Born in 1912 in Paris, France, Robert Doisneau is considered as one of the most noted photographers. His poetic approach to street photography recorded French everyday life often playful and surreal images. Always charmed by his subjects, he enjoyed finding amusing juxtapositions or oddities of human nature.
Doisneau initially studied engraving and lithography at the Ecole Estienne in Paris to learn the crafts involved in the book trade, but the streets of the working class neighbourhood provided his most important schooling.
At 16, he took up photography but was so shy that he started photographing cobble stones before progressing to children then adults. After his graduation in 1929, he started photographing professionally.
He began photographing objects details in 1930 and sold his first photo story in 1932. At the beginning of 1934, he worked for Renault as an industrial and advertising photographer. He lost his position in 1939 and began earning through advertising and postcard photography. During the same year, he was hired by Rapho Photo agency, where he worked until the beginning of World War II.
As a member of the resistance and a photographer, he photographed the occupation and liberation of Paris. He also worked for the resistance forging documents. As a fresh start, he began working again for magazines and advertising agencies in 1945. This included fashion photography and reportage for French Vogue from 1948 to 1952. He joined Alliance photo for a short period and worked with Rapho again in 1946.
Influenced by the work of André Kertész, Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier – Bresson. In more than twenty books he presented a charming vision of human frailty and life as a series of quiet, incongruous moments.
His first book of Paris “La Banlieue de Paris” was followed by over twenty publications of his photographs often of Paris and Parisians.
In the 1950s, he became active in Group XV, an organisation of photographers devoted to improving both the artistry and technical aspects of photography. From then on the streets became his arena. He photographed a vast array of people and events in images marked by an exquisite sense of humour.
Doisneau won the Prix Kodak in 1947, then he was awarded the Prix Niepce in 1956.
He was appointed CHevalier de L’Ordre de Legion d’Honneur in 1954. He died in April 1st 1994.
Here are a few of my favourite images from Robert Doisneau