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Marc Riboud: The Poet of Photographic Journalism

French Photographer

Marc Riboud

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Marc Riboud – Wikipedia

Marc Riboud [1923 – 2016] was a French photographer renowned for his extensive travels and ability to capture pivotal moments of historical and cultural significance. 

Born in Lyon, France, Riboud first took up photography with his father’s Vest Pocket Kodak camera and later pursued it passionately after World War II. 

He is best known for his association with Magnum Photos, which he joined in 1953 upon the invitation of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa

Riboud’s work includes iconic images such as the painter on the Eiffel Tower and a young woman presenting a flower to soldiers during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration. 

His photography is celebrated for its poetic grace and the gentle humanism he portrays amid powerful events. 

Riboud’s career allowed him to document cultures and conflicts worldwide, leaving behind a legacy of insightful, compassionate imagery.

Read the full Biography below.

Photography Quotes From Marc Riboud

"Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." - Marc Riboud
📸 Did you know?
Marc Riboud’s iconic photograph of a protester holding a flower in front of bayonet-wielding soldiers during an anti-Vietnam War rally was actually taken on his first day ever in Washington, D.C. This image became one of the most memorable symbols of the peace movement.

Videos about Marc Riboud

📸 Did you know?
Before becoming a full-time photographer, Riboud trained as an engineer and worked in a factory, which he left to travel and pursue photography. This drastic career change was inspired by his fascination with capturing the complexities of human life.

Photography Books: Marc Riboud

📸 Did you know?
Although Riboud captured conflicts and revolutions, he preferred to photograph the quiet moments of daily life, believing that these scenes were more truthful and telling than any battlefield image. His work emphasizes the beauty and dignity of ordinary moments.

Biography of Marc Riboud

Early Life and Education

Marc Riboud was born on June 24, 1923, in Saint-Genis-Laval, France, into a family of seven children. His upbringing in a household that valued the arts deeply influenced his creative development. 

Riboud’s interest in photography began at an early age when his father gifted him a Vest Pocket Kodak camera on his 14th birthday. 

This early introduction to photography ignited a passion that would shape the rest of his life.

World War II and Early Career

The outbreak of World War II interrupted Riboud’s education. He joined the French Resistance during the war, a formative experience that instilled in him a deep sense of commitment to humanitarian and social issues. 

After the war, Riboud studied engineering at the École Centrale de Lyon. 

In 1948, he took his first trip outside France, traveling throughout Europe with his camera. This trip marked the beginning of his career as a photographer.

Joining Magnum Photos

In 1953, after working a brief stint in a factory, Riboud decided to pursue photography full-time. 

His talent was quickly recognized by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, co-founders of Magnum Photos, the prestigious international cooperative of photographers. 

Riboud became one of the first members of Magnum, marking the start of a long and illustrious career in photojournalism.

Photographic Journeys and Major Projects

Riboud traveled extensively throughout his career, documenting significant historical events and everyday life in over 100 countries. 

His photographic journeys took him to the East, where he captured some of the first Western images of post-revolution China. 

He also traveled extensively in India, the Soviet Union, and other parts of Asia, showcasing his ability to capture the essence of diverse cultures.

Iconic Photographs and Humanism

Riboud’s work is characterized by its humanistic approach and his ability to find beauty in ordinary moments. 

One of his most famous photographs, taken in 1967 during a demonstration against the Vietnam War at the Pentagon, shows a young protester, Jan Rose Kasmir, holding a chrysanthemum up to the bayonets of soldiers. 

This image, titled “The Ultimate Confrontation: The Flower and the Bayonet,” became an iconic symbol of peaceful protest and the anti-war movement.

Exhibitions and Awards

Over the decades, Riboud’s photographs were exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. 

His work earned him numerous awards, including two Overseas Press Club awards, reflecting his significant contributions to photojournalism.

Later Life and Legacy

In his later years, Riboud gradually withdrew from fieldwork, focusing instead on revisiting and organizing his extensive archive of photographs. 

He continued to engage with photography through editing and preparing exhibitions. 

Riboud passed away on August 30, 2016, in Paris, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire photographers and photojournalists.


Riboud’s work has been compiled into several books, including photographs from China and the Soviet Union, as well as his extensive travels. 

These publications underscore his role as a witness to some of the 20th century’s most pivotal moments and a documentarian of the human condition.


Marc Riboud’s career spanned over sixty years, during which he documented the global landscape with sensitivity and a profound sense of justice. 

His photographic legacy is characterized by a distinctive style that combines poetic grace with a deep commitment to capturing the dignity of human beings. 

Riboud remains a towering figure in the world of photography, celebrated for his ability to encapsulate complex global narratives through the lens of his camera. 

His work continues to resonate, offering timeless insights into the human spirit and the transformative power of photography.

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