Niepce, Janine

French (1921-2007)

Janine Niepce holds the distinction of being one of the first photojournalists – and one of a few women photographers - to come to prominence during the 1950s. A native of Burgundy, France, Niepce was a direct descendant of Nicephore Niepce, one of the early pioneers of the photographic medium. Prior to his death, Nicephore worked with Louis Daguerre on a processing technique using lavender oil, a precursor to the latter’s invention, the daguerreotype.

As a young woman studying at the prestigious Sorbonne in the early 40s, Niepce took photographs for the French Resistance movement, going so far as to serve as an officer during the efforts to liberate Paris from the Nazis in 1944. Upon graduating, and fatigued by the war’s toll on Paris, Niepce began her freelance career by traveling the countryside and capturing simple, pastoral scenes. The contrast between these shots and her city images juxtapose two different lifestyles occurring in the aftermath of World War II. Later, during the 1970s, Niepce turned her camera and her efforts toward another liberation movement, capturing women’s struggles for equal wages and control over their own bodies.