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Saturday, 12 September 2009


I must admit I had never heard of him, but unfortunately that's true of a lot of great photographers. Being below thirty has some disadvantages...

The quote strikes a chord with me though. It's a practice I've adapted more and more over the last few years, and I now even seldom go to bed without my camera on the nightstand.

You never know, you might shoot the picture of your dreams.... ;-)

Very sad news indeed. I got the chance to see a retrospective of his work in Arles last July and I think some of his pictures belong to the world of collective memory of Photography.

I was moved by his kind views and the enthusiasm and wisdom he demonstrated until the end.


I have to admit that my photographic history is also lacking. :-/

Some terrific photos on that gallery page. Gamins de Belleville is excellent, and the nude portrait has something of old painting masters' atmosphere. The light...

He was one of the greats. Maybe even the best. Peter Fetterman gallery out in LA was showing a print of the nude at Photo LA last winter and I came within an inch of buying it, but it was a couple of grand too far. Now I wish I had. You know what? I'm getting tired of edgy, hard-hitting, skeptical photos. Just give me Ronis shots of human beings being human.

It's really the end of an era, with the death of Willy Ronis.
Alongside Cartier-Bresson, Boubat, Doisneau, he was the last to have recorded all those people of France, before and after the war.

In his pictures, whatever the subject, there was always a testimony to happiness, life, childrens...

Salut l'ami...

sad indeed, but wonderful that he had such a long and productive life, leaving behind a great body of work that captured simple moments throughout much of the 20th century.

Willy Ronis is interviewed for a documentary on photographers' struggle with individuals' right to their image.
La Rue Zone Interdite
You can see some of his work and a very touching moment when at an outdoor exhibit a woman thanks him for all the photographs he has taken. The film is in French.

Mike thanks for posting this. Not having much knowledge of great photographers I really appreciate a belated introduction to Masters of the art. I feel it is a really important feature of life at the TOP. Too bad some are when a photographer passes.

Who did I know of before frequenting these posts? Karsh, Adams, Steichen, HCB, Lange, Weston, Avedon, Freidlander. You've certainly expanded my horizons. I'm lucky to live in New Orleans so I have access to several great galleries and now I can go browsing with a specific photographer in mind and can often see the real thing (sometimes photographers too).

I find that looking at photographs a decade or more old to be more satisfying than contemporary work... beats me why this is so.

Thanks, bd

What I particularly love was his optimistic nature, the way he captured the everyday "little moments of happiness" (please forgive my English, I'm French). I think it's quite unique, because it's much harder to make a striking photo with 'little' things than it is for a war photographer witnessing unbearable events.

Looking at photos from his Provence period is a sure way to bring a smile on your face !

When I visited Paris in April 2006, I had the opportunity to see two great photo exhibitions: the first one taking place at the Hotel the Ville was titled "Willy Ronis a Paris". Also shown were some of the cameras used by Willy Ronis. Some 350,000 people attended that exhibition.

After a five minute walk, I saw the second photo exhibition at the Conciergerie titled "La Seine des photographes"; the river Seine as seen by many photographers including Ronis and HCB.

Willy Ronis was a photographer of social conflicts before WWII; witness the photograph of Rose Zeher, the woman standing on a table harranguing a crowd for decent working conditions.

After the war the mood had changed and Ronis immortalized the insouciance years: his picture two women selling french fries titled "Marchandes de frites".

My favorite Ronis photograph is that of Riton and Marinette, the two lovers photographed at the top of the Colonne de Juillet titled "Les amoureux de la Bastille"

It's a sad news. I had the chance to see him at the retrospective in Arles in the beginning of July. In a wheelchair with journalists all around him...

He was making a tour in the retrospective of Arles Festival.He passed his way and we exchanged a glance. What a Glance! This man saw so much things that I was really impressed...and I thought the journalists were asking him silly questions trying to make him speak...
You know, It's the biggest part of a TV show or emission...You need to see "action"! I don't know If they took attention to his eyes and peaceful attitude. They just focused on making him speak two words.

We saw a projection of Martin parr's work(I loves Parr's work!). A journalist (probably) asked him: "Do you know this man and his work?"W. Ronnis answered: "no". After all Why must he already know the work of new Magnum's photographers?...It makes me laugh.

I was near him and I thought hard to ask him...:
"Sir, would you like to take my old camera and take a shot of what's happening all around you?"
After all, the biggest part of his life, the most important was his point of view as human being, the choices HE made as a photographer!

Now I have the biggest regret of all time when you learn me that this great man is gone...
But I had a chance to meet him and to begin a reflexion on the old age.

French newspaper Le Monde has a short «portfolio» of Willy Ronis commenting three of his nude pictures:

Dans les nues de Willy Ronis

Warning: in French, and *not* work safe in North America.

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