This is what Wikipedia has to say about the great Robert Doisneau:
“Robert Doisneau (14 April 1912 – 1 April 1994) was a French photographer. In the 1930s he used a Leica on the streets of Paris. He and Henri Cartier-Bresson were pioneers of photojournalism. He is renowned for his 1950 image Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall), a photograph of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris. Robert Doisneau was appointed a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour in 1984.”
Going over his body of work today, i came across the iconic “Kiss by the Town Hall”, arguably one of the most famous kisses ever captured on film. It was mesmerizing.
From GBPosters.com on Flickr.
Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville. Notice that what makes this photo great is not the kiss, but (1) the layers in the shot – foreground, subject, post-subject and even post-post-subject! – and (2) the woman’s expression off the man’s left shoulder as she seems to be looking directly into the photo. There is a great deal of complexity and engagement in this photo. That coupled with the obvious emotion of the kiss, and you have a winner.
It took me a moment to realize that i had captured a similar image just the day before when i attended a friend’s wedding reception. It doesn’t quite have the complexity and layering of Doisneau’s, but it does add a complementary element to the kiss, something completely unexpected: laughter.
Perhaps an uncle, portly, and happy with a glass of champagne in hand, laughing. For me, it makes the shot — there at least a dozen others in the contact sheet for this particular moment, and i junked them all in favour of this one split moment when the uncle lit up with a laugh.
Lesson to self — be over-productive when with a camera. Take the shot. Take many shots. You never know what may just end up in the frame.
Shameless self-plug: I’ve submitted the photo above entitled, “A Kiss and A Laugh”, to the DIGI WWWOW awards under the category, “Best Photojournalist” which is essentially an award for a photojournalistic photo. Would appreciate it very much if you could click on the image below and cast a vote in my favour. Thank you, and God bless.