Monday, 4 April 2011

Research: Robert Doisneau (1912-1994)

Robert Doisneau was born in 1912 in Gentilly, France and he studied lithography but soon realised that his real passion was photography.  He worked for Renault as an adverting photograper but was sacked for constantly being late so made money from postcards for tourists in Paris.  After the war he was approched by French Vogue and worked as a fashion photographer for a while but his real passion was photojornalism and the streets of Paris and this is where he returned in 1951.

Photojornalism or Street Photography as it is called today was Robert Doisneau style of photography, he wanted to capture the surreal in everyday life, that moment of something amusing, the shear act of human nature.

Whilst photographing the streets of Paris as a freelance photographer he sold photographs to Life and other international magazine.  He has done many exhibitions around the world in many galleries and together with Henri Cartier Bresson is considered the pioneer of Street Photography.

The Kiss is probably Doisneau most famous photograph taken in 1950 of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris.  The couples indentity remained unknown until 1992.  Jean and Denise Lavergne believed they were the couple in the photograph and Doisneau let then believe this as he did not want to shatter their dream.  The subsequently took him to court because under French Law an individual owns the right to their own likeness.  This then forced Doisneau to reveal he had posed the shot using Francoise Delbart and Jacques Carteaud.  He had seen the couple kissing and asked them to stage the shot as he would not have dared to just shoot them without them knowing.
I really like this photography the way the focus is on the couple and the background is blurred.  The background is very high key which makes and low key activity in the foreground stand out almost like the white backdrop in portrait photography.  I like the message this image represents 1950s romance in Paris.

This image of two children playing near the Eiffel Tower is really nice capturing childhood in 1950s Paris.  He has focused on the children and blurred the background.  The background has created a really nice frame through the bottom of the Eiffel Tower.  The image has a nice tonal range with equal amounts of low key and high key.  The lines of the tower and the building in the background give the image really nice texture and pattern.  The rule of thirds is represented throughout the image.

This image with the Eiffel Tower in the background is something I am hoping to acheive although I will not have children of the 1940s.  This was taken in 1944 and is called Les jardins du Champ de Mars.  Taken from a low angle I like the way the Eiffel Tower is slightly offset from the middle and the tree run in a line down the side representing lines and the rule of thirds.  I think the sun was high in the sky as it has only allowed a little shadow on the ground from the children I would like to see this shot at a different time of day to show more shadow on the ground.  This image has a nice tonal range with equal amounts of low and high key.  I love the way this image represents children running, laughing and having fun capturing the pure essence of Parisian Life in the 1940s

Musician in the rain, Maurice Baquet, Paris was taken in 1957.  I love the way the musician is trying to protect his cello from the rain whilst the artist in the background is still painting.  This kind of humour can make photography really interesting, capturing the surreal.  This image represents the rule of thirds in every perspective and the railing add lines with creates patten and texture together with the lamp post and contrasts created within the wet ground.

Le Meute 1969 is one of my favorite Doisneau image which is photojournalism at its best.  I really like the way the forefront of the image is in focus and the background is blurred almost like it is raining in the distance. There are cars everywhere creating a really nice pattern and texture to the image.  The image represents the rule of thirds and is taken from a high angle giving a good perspective of the road below.  The lady walking with the child in the pushchair seems to be walking so casually as the cars come towards her.  The detail in this image is typical Doisneau with so much going on guiding the eye around the picture demanding you look at every detail.  

The Sidelong Glance.  Another humourous image taken by Robert Doisneau.  After seeing this nude image in a shop window he set up his camera and knew it would only be a matter of time before he would capture something. In this shot a couple have approached the window and the women is talking about the picture in front of her but you can clearly see the man glancing at the nude image.

The following images have been taken of children in Paris and are all based around the compositon aspect of lines, children in lines, clothes in lines.  The image with the children on the chairs in a line is place between two lines of trees.  This image also shows the composition aspect of the Rule of Thirds and has a really nice tonal range. 


  1. Hi
    You are clearly enjoying looking at this style of work, and alongside that you are also seeing them in the right way. You are writing good analysis about these images as well. It will be ideal to change your theme as going to Paris will provide you with volumes of images to work with when you come back. Remember to work the camera manually at all times and try to not use flash even in low light.


  2. love your research...and as you will go to that dream city you can also look at some of Brassaï photographs, which as well was fan of Paris....