Picture credits: Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos; Martine Franck/Magnum Photos; David Clark/Amateur Photographer
NEWS UPDATE: Statement issued by Magnum Photos president Alex Majoli on 18 August, as follows:
‘Martine was not only an incredibly talented photographer, she was also a dear friend and colleague to us and an inspiration to many.
‘Magnum has lost a point of reference, a lighthouse, and one of our most influential and beloved members with her death.
‘Her wisdom, wit and intelligence will be missed immensely by all of us.
[original article from 17 August continues below]
Born in Belgium in 1938, Franck grew up in the US and England and was married to French photojournalism legend Henri-Cartier Bresson, who died in 2004.
Franck became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1983.
Among the first to pay tribute was Magnum Photos photographer David Hurn, who has known Martine since she first joined the agency over 30 years ago.
Amateur Photographer (AP) contacted David on 17 August for his reaction to the news.
David said: ‘Martine represented the best of what Magnum was set up to be.
‘She was an elegant, dignified and honest person and – of course – a tremendous photographer.
‘She just had that thing that is a legacy of Magnum – trust and honesty. She reeked of that, fought for it and symbolised it.
‘This was what Magnum was built on and she was a shining example of that – photography other people trusted in.’
A key element of this trust, believes
David, is the unaltered photograph – compromised once image
manipulation software such as Photoshop is used to alter the original shot.
‘Photography loses something the second someone says, for example, “I’ve just got to take out the telegraph pole”,’ he told AP.
Royal Photographic Society director general Michael
Pritchard said: ‘Martine Franck was able to work with her subjects and
bring out their emotions and record their expressions on film, helping
the viewer understand what she had seen in person.
‘Her images were always empathetic with her subject.’
He added: ‘Although Franck partly lived in the shadow of her husband
Henri Cartier-Bresson, her own work was distinctive and she was
instrumental in preserving Cartier-Bresson’s legacy and values through
the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation.’
Among the photos Martine gave David Hurn was an image of a swimming pool, which he treasures as his favourite to this day. The photographers used to swap images with each other.
‘It’s so perfect I suspect a lot of people think it was constructed in Photoshop,’ said David.
The 1976 image was published as part of an Amateur Photographer feature on Martine in 2007, and became one of her most famous photographs.
Martine explained that she saw the scene from a distance and ran to photograph it while changing a roll of film.
Her Magnum colleague Josef Koudelka said of the photo: ‘If you do ten photographs in your life like this one, you’ll be a great photographer.’
Speaking to AP’s David Clark in 2007, Martine said: ‘I didn’t have an instant rapport with the camera.
‘I had to work at it. I was quite a shy young woman and I didn’t dare to really get in close.
‘It took me a while to do that.’
Martine studied art history in Spain and France and worked at Time-Life in Paris as a photographer’s assistant.
After joining the Vu Photo Agency, she contributed to the founding of the Viva agency in 1972.
‘Franck took many portraits of artists and writers, including a noteworthy series of women for Vogue,’ states Magnum on its website.
‘She undertook more far-reaching work for the French Ministry of Women’s Rights in 1983.’
News of the photographer’s death emerged from senior industry sources on Friday.
It is understood that Martine Franck had been ill for some time and had reportedly been suffering from cancer.