“The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.”
—Robert Doisneau, French photographer,
Robert Doisneau was a French photographer born on April 14, 1912 in Gentilly, Val-de-Marne. He was a photojournalistic photographer; focusing most of his life’s work recording the eccentricities of daily life in the streets of Paris. He liked to say “I never noticed time passing, I was too taken up with the spectacle afforded by my contemporaries, that gratuitous, never-ending show for which no ticket is needed, and when the occasion arose, I offered them, in passing, the ephemeral solace of an image.” Throughout the years of his long career, Doisneau documented, “the ordinary gestures of ordinary people in ordinary situations.”
He first studied lithography, but then quickly turned to photography. He worked for Renault as an industrial and advertising photographer until 1939. Then during the war, he worked for the resistance forging documents. He then in 1948 began work for French Vogue for 3 years. But his passion for photojournalism made him return to the streets of Paris in 1951.
The discoveries and the joy he felt as he made different aspects of the city his subject matter are apparent in his photographs. “There are days when simply seeing feels like happiness itself… You feel so rich, the elation seems almost excessive and you want to share it.” And his most well known photograph, “Le Basier de L’Hotel De Ville,” showcases just that.
Doisneau’s black-and-white masterpieces have become widely recognized and beloved in the history of photography. They are also still highly loved and appreciated in the city he once loved, still sold as postcards and posters everywhere around Paris to this day.