A tribute to Robert Doisneau

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. 

Robert Doisneau - Kiss

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.