Photographer Profile ~ Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994) was a French photographer. In the 1930s he used a Leica on the streets of Paris; together with Henri Cartier-Bresson he was a pioneer of photojournalism. He is renowned for his 1950 image Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photo of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris. Robert Doisneau was appointed a Chevalier (Knight) of the National Order of the Légion d'honneur in 1984.

Robert Doisneau was known for his modest, playful, and ironic images of amusing juxtapositions, mingling social classes, and eccentrics in contemporary Paris streets and cafes. Influenced by the work of André Kertész, Eugène Atget, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, in over twenty books Doisneau presented a charming vision of human frailty and life as a series of quiet, incongruous moments.

Robert Doisneau is one of France's best known photographers, for his street photography and the many playful images in everyday French life. His photographs over the course of several decades provide people with a great record of French life. He has published over twenty books with realistic and charming pictures of personal moments in the lives of individuals.
[via wiki]

Self-portrait (1947) Robert Doisneau

Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville

The Story Behind The Kiss:
In 1950 he created his most recognizable work for Life - Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photo of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris, which became an internationally recognised symbol of young love in Paris. The identity of the couple remained a mystery until 1992.
Jean and Denise Lavergne erroneously believed themselves to be the couple in The Kiss, and when Robert and Annette met them for lunch in the 1980s he "did not want to shatter their dream" so he said nothing. This resulted in them taking him to court for "taking their picture without their knowledge", because under French law an individual owns the rights to their own likeness. The court action forced Doisneau to reveal that he posed the shot using Françoise Delbart and Jacques Carteaud, lovers whom he had just seen kissing but had not initially photographed because of his natural reserve, but he approached them and asked if they would repeat le baiser. He won the court case against the Lavergnes.
"I would never have dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate." Robert Doisneau. 1992
The couple in Le baiser were Françoise Delbart, 20, and Jacques Carteaud, 23, both aspiring actors. In 2005 Françoise stated that "He told us we were charming, and asked if we could kiss again for the camera. We didn't mind. We were used to kissing. We were doing it all the time then, it was delicious."


 "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there — even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity."  ~ Robert Doisneau

You’ve got to struggle against the pollution of intelligence in order to become an animal with very sharp instincts – a sort of intuitive medium – so that to photograph becomes a magical act, and slowly other more suggestive images begin to appear behind the visible image, for which the photographer cannot be held responsible." ~ Robert Doisneau

I like people for their weaknesses and faults. I get on well with ordinary people. We talk. We start with the weather, and little by little we get to the important things. When I photograph them it is not as if I were examining them with a magnifying class, like a cold and scientific observer. It’s very brotherly. And it’s better, isn’t it, to shed some light on those people who are never in the limelight." ~ Robert Doisneau

 The photographer must be absorbent–like a blotter, allow himself to be permeated by the poetic moment…. His technique should be like an animal function…he should act automatically. ~ Robert Doisneau

 The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street. ~ Robert Doisneau

If I knew how to take a good photograph, I’d do it every time. ~ Robert Doisneau


Alberto Giacometti in his studio in Paris

Neige à New York, 1960

"I don't photograph life as it is, but life as I would like it to be,"  ~ Robert Doisneau

 La dactylo du Vert Galant. Paris, 1947

Robert Doisneau, [Harper's Bazaar editor Carmel Snow working on fashion shoot with photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe and model Suzy Parker], 1953
Jacques Tati ~  French filmmaker, comedic actor, writer and director.

Robert Doisneau (left) and fellow photographer André Kertész, during a talk in Southern France, 1975.

Robert Doisneau

A fascinating look into the creative process of a master street photographer ~ Enjoy!

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