his work, “Faces of Vietnam,” which was shown at museums and universities across the United States.
His childhood dream of visiting Angkor Wat was realized in 1957, when he created what critics called a priceless collection of 3,000 photographs. Given to Premier Norodom Sihanouk, it was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.
Back in Paris and unable to find work as a photojournalist, he was hired to take pictures for photo-Romans, a popular kind of photographic novel. He met Mr. Godard through a publisher and was soon immersed in the New Wave. When he emerged, he and his Japanese wife, Kaoru, traveled widely as he photographed Romanesque sculptures in ecclesiastical settings. She survives him.
www.nytimes.com 2021-02-26 23:37:06