Tag Archives: mood

Constellation Cafe Books : Icons by Robert Doisneau

Iconic, French and Classically Romantic, is how I would describe work by Robert Doisneau. One of the pioneers of street photography, he and Henri Cartier Bresson made what we see of classical photography with their Leica’s on the streets of Paris. I’m today going to take you through his book “ICONS” published by Taschen.

The book is quite 183 pages thick, light with a blue spine. Personally I don't like the design of the book, it has a character unlike the work which is inside, its a little too pop for me.
Really wish that this book was hardbound. The character of the book needs a darker cover.

Doisneau’s real strength lies in capturing mood. The era and the ambiance of the city, the society as a whole. Unlike photographers making a image, he was a observer in time, standing still with a clear gaze and winning smile. Inspired by artists of the time like Brassai, Krull, Kertesz, Vigneau and many more, he came to take photographs which not only speak about the time but core human emotions.

The cover is an iconic picture by Doisneau, a couple kissing in Paris, titled "Le Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville"
The book is divided into sections "Early Years", "War Time", A Thirst For Images" etc. I really like how these little details can totally change how you see at a photographers work. It becomes clear how the photographer grows, how images change and become bold, mature and layered as time passes. Also something which really hit me was his early years were marked "1912 - 1939". Inspirational to not give up and keep working to refine your craft.

Frankly, the book’s quality is not as great as I’d have wanted it to be. Its well printed but the images are too small. With so much detail and mood in the images, seeing a real big print would be heaven.

Most images are square, shot on 120mm with his Rollieflex. Wonder where did the 35mm pictures go..
In 1948 he was contracted by Vogue to work as a fashion photographer. The editors believed he would bring a fresh and more casual look the magazine but Doisneau didn’t enjoy photographing beautiful women in elegant surroundings; he preferred street photography. When he could escape from the studio, he photographed ever more in the streets of Paris.

Doisneau is a great photographer to study and the sections make it so much better to look through his work. Yes I wish that the prints would have been better with larger size or matt paper but still a great book to have.