Win Coates

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Win Coates
Win Coates cropped.jpg
Win Coates in India, c. 1985
Born (1960-03-28)March 28, 1960
Long Island, New York
Died February 7, 1990(1990-02-07)
Long Island, New York
Occupation photographer
Photo by Win Coates (self-portrait)

Winslow Shelby Coates III, better known as Win Coates, (March 28, 1960 – February 7, 1990) was an American documentary photographer and a follower of Meher Baba.


Born in Long Island, Win Coates was a photojournalist who worked in the United States, Nicaragua, and India. He devoted much of his short adult life to photographing scenes of India and events in relation with eastern spirituality, most notably Indian master Meher Baba after Meher Baba's death in 1969. Coates took several thousand photographs and recorded hundreds of audio tapes of Meher Baba's intimate mandali all over the world, and also documented Meher Baba's samadhi (tomb) and dhuni, along with surrounding countryside and local villagers. Many of the photographs pertaining to eastern spiritual subjects on Wikipedia were taken by Win Coates. Win also edited the 1987 motion picture documentary, Meher Baba, Avatar of the Age (uncredited).[1]

Photographic style[edit]

Win Coates had a Vérité style of photography. He used only a single-lens Leica camera that he would generally keep out of sight, often engaging a person in casual conversation to distract them, until he saw his moment. He would then lift the camera and snap a picture, in many cases not looking through the viewfinder. Often people did not know he was taking pictures. Among his surviving portfolio can be seen the results of this candor—subjects caught off guard or mostly unawares—even though they are looking toward the photographer. The difference is that they are egaged with the photographer as a person and not his camera, which would cause them to consider how they appear. In other cases he captures people and events completely off-guard. The results are unusual and often reveal how a person relates to a living person instead of how they might wish to be perceived in posterity. Thus he captured people as they actually appeared in meeting them, while other photographers might have captured the subject's preferred self-conscious position. The result is unusual—people sometimes looking "at" the camera, but not posing.

Photos by Win Coates[edit]