R O B E R TxxD O I S N E A U

"Kiss at the Hotel de Ville, Paris, 1950"

There's no doubt that this is a great photograph but I'd like you to let me know whether or not it matters to you that the kissing couple were actors, paid by Doisneau to pose for his camera.

- Does knowing that this is not an actual spontaneous moment change the way you feel when you look at the picture ?

- Does it spoil it somewhat or do you agree with many of the critics who say that all photographs are manipulated to a degree anyway, (be it in the framing or choice of lens, etc.), so it matters not if a picture is taken from real life or staged ?

- Would you prefer a caption to inform the viewer that the photograph was set up or not, so you know what you're looking at when you view a photograph?

I would be very grateful to anyone who would e-mail me their views. Please click on the "contact me" sign at the bottom right of this page. Many thanks.


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I'm in the early stages of writing a dissertation for my Degree course in Editorial Photography. I'd like to know what other people think about the whole issue of staging photos and trying to pass them off as real life. By running a small survey I am hoping to gather original views from all sides of the argument.

Of course there are many examples in which the authenticity of a photograph has raised far more serious questions than this one (eg. Daily Mirror's use of fake/staged Iraqi prisoner abuse pictures, Bush administration's use of John Kerry/Jane Fonda fake Vietnam war protest pictures, etc.) so there's more to this than simply debating how enjoyable a photo is or not. This photo in particular resonates with me and many other street photographers because it represented much of what we aim for when we go out hunting for pictures each day. To find out that it was a set up was like finding out that Sir Alf Ramsey paid off the Germans in 1966 *, or that Bob Dylan didn't write his own songs.

When this picture was first published by LIFE magazine in 1950 it was shown as part of a series of similarly posed kissing shots taken around Paris (see left). The accompanying article described them as "unposed". The picture has been reproduced on posters, t-shirts, etc., for many years since and the issue of authenticty was only exposed in court in the early 1990's (its a long story!).

*Sir Alf Ramsey was the coach of the England football team that won the World Cup for the only time ever by beating West Germany in the 1966 Final.




Please send me an e-mail with the subject titled either:

"doisneau-bothered" (if it matters to you that the picture was posed)


"doisneau-not bothered" (if not).

Please include your views on this or any issue. I'm sorry I can't offer anything in return but I may well post your views up on this page unless you state you'd prefer me not to.

Many thanks, Ian Hughes.

contact me