Pierrot Men is a household name in Madagascar: he has been the most famous photographer on the island for over 40 years. Above all, the many black and white photographs from the lives of his compatriots remain in his memory and touch people all over the world.
Pierrot was born in 1954 as Chan Hong Men Pierrot in Midongy du Sud, a coastal town in the deep southeast of Madagascar. He is the son of a Chinese and a Franco-Madagascan. Just grown-up, Pierrot first earned his living with oil paintings. He used photographs and snapshots as a model that he himself had taken with old Leica cameras. In 1974 he opened a small photo studio for family portraits and passport photos in Fianarantsoa, on the edge of the southern highlands of Madagascar, and earned his living from then on with photography of weddings, Famadihanas and all kinds of other occasions. For the time being, however, painting remained his main pillar. One day, 17 years later, a friend of his had left the country and discovered his works – and promptly advised Pierrot to give up painting and devote himself entirely to photography.
Pierrot’s photographic career really began in 1985 with an exhibition in Antananarivo initiated by photographer Daniel Rakotoseheno (Dany Be). Since then Pierrot has exhibited photographs in Tana every year, and it is far from over. Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco and other major cities around the globe have already hosted his exhibitions. In 1994 Pierrot won the Mother Jones photography competition in the USA. As a prize, he received a Leica, which he still owns today. In the same year, he published his first book “People from Tana” (gens de Tana) with Bernard Descamps.
Today Pierrot Men owns the largest photo laboratory in Fianarantsoa. Visitors can buy his books, a huge selection of postcards, and of course poster prints of his many unique photos. And if you’re a bit lucky, you can meet Pierrot in the studio – if he’s not on one of his many trips. When the master himself is not at home, the photo studio is looked after by one of his five sons.