Discover more about this master in our Henri Cartier-Bresson editorial.
Jacques Henri Lartigue heavily influenced modern photography. For most of his life, Lartigue considered himself a painter; it was not until he was 69 years old that his photography was discovered, garnering almost immediate international acclaim. For Lartigue, photography had been a hobby throughout his life and some of his earliest photographs have now gone on to become some of his most famous works. Lartigue had an uncanny ability to capture the essence of a scene, seemingly understanding the time and the people with whom he worked. Lartigue photographed car races and sports events, family and friends, capturing people and objects in motion.
It’s no surprise that Jacques Lartigue was handed a camera as a child and began his career at the tender age of seven. As children often do, he took a great many snapshots of his family and friends. He also focused on typical boyish subjects like cars, airplanes, and sports events. Although he sold a number of these photographs, Lartigue was primarily employed as a painter for many years. When Lartigue was 69, a member of the Rapho photography agency saw some of the photos he’d taken as a child and arranged for them to be shown to the public. Lartigue was subsequently hired to work on various photography projects. He eventually became much better known for his pictures than his paintings, though he continued to work on those as well. Lartigue died in 1986 at the age of 92.We might have missed some, however you can help us to update this section and make it complete. Drop us a line, send us a tweet, write a comment and will make it happen.
Although he started off as a painter, Cartier-Bresson began to develop a greater interest in photography once it turned out that his new acquaintance Harry Crosby was also a fan of the art. However, it wasn’t until his 1937 photos of the royal coronation were published that his career got underway. During the 1940s, Cartier-Bresson was one of the founding members of Magnum Photos. While his job was primarily to cover events in Asia, he eventually made his way around the world. His photography career ended in the 1970s and the man himself died about thirty years later.
The modern camera was invented in France so it’s not surprising that many acclaimed photographers hail from that particular country. Here are the top ten French photographers that you should definitely know.
His works are also focused on world religions, particularly militant sects of the Islamic faith. Attar has already published six photography books and is currently working on yet another project.
Attar was born in Iran in 1944 but he eventually moved to Paris where he embarked on a career as a photojournalist. Between 1968 and 1970, his first series of photographs showed the Iranian Revolution that was taking place in his homeland. Most of his snapshots since then have been taken in regions that are embroiled in conflict.
Feininger was born in Paris but his family later moved to Germany. He worked and lived in several countries before settling in the United States. Feininger’s work has defined urban photography throughout the 20th century, and continues to make a considerable impact. Focusing on depicting the interplay between humanity and nature, his photographs feature colossal man-made structures such as skyscrapers, highways, promenades, bridges, and other works of architectural engineering. Feininger has largely avoided photographing people, preferring instead to capture individuals in the background as indistinguishable objects against the magnitude of the structures in the forefront.
Willy Ronis is perhaps most famous for his work depicting peaceful life in Provence through portraits of his wife, Marie-Anne Lansiaux. Ronis, however, was himself most passionate about documenting the life of ordinary Parisians – especially those living in the city’s poorest quarters. Ronis is considered a humanist photographer, his works capturing spontaneous moments in life. His photographs reveal truths in a most arresting manner, making him one of the greatest Post-War photographers in the country.
Bourdin is a French native that is well-known for his racy photographic images. He also worked for number of popular fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar during his lifetime. Major museums and companies have often vied to have him shoot their latest projects. Like so many of his contemporaries, Bourdin joined the military at the age of 18. It was some years later that his employers put him to work as an aerial photographer. Due to his persistence, he gained the support of American photographer Man Ray. During the 1950s, Boudin started working for Vogue where he continued to work for almost four decades. He died in 1991 at the age of 62.
The list you’re viewing contains people like Louis Daguerre and Antoine François Jean Claudet.
Going professionally by his first name only, Abbas is an acclaimed French-Iranian photographer specializing in major political and social coverage. For the last 45 years, Abbas has covered revolutions and conflicts in regions spanning from Northern Ireland to South East Asia, South America, and Africa. Abbas has also published numerous books, collecting his photos in a diary format and critically examining contemporary issues in each publication. His works mainly focus on Iranian society, world religions, and militant Islam. Abbas also has a powerful photographic signature, and his photos seem to display a hidden narrative – so much so that he has been described as a writer working with light as his medium.
Eugène Atget is considered a pioneer of documentary photography, capturing vital, stunning moments on the Parisian streets. Using an archaic wooden bellows camera, Atget photographed old buildings and ordinary people such as rag collectors and tradesmen. His work went largely unnoticed during his lifetime, but towards the end of his life, members of the Surrealist movement in Paris tried to promote his work to a larger audience. Many years after Atget’s death, his work became influential for French street photographers and photographic journalists. Atget’s work possesses a powerful sense of nostalgia, and his photographs retain a quality against which modern photography is still measured.
List of notable or famous photographers from France, with bios and photos, including the top photographers born in France and even some popular photographers who immigrated to France. If you’re trying to find out the names of famous French photographers then this list is the perfect resource for you. These photographers are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known photographer from France is included when available.
Another photographer who initially had other plans, Willy Ronis intended to study music as a young man. Life intervened as his father’s cancer forced young Ronis to take over the family portrait studio. He sold the business after his dad died but still continued to work as a photographer. Ronis’ work ranged from journalistic endeavors to both nudes and fashion spreads. He started teaching in the 1950s but continued to work on other artistic projects. Ronis died in 2009 at the age of 99.
Although he was born as Gyula Halász in what is now Romania, the artist that was later known as Brassaï eventually became a French citizen. He was employed as a journalist for a brief time before he moved to Paris in 1924. It was there that Brassaï, who had trained as an artist in his youth, started experimenting with photography techniques as he wandered the streets at night. This resulted in his first book Paris at Night, which was published in 1933. He went on to have a very successful career in the decades that followed. He eventually died in 1984 at the age of 84.
Brassaï , Crosswalk on the Rue de Rivoli (also called Le Passage clouté), 1937 | Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago
Use this list of renowned French photographers to discover some new photographers that you aren’t familiar with. Don’t forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page.
Gaspard-Félix Tournachon had planned to become a doctor but he’s known today for his work as a portrait photographer under the alias Felix Nadar. He gave up medicine for economic reasons to work as a caricaturist and then a photographer. His first pictures were taken in the 1850s. Although he mostly took pictures of people, Nadar enjoyed experimental photography as well. He took his camera to new depths in the catacombs of Paris as well as to new heights in hot air balloons. (Nadar eventually became an enthusiastic balloonist.) His studio even housed the first Impressionist exhibit ever seen. During the later portion of his life, he continued to photograph people – some of them quiet intimately and others not so much. He died in 1910.
Gyula Halász was born in Hungary and rose to international fame after he moved to Paris in the interwar period, changing his name to Brassaï. Living in Paris, Brassaï worked as a painter, sculptor, and journalist, and was initially somewhat skeptical of photography as an art form. But when his friend Andre Kertesz introduced him to the medium, Brassaï was immediately hooked. Taking his camera around Paris at night, Brassaï captured the beauty of the sleeping city, eventually publishing his photos in book collections titled Paris de Nuit and Voluptés de Paris.
Despite his several failed attempts at becoming an actor, Atget is best known for his work as documentary photographer. His career got started during the 1890s when he began taking photographs to serve as inspiration for other artists. He was later commissioned to take snapshots of old buildings in Paris that were in danger of disappearing as the city became more modernized. Atget eventually moved on to photographing other subjects including local parks and prostitutes. Unfortunately, Atget died in 1927 at the age of 70 before his work ever received much public acclaim.
As a young man he trained to be an engraver but Doisneau ended up being a successful street photographer instead. Although his first paying photography job was for Excelsior in 1931, Doisneau is best known for a photo entitled “Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville” or “The Kiss” that was published in Life Magazine in 1950. He continued to work as a photographer and received many accolades throughout his life before his death in 1994 at the age of 81.
Adagio class in the rotunda at the Opéra de Paris, 1950 | © Atelier Robert Doisneau, from Robert Doisneau: The Vogue Years (Flammarion 2017)
June 20, 2017 by Rebecca Purcell in Fine Art, Fashion, Landscapes
What advice would you give young photographers?Get a good pair of walking shoes and…fall in love — Abbas Attar
Arguably the best-known French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson is often credited as the father of photojournalism. With his impeccable talent for capturing vital moments in time, Bresson’s documentation of life through the lens of his trusty 35mm Leica led to the emergence of a photographic style entitled the ‘Decisive Moment,’ named after Bressons’s first book. Coming from an art background, Bresson eventually turned towards photography and travelled widely across the world documenting the major independence movements in India, Indonesia and China during the Cultural Revolution. Bresson was also the first western photographer allowed to photograph ‘freely’ in the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin. With his ability to capture images that resonated with a wide audience and his extensive coverage of many key events in the 20th century, Henri Cartier-Bresson has often been titled the ‘eye of the century’.
French photographers have played an incredibly important role in the evolution of the medium; both as an art-form and as a way of documenting history and society. From classic, moody monochrome shots to dynamic contemporary works, photographic innovation and experimentation is a staple of the French perspective.
We examine ten of the best French photographers – from 19th century names to modern contributors.
Although he was an engineer after the Second World War, a vacation he took inspired Riboud to become a professional photographer. In 1953, he joined Magnum Photos alongside some of the most influential photojournalists of the day. His new job sent Riboud all over the world. He made trips to China, North Vietnam, Japan, and America as well as Africa and other parts of Asia, before he stopped working for the company in 1979. Riboud’s works have been featured in prestigious magazines such as National Geographic and Life. He also won several awards for his work. He recently died in 2016 at the age of 93.
This historic photographers from France list can help answer the questions “Who are some French photographers of note?” and “Who are the most famous photographers from France?” These prominent photographers of France may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they’re all respected French photographers.
Our Robert Doisneau editorial goes in more detail about the masterpieces of the artist.
As a master of street photography, Doisneau’s most famous and recognizable work is the Le Baiser de l’hôtel de Ville – a photo depicting a young couple kissing on a busy Parisian Street. Appearing in Life magazine, this landmark photograph propelled Doisneau to international fame, exemplifying his spontaneous style. Doisneau‘s photography is a means of depicting reality, fostering an intimate look at everyday moments in the lives of others. With a playful air, he created dynamic compositions of eccentric people.
Elliott Erwitt was born in Paris but later moved to the United States where he studied photography and film. Erwitt eventually returned to Europe whilst working for the U.S. Army, and began his photographic career soon after. He quickly became famous as a documentary photographer and garnered critical acclaim for his unique method of capturing everyday life. Having mastered the ‘Decisive Moment’ technique, Erwitt’s works gained considerable attention internationally, and he became a successful advertising photographer. Erwitt takes a light-hearted approach to photography, evident in his fascination with dogs and the publication of many photo-books devoted to canines.
Félix Nadar was one of the first significant French photographers, and one of the most important photographers in history. Nadar was a dynamic artist, garnering celebrity status during his lifetime. As a passionate aviation enthusiast, he took numerous flights in hot air balloons to capture images of the Parisian skyline – simultaneously laying the foundations for aerial photography. Nadar has also been credited with pioneering the use of artificial lighting in photography, seen specifically when he undertook a project to photograph the Catacombs of Paris. Nadar’s most famous works however, were his collection of portraits titled Panthéon, which depicted a panorama of almost 300 French celebrities of the period.