Once upon a time there was a boy who loved to hang out with his camera, taking shots of the family and friends, of all the action.
There was a lot of action.
So much fun and games and fooling around:
And turning the world upside down was so easy:
And the cyclecar was oh so fast!
Besides, there were real car races:
And first aeroplane flights:
And beautiful ladies:
And exciting Paris where you could lose your or some else's fortune in one minute
(what are the horse races for?):
But one day this joyous world suddenly became serious. It was the War. The young man (he was twenty by then) didn't go to the trenches. He had to stay at home, declared unfit for the service. So he volunteered his posh Pic-Pic 16 HP car and himself to the military hospital.
And in 1915 started his art studies at the Académie Jullian. Yes, he always wanted to be a painter. None of his early photographs was intended for publication or any other form of public exposure. Isn't it remarkable that he never put a negative into a wastebasket and after decades any of his shots could be found (with an exact date) and printed?
It's time to give you the name: Jacques Henri Lartigue
. He came from a family of means, he took his first photograph at the age of six and had a vast array of photographic equipment at his service while still being a teenager. Yeah, some guys have all the luck!
The shutter clicked just for fun.
Lartigue tried every technique possible - color photography, panoramic, stereoscopic (see some of his stereo shots here
He took pictures of his beautiful girlfriend:
of laughing dancers:
of lovely tennis player:
of Florette, his third wife - like this:
or like that:
And candid shots (another traveler in time?):
Now, to his official biography:
"His acquaintances in the world of the arts included Sacha Guitry and Yvonne Printemps, Kees van Dongen, Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, while his passion for movies saw him work as still photographer with Jacques Feyder, Abel Gance, Robert Bresson, François Truffaut and Federico Fellini.
Although Lartigue occasionally sold his pictures to the press and exhibited at the Galerie d’Orsay alongside Brassaï, Man Ray and Doisneau, his reputation as a photographer was not truly established until he was 69, with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the publication of a portfolio in Life. He now added his father’s first name to his own surname, becoming Jacques Henri Lartigue. Worldwide fame came three years later with his first book, The Family Album, followed in 1970, by Diary of a Century, conceived by Richard Avedon. In 1975 he had his first French retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. For the rest of his life, Lartigue was busy answering commissions from fashion and decoration magazines.
He also produced the official photograph of the new French president, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
He died in Nice on September 12, 1986."
Before you leave this page, please click on this link
and read an essay by Richard Avedon
, a great professional photogrpaher who "discovered" Lartigue. Just one passage:
"From the earliest possible age Lartigue kept a little diary. At the top of each page there was always a drawing of the sun or a cloud ... and some initials: T.B., B., T.T.B. They stood for Trés beau. Beau. Trés Trés beau ... That was the weather. It was always a good day. It almost never rained. Ever ... And then there would be a quick description of what he did that day. Who visited the house. Where they went ... And half the page devoted to drawings of what he'd photographed, because the developing was a very risky process and often the pictures didn't come out. So, afraid that he might never see the pictures that he'd taken, he would draw from memory what he'd photographed. And in the diaries, which went on for many years, you can see the photographs that have since become masterpieces ... drawn. And the miracle of these little drawings is that he had captured exactly the way a scarf had been caught by the wind the moment he clicked the shutter. And they are accurate. Absolutely accurate. Which means a perfect memory ... and a complete sense of what he'd wanted."