I’m continuously inspired by the work of French photographer Robert Doisneau. He is most famous for his image ‘Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville’ but I feel like this image is but a scratch on the surface of a huge body of work he produced in his lifetime. As a humanist photographer, Doisneau liked to capture candid moments in Paris (and in-fact far around the world!) that told a story or contributed to the story and character of the city. What I particularly admire about his portfolio of work, is his ability to use people and use of location to tell such a story. ‘Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville’ paints a picture of romantic Paris and contributes to its nickname “city of romance” that still holds true to this day.
All this considered and when you look at a lot of Doisneau’s work, it may come as a surprise to many that the majority of his work is in-fact staged. According to a paper put together by his Granddaughter Clementine Deroudille “Doisneau had always readily admitted that his models posed for him. Besides, he was tired of confronting his opponents who lamented over the lost magic of the iconic picture and reproached him for cheating with reality. But did they mean by ‘’reality’’?” (1. Deroudille, Clementine n.d. (Links to an external site.))
Doisneau would often see an image he wanted to take, sketch it and come back to the same spot at a later date with actors and direct the actors to re-enact the scene he held in his memory. Inspired by the emerging world of cinema in the early 20th century, Doisneau also frequently used his love for cinema as reason to use movie sets, where possible, to capture his images.