Édouard Boubat Photography

Édouard Boubat (1923-1999) was born in Paris and studied typography and graphic arts at École Estienne. He worked for a printing company before becoming a photographer. In 1943 he was subjected to “service du travail obligatoire ” -the forced enlistment and deportation of hundreds of thousands of French workers to Nazi Germany to work as forced labour for the German war effort during World War II. He took his first photograph after the war in 1946 and was awarded the Kodak Prize the following year.

The poet Jacques Prévert called him a “peace photographer,” for Boubat was the incarnation of the French humanist, member of a movement without ideology or militants whose urge to capture the simple beauty of everyday life distinguishes their work. His first image, of a tiny girl wearing an outfit of fallen leaves in the Luxembourg gardens, was made in 1946 and became a classic. A photoengraver by trade until 1950, his personal work, especially that featuring his muse Lella, indicated unusual talent.

Working under the inspired editorship of Bertie Gilou for the innovative magazine “Realities” 1950-70, Boubat flourished as a globetrotting journalist, but for a magazine that concerned itself more with science, industry, and economic development than with war or conflict. The role suited his temperament, for it allowed him to make small groups of images around a loosely defined subject, rather than detailed picture stories. His dictum was “To photograph is to express gratitude.” His work dealt with simple domestic and personal events, or work, trade, and industry. His “personal” photography produced a charming body of images, where the nude, children, cats, and his own family figure extensively.

Famous Photography Quotes from Edouard Boubat

  • Taking photographs is not something that happens only in a moment I press the button. It is a full-time occupation. For me there is difference between leisure and work.
  • A photographer is a witness. He has a moral duty. Every picture must be true and honest. I believe a photographer’s strength is his ability to accurately record reality. There are photographers who think they are lucky if they find unusual or special subject. But it is never the subject that is so marvelous. It is how alive and real the photographer can make it.
  • My pictures do not belong to me.
  • There are certain pictures I can never take. We turn on the TV and are smothered with cruelty and suffering and I don’t need to add to it. So I just photograph peaceful things. A vase of flowers, a beautiful girl. Sometimes, through a peaceful face, I can bring something important into the world.
  • To live, to experience the world, to communicate with a camera, all these are interrelated and cannot be separated from everyday live.

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