Undoubtedly, Robert Doisneau stands as France’s most renowned and celebrated photographer. I stumbled across a large exhibit of his work in Caen this Summer titled “The crossing of a Century”. Although his photographs are well known and visible everywhere, a short visit is always a renewed pleasure. His body of work, spanning the streets of Paris, the empty banlieue, and various other locations, possesses an uncanny ability to elevate ordinary moments into captivating and profound scenes. Through his lens, Doisneau’s photos weave a narrative that transcends time, rendering the everyday life of his subjects intriguing and brimming with significance. When you gaze upon Doisneau’s images, you are transported into the heart of the scene. His photographs exude the essence of joy, exuberance, and sometimes even romance, forging an intimate connection between the viewer and the individuals portrayed. In the midst of his photos, you become a silent observer, sharing  the laughter, the tender moments, and the vivacity of life in his captured world. Doisneau’s profound influence on photography in general and on me in particular cannot be overstated. His pioneering approach to candidly photographing people in the streets, often without their awareness, gave rise to the genre we know as “street photography.” This approach democratized photography, allowing for the unfiltered and spontaneous documentation of urban life. In the present day, Doisneau’s photographs resonate with me with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and longing. They serve as time machines, transporting us back to the post-World War II France – a bygone era I haven’t known, but certainly a France that does not exist anymore. Yet, Doisneau’s work endures as a source of inspiration to me and many more, a reminder of the beauty in the ordinary, and a timeless testament to the human spirit.

La Pleine Lune du Bourget, 1946 ©Robert Doisneau
Place du Marcadial – Saint-Céré, 1958 ©Robert Doisneau
Premiers Pas, Paris, 1948 ©Robert Doisneau
Old Lille, 1951©Robert Doisneau