Blog Tales from the road

Peter Carrette: A stranger remembered

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10 Dec 2010

Just before I left Australia in November, I read of the passing of photographer Peter Carrette. I'd never heard of him but some of my friends knew of him and he'd been discussed affectionately at a dinner I attended in Sydney.

Carrette was a paparazzo - a field  not normally associated with such heartfelt respect or with philanthropy. He first achieved fame by photographing a critically ill Marianne Faithfull in the late 1960s. He went on to shoot celebrities as well as conflicts across the world. But Carrette had also been quietly involved in helping out some of Cambodia's most disadvantaged children. 

Yesterday in Siem Reap, I was surprised to be asked by a Khmer amputee whether I had come across him. I was doing an inspection of of a small hotel for this website at the time.

Cambodia,l'auberge des temples,Mr Mao,Siem Reap
Photo: Mark BowyerMr Mao with his copy of the Wentworth Courier from Australia
The man, Mr Mao, told me of his great affection for Australia. He had been "adopted" by an Australian woman while escaping the Khmer Rouge in a refugee camp on the Thai border in the late 1970s.

Then he told me that Carrette had been a regular visitor to Siem Reap and had been heavily involved with supporting hundreds of orphaned children. Finally he pulled out a recent copy of the Wentworth Courier with a tribute.

Apparently Carrette had used the small hotel, l’Auberge des Templles, as a base on his frequent visits to Siem Reap.

Carrette would be very satisfied to know that his contribution to the lives of these Khmer was so gratefully appreciated. It was nice to have this chance encounter with the memory of the man in Siem Reap.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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