This article shows many joyful people hanging out in the parks of my city, Como, and enjoying their free time in a friendly way. It’s also a tribute to a great social photographer: Willy Ronis. This is also an hymn to frieendhip, love, and all peacefully outdoor activities. Read more after the jump!
This article is a tribute to Willy Ronis (1910 – 2009), one of the five most important French great social photographers who participated in the 1951 MOMA exhibition together with Doisneau, Izis, Brassaï, and Cartier-Bresson. Like Izis Bidermanas, his family suffers for the racial laws and pogroms: his father (who was also a photographer) was a Jewish refugee from Odessa, and his mother (a piano teacher) from Lithuania. His early interest was music, and as a boy he hoped to become a composer. However, his familiarity with the equipment of his father took him to the world of photography.
As he wished for his 16th birthday, his father bought him a Kodak 6.5 × 11, that he used to take photos while walking in Paris, developing his rolls in his free time. In 1932, his father, seriously ill, asked him for some help in his studio, a boring job as a local artisan photographer that he never loved. The monotony of this work, however, was interspersed with some photos that he took on the streets of Paris or in the French Alps. His early photos of skiers roused the interest of the French Tourist Office as with the French Railways Society. In his studio he had the good fortune to meet Chim Seymour, who went here to print his photos. Shortly after, he had the opportunity to meet Robert Capa. After these meetings, he dedicated his work to social photography. He also took some important photos from the Citroën’s strike in 1939.
Some years after World War II, he became the first French photographer to work with Life magazine. He explored every aspect of Parisian life. His book, “Belleville Menilmontant”, became a classic for lovers of street photography. I met this author through a book, published in Italian language with the title “Lungo il fiume delle domeniche,” where he portrays the life of Parisians along the Marne and Seine rivers during the spring and summer season. Here you can find sunbathers, swimmers, divers, painters, people playing cards or having a picnic, fishermen, and lovers. This book was translated in French language with the title “Les Sorties du Dimanche.”
To write a tribute to this master, I took a series of photos in my city, Como, of people in a park with their dogs, taking free archery lessons of during a summer sport festival, playing chess or cards outdoors. All these people were tasting the joy of hanging out in their free time!
Here’s a father playing frisbee with his child:
And here are some girls having fun together with soap bubbles:
Of course, free time is always good for lovers:
Or playing guitar singing with a group of friends.
In the spring or summer season, the parks of my city are full of tourists having a picnic near the lake…
…and sometimes, they swim in the cold waters!
Other people chat, sunbathe, or diving from a platform, all in a beautiful environment; the little stars from the light reflections on the dark surface of the waters are simply fantastic!
Even the walls of the lakeside are appreciated by citizens and tourists. This is a great place to spend some time together in a simple way!
Salute to the Masters is a series dedicated to great photographers that I like. I posted other tributes for Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, Ernst Haas, Stephen Shore, Gabriele Basilico, Robert Adams, Thomas Struth, J.H. Lartigue, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Gianni Berengo Gardin, André Kertész, Brassaï, Rodchenko and Izis Bidermanas. I especially love street photography and urban architectural photography.