Riboud, Marc

French (1923-)

Marc Riboud came to photography later in life, having studied engineering during WWII and working in the field until 1951. That year, he took a 7-day vacation to snap some photographs as a pastime – and never returned to his job. Shortly thereafter, he joined up with the founders of Magnum Photos, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, who began mentoring him in his newfound career. Largely due to their influence, Riboud’s photographs today are recognized for their simplicity and elegance of composition; it is not unusual to find his lens focusing upon a single human figure against a variety of backgrounds – both natural and man-made. In each instance, the power of the human spirit stands out among even the most stunning backdrops.  

In 1957, Riboud was one of the first European photographers to head to China, initiating a life-long interest in the East, especially China and Vietnam, in which he has published several books of photographs. In his travels, Riboud was able to witness firsthand the atrocities of war and the anguish of people living under oppressive regimes. With his camera, though, he captured rare moments of beauty and tranquility amidst the pain. An iconic anti-war image in this vein finds a young girl confronting rifle-holding soldiers at a protest just outside the Pentagon in 1967.