Robert Doisneau ! Images & Quotes !

Posted on January 10, 2014 by


Robert Doisneau este maestrul meu în arta observării detaliului. De aceea am vrut să-l celebrez printr-un articol puțin mai diferit, de tipul: o fotografie – un citat. Așadar, să-l privim și să-l ascultăm pe maestrul Doisneau at work/au travail! O mică excursie în cutia cu minuni a imaginilor sale ne arată cu adevărat că lumea este un spectacol din care omul nu prea înțelege că face parte.

The photographer must be absorbent–like a blotter, allow himself to be permeated by the poetic moment…. His technique should be like an animal function…he should act automatically.


Why should I have to photograph in a foreign place when people there do it very well for themselves?


Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile!


You’ve got to struggle against the pollution of intelligence in order to become an animal with very sharp instincts – a sort of intuitive medium – so that to photograph becomes a magical act, and slowly other more suggestive images begin to appear behind the visible image, for which the photographer cannot be held responsible.




I like people for their weaknesses and faults. I get on well with ordinary people. We talk. We start with the weather, and little by little we get to the important things. When I photograph them it is not as if I were examining them with a magnifying class, like a cold and scientific observer. It’s very brotherly. And it’s better, isn’t it, to shed some light on those people who are never in the limelight.


The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.


I don’t usually give out advice or recipes, but you must let the person looking at the photograph go some of the way to finishing it. You should offer them a seed that will grow and open up their minds


You must not trample on other people’s secret gardens. You must remember: to suggest is to create; to describe is to destroy.


If you take photos, don’t speak, don’t write, don’t analyze yourself, and don’t answer any questions.


The best photos, the ones that are remembered, are the ones that have first passed through the person’s mind before being restored by the camera


Photography is very subjective. Photography is not a document on which a report can be made. It is a subjective document. Photography is a false witness, a lie.


 A memory from my youth comes back to me. You go into the woods on a bike, with a girl. There is the smell of heather, you can hear the wind in the fir trees, you don’t dare tell her about your love, but you feel happy, as if you were floating above the ground. Then you look at the clouds beyond the trees and they are fleeting. And you know that within an hour you’ll have to go home, that tomorrow will be a working day. You wish you could stop that moment forever, but you can’t, it is bound to end. So you take a photo, as if to challenge time.


I prefer my hesitations, my false paths, my stammering, to a preconceived idea.


Careful Henri, you’ll be making conceptual art. (To Henri Cartier-Bresson who had forgotten to put film in his camera.)


The world I was trying to present was one where I would feel good, where people would be friendly, where I could find the tenderness I longed for. My photos were like a proof that such a world could exist.


I like to think that the universe I have liked will continue on a little bit longer and then will dissolve slowly, gently after I die. Fading in and out, like in the cinema, where we are accustomed to a fade-out at the end. I accept a fade-out. But what I cannot conceive of is a “click” at the end. In the case of those I have liked who have passed away, we continue to read their books, we continue to look at their drawings, their photos. It seems to me that in this way they continue to walk a bit of the way with us. And it is perhaps for this reason that I have photographed the old Paris that I liked so much when I was twenty or thirty years old.


There is that moment when we are truly visionary. There, everything works tremendously well. But all this is only a part of that great game that puts us into a trance, into a state of receptivity. This trance doesn’t last long, however, because life always calls you back to its commands. There are always contingencies. But somehow, despite it all, the effect does last. I think that it could be classed as a feeling. For me it is a kind of “religion of looking.”


The advantage we have, compared to painters and writers, is that we never lose contact with the rough side of life. It is a lesson in humility and it keeps us from some pitfalls. But above all it nourishes us.


I find that when I am witnessing an extremely tender and intimate sight—in order to excuse myself for having been witness and voyeur to such a tender, deeply moving moment—I take refuge. The refuge I take has been in humor. I seek humor so that the moment will not be such a solemn declaration. Humor is a way to hide yourself a little bit.


I think of Paris as a kind of crazy-paving footpath, the sort that lets you cross a lawn by stepping from one paving stone to the next without ever touching the grass.


I’m not that sure of myself. I start off with a story. I wait for the moment that fills me with wonder. Or I wait for some kind of miracle that that will always happen.


Nowadays people’s visual imagination is so much more sophisticated, so much more developed, particularly in young people, that now you can make an image which just slightly suggests something, they can make of it what they will.


…there is the continual constraint of living everyday life to deal with. A kind of fury grows as a result because we are not really free. Then there comes a sort of slow boiling up inside so that finally we explode. Then, abruptly, there is that exasperation that at one moment translates itself into a need to be filled with wonder, a need for a kind of happiness of the eye and a need to look with intensity and with courage.


You know, they always say that the photographer is “a hunter of images.” That is a flattering image, the idea of a hunter, it’s virile, acquired power. Actually though, it isn’t that. We are really fishermen with hooks and lines.


A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there — even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity.


“The charm of a city, now we come to it, is not unlike the charm of flowers. It partly depends on seeing time creep across it. Charm needs to be fleeting. Nothing could be less palatable than a museum-city propped up by prosthetic devices of concrete.

Paris is not in danger of becoming a museum-city, thanks to the restlessness and greed of promoters. Yet their frenzy to demolish everything is less objectionable than their clumsy determination to raise housing projects that cannot function without the constant presence of an armed police force…

All these banks, all these glass buildings, all these mirrored facades are the mark of a reflected image. You can no longer see what’s happening inside, you become afraid of the shadows. The city becomes abstract, reflecting only itself. People almost seem out of place in this landscape. Before the war, there were nooks and crannies everywhere.

Now people are trying to eliminate shadows, straighten streets. You can’t even put up a shed without the personal authorization of the minister of culture.

When I was growing up, my grandpa built a small house. Next door the youth club had some sheds, down the street the local painter stored his equipment under some stretched-out tarpaulin. Everybody added on. It was telescopic. A game. Life wasn’t so expensive — ordinary people would live and work in Paris. You’d see masons in blue overalls, painters in white ones, carpenters in corduroys. Nowadays, just look at Faubourg Sainte-Antoine — traditional craftsmen are being pushed out by advertising agencies and design galleries. Land is so expensive that only huge companies can build, and they have to build ‘huge’ in order to make it profitable. Cubes, squares, rectangles. Everything straight, everything even. Clutter has been outlawed. But a little disorder is a good thing. That’s where poetry lurks. We never needed promoters to provide us, in their generosity, with ‘leisure spaces.’ We invented our own. Today there’s no question of putting your own space together, the planning commission will shut it down. Spontaneity has been outlawed. People are afraid of life.”

Robert Doisneau, Paris


A great collection of Doisneau‘s photos, here.

Quotes taken from

Fragment from Doisneau‘s Paris, found on