France is where photography was born…why not take example from the greatest French photographers to improve your photos?
During a private photography class or a photo lesson in a photo school, a student will inevitably be confronted with some of the most famous photographers if they want to discover different photo techniques. A lot of these will be French!
Studying their photo style, but also their biography is essential to becoming a professional photographer and developing a sense of culture.
Because we’re passionate about the subject, here is a small non-exhaustive list of the best French photographers to inspire yourself from.
Born in 1908 in Chanteloup en Brie, he died in 2004 in Montjustin. Henri-Cartier Bresson is considered one of the greatest French photojournalists in the world!
Why not improve your style by scoping out the top photographers in France and elsewhere!
A photographer, but also a designer, Bresson used a Leica camera that became legendary thanks to his extraordinary photography work.
He was very sensitive to world events. Bresson tried to convey the fragility of the human condition through his poignant shots.
It is thanks to this exceptional artist that shooting in a square format became popular, as well as black and white photography and shades of gray.
Behind Gare Saint-Lazare, an immortal image from 1932, remains one of his most memorable photographs, often the influence of other works of art!
Born in 1912 in Gentilly in the Paris suburbs, Robert Doisneau was initially an engraver. It is however thanks to his work as a photographer that he made himself known!
It was not until the end of the Second World War that the general public discovered Robert Doisneau’s photographs in prestigious magazines such as Life or Paris Match. Doisneau took black and white photographs of furtive moments, especially in the streets of Paris (you could recreate some of them in New York, by first taking a NYC photo course).
Artisans, lovers, children, jugglers…Doisneau liked to capture the image of totally random inhabitants, which were, according to him, the representatives of the post-war period and its state of mind.
He defined himself as a “patient passerby”, always waiting for the right moment to take his shot.
While studying photography in school or taking a photo workshop you will for sure study his most famous works, like The Kiss of L’Hôtel de ville! He is certainly one of the best photographers in the world.
Born in 1899 in Brasso, Transylvania, Brassaï fell in love with France during his studies and decided to take on the French nationality!
Learning the French language thanks to famous writers such as Marcel Proust, the future photographer immersed himself in photography during his work as a journalist. Also passionate about Parisian nights, Brassaï tried to immortalize the daily French life with a touch of humor and romance.
A friend of historical art figures such as Kiki de Montparnasse, Pablo Picasso, and Dali, Brassaï was immersed in the bohemian culture of the capital’s districts.
The artist had a very particular way of calculating the exposure time in his photos: he smoked a cigarette for a normal pose, and two or three for a long exposure time.
Immerse yourself in Brassaï’s work to come face to face with the nostalgia of 1930s Paris!
Yann-Arthus Bertrand is probably the most famous photographer still alive in France!
Learn to photograph the most beautiful places in the world like Yann Arthus Bertrand did.
Born in 1946 in Paris, Yann Arthur Bertrand discovered photography through animal photography, studying for three years with a family of lions in Kenya. It was when he returned to France that he decided to make photography his full-time job and started working as a photographer and reporter.
Taking snapshots for famous photography magazines, such as National Geographic and Geo, he decided to create Altitude, his own photography agency dedicated to aerial photography.
His greatest success to date is his photography book named The View of Heaven from Earth, the best-selling photo book in the world!
Today, Yann Arthus Bertrand is the president of the Good Planet Foundation, whose objective is to promote ecology.
Inventor, photographer, and physicist, Nicephore Niepce is the French photographer who has had the most impact on the development of photography.
Born in 1765 in Chalon-sur-Saone, Nièpce, at the beginning of the 19th century, began to research how to fix the images of a dark room on a substance. Stubborn, Nièpce first invented the principle of photoengravings, before finally developing the concept of photography as we know it today.
Prospective photographers can draw inspiration from Nièpce’s work by visiting the museum that bears his name!
His heyday came in 1827 thanks to a photograph entitled “Point of view in Grasse,” the oldest preserved photograph of the world.
Nièpce died prematurely as a result of illness before having really been able to succeed in his projects. Nièpce is a reference for beginners who want to learn more about the genesis of photography!
Born in 1952 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Bettina Rheims began her career in 1978 with portraits of strippers and French acrobats, which were then exhibited at the prestigious Pompidou Center in Paris in 1981!
First a model, then a journalist, and finally a photographer, Rheims worked on particularly diverse photographic projects, including film posters, fashion photos, record covers, and advertising photos.
Winner of the Photography Grand Prix of the City of Paris in 1994, Rheims likes to take portraits of various models, including:
Rheims also produces particularly prestigious portraits, the most famous being the official portrait of the President of the Republic Jacques Chirac.
Finally, Rheims collaborated with world famous celebrities such as Madonna, Claudia Schiffer, and Kylie Minogue. Her work is therefore ideal to discover the techniques of studio portrait photography.
Born in 1928, he died in 1991 in Paris. Guy Bourdin was a fashion photographer and advertising photographer particularly recognized by the profession!
Guy Bourdin’s style is totally recognizable.
Constantly refusing exhibitions, retrospectives, and honors, Guy Bourdin was a rather mysterious photographer. His primary goal was to make the readers forget the photographer so that they focused primarily on the image.
Guy Bourdin’s work remains quite transgressive, since the photographer staged sex and violence in a rather raw way.
Framing, color saturation, and his ubiquitous red ensured that the aesthetics of Bourdin did not leave photo fans cold to his work!
First collaborating with magazines such as Vogue France, Vogue Italy, and Harper’s Bazaar, Guy Bourdin’s work fell slightly into oblivion during the second half of his career. It would only after his death that the work of Bourdin returned in the form of many retrospectives!
College and friend of Nicéphore Nièpce, Louis Daguerre resumed the research of Niépce after the latter’s death. In this way, Daguerre is often perceived as the inventor of photography, although his colleague was first to want to fix an image to a substance.
The study of the daguerreotype is an indispensable step for students in photo schools. They can also attend a Chicago photo course on the subject. Or maybe play the Life is Strange video game, where they can follow the adventures of a student in photography!
If the daguerreotype is still popular today among the great photographers, it is because it was at the time a micro-revolution. In the 1830s Daguerre discovered that mercury vapor makes it possible to reveal images, and his invention became popular all over the world!
Why not take a private photo lesson to discover the origins of photography? Or why not read different books on photography in order to learn more?
Born in 1923 in Saint Genis Laval, he died in Paris in 2016. Marc Riboud was a photographer famous for his photographs all over the world!
Photographing France, but also China, Algeria, England or Vietnam, it was in the United States that Marc Riboud took his most famous photograph, entitled The Girl with the Flower.
But it was mainly his work in northern Vietnam during the 1960s that made him a recognized photographer. At the time, very few photographers were allowed to enter the territory; Riboud’s photos were therefore not only aesthetic and poignant, but also rare.
Sometimes shocking, Riboud’s work demonstrates the ugliness, but also the beauty, of life and man.
This is an essential artist for future photojournalists who are eager to partake in international travel and experiences.
Born in 1942 in Villefranche sur Saone, Raymond Depardon is a French photographer, journalist, and filmmaker.
Take snaps around the world like Raymond Depardon!
Founder of the Gamma photography agency, Raymond Depardon works in the film industry and is recognized for his many documentary films.
On the photography side of things, Raymond Depardon covered some of the most important historical events, such as the Vietnam War or the Algerian War as a photojournalist.
The SLR camera is essential to become a pro photographer.
What if you discovered different photography techniques with a private photography tutor?