Boubat, Edouard

French (1923-1999)

Like many other photographers, Edouard Boubat tried his hand at photography after discontent elsewhere. He’d studied typography and graphic arts, but dreamt of working with a camera. The fantasy paid off; he captured his first image – a shot of a tiny girl wearing an outfit of fallen leaves – in 1946, and was awarded the Kodak prize for it the following year. In search of adventure, he quit his job in 1951 and made his way as a photographer for the remainder of his life, first for the magazine, Realities, and later as a freelance artist.  

While many other photojournalists were covering military conflicts of some sort, Boubat turned his eye toward stories about science, industry or economic development: progress that was being made in the aftermath of battle. This tendency got him labeled something of a humanist: “Because I know war … because I know the horror, I don’t want to add to it … After the war, we need to celebrate life, and for me photography was the means to achieve this.” Traveling through a wide variety of countries and encountering many subjects, Boubat made small groups of images around a loosely defined subject, rather than a detailed picture story in one locale. The result is images that – years later – speak to the general condition of humanity, rather than the specific conditions of a moment in time.