Icons in Focus: Photojournalism Pioneer and Street Photographer Robert Doisneau


If there’s any photograph that characterizes a photographer’s career, The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville would probably sum up renowned French photographer Robert Doisneau’s career in one iconic photograph. The French photographer helped capture the life and times of the most romantic city in the world, Paris.

Parisian life is probably characterized by the romance of lovers, the charisma of the city and the right culture that had helped promote France to many starry-eyed dreamers in the world. Robert Doisneau was one of the forerunners of street photography and photojournalism in a then burgeoning world of culture and society. Doisneau’s photographs open up the world of Parisians to the worldwide audience with humor and discretion.

“Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville)” by Robert Doisneau via Robert Doisneau Gallery

Doisneau believed that photographing everyday life was more unpredictable than any film that can ever be made. True enough, his photographs picture everyday in its basic and most exciting form. There are no pretensions in his prints and his photographic sense and stylistic approach is second to none during his time. His gritty pictures of the street life are equaled by his stint as a fashion photographer for Paris Vogue from 1949 to 1952. The glitz and glamour of the high end society set a stark comparison to the lives of common people he shot in the streets.

Photos by Robert Doisneau via Robert Doisneau Gallery and Bruce Silverstein Gallery

Born on April 12, 1912, Robert Doisneau took up photography as a hobby and developed his skills by doing freelance work and selling his prints for postcards. Doisneau also served as a soldier as well as a photographer in the army, making use of his skills in engraving and lithography. His real work as a photographer took flight after the war as his interest in street photography grew. Doisneau had worked with friend and fellow photographer Andre Kertesz and was recruited by Henri Cartier-Bresson to join Magnum but Doisneau declined.

Rober Doisneau kept on photographing the streets even though he had the option to shoot the glamorous lifestyle of celebrities in the 1950s. His signature style in street photography is still celebrated today, along with his contributions to the photography industry.

All information and photos used in this article were sourced from Film's Not Dead, Wikipedia, Photographer's Gallery, Bruce Silverstein Gallery and Robert Doisneau Gallery.

Related posts:
Parisian Streets in the 1940s to 1950s Photographed by Robert Doisneau
Flashbacks on Film: Picasso and the Loaves
Masters & Mirrors

written by cheeo on 2013-10-28 #lifestyle #street-photography #analogue-photography #photojournalism #robert-doisneau #icons-in-focus

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