Robert Doisneau came into the world in the Parisian suburb of Gentilly on April 14, 1912. After an apprenticeship in lithography, he became a technical assistant to André Vigneau in Paris in 1931, and already one year later he sold his first reportage to the journal "Excelsior".
Beginning in 1934, he was an industrial and advertising photographer for the Renault factory in Billancourt, but five years later he was let go. Robert Doisneau now had a breakthrough as a freelance photographer, worked for "Agence Alliance Photo" and later for the photo agency "Rapho". There he met the poet Blaise Cendrars, with whom he assembled his first photo book in 1949. It was called "La Banlieue de Paris" and documented life in the suburbs of the metropolis.
Robert Doisneau did not have great success with the book; however, he would follow its theme for the rest of his life. He wandered the streets of the city looking for the small stories of entirely normal people. The pictures show a merry, charming and happy Paris that invites one to wallow in nostalgia. One of his most famous pictures – "The Kiss in Front of City Hall" (1950) – shows a couple which, in the middle of a stream of passers-by, kisses deeply. This photograph of a moment of internal happiness became world-famous; it was printed over one million times as a poster.
Not until 43 years later did Robert Doisneau admit that he had used posed actors in the photo, something, however, that does not correspond to his usual work method.
During World War II, Doisneau was active in the résistance; he forged passports for Jewish citizens. After the war, he tried his hand at fashion photography: from 1949-52 he worked for "Vogue", but never found any true pleasure in it. Thereafter he worked in the advertising industry.
A retrospective of his works was published in 1979 with the title "Trois secondes d'éternité" ("Three Seconds of Eternity"). Robert Doisneau published a total of over twenty photo volumes. Some of his photographs, such as the "Kiss in Front of City Hall" mentioned above, "Wedding in a Suburb, Paris" (1945) or "Picasso and the Loaves" (1952) have become nothing less than symbols of the French lifestyle.
Robert Doisneau died in Paris on April 1, 1994.