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Ronis's father had been a photographer and photo retoucher, with a studio on Boulevard Voltaire. Although Ronis later repudiated the kind of work his father did - "conventional portraits made to tickle petit-bourgeois vanity", as Gautrand writes, rather severely - he learned the rudiments of his craft in the family workshop. At 16 he was given a Kodak camera, and began to take pictures of Paris street life.

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What started as a hobby would soon turn into an obsession and, presently, a profession. In , when Ronis had finished his military service, his father fell seriously ill, and the son was forced to take over the running of the studio. When his father died, four years later, Ronis sold the business and, as he said, "ventured - fearfully - into freelance photography".

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He met, among others, the photographers David "Chim" Seymour and Robert Capa, two of the founders of the Magnum agency. Then came the war, and Ronis, who was part Jewish, was forced to flee Paris for the south. Back in Paris after the Liberation, Ronis secured a number of commissions, notably from SNCF, the national railway company, and Life magazine, for which he worked for two years up to ; it was, he wrote, "the Golden Age", but like all such blissful intervals it came to an end. Having covered everything from skiing tournaments in the Alps to major strikes in French factories, he came into conflict with the management of Life, who on one assignment said he would not be allowed to write his own captions.

It was a moral issue. As Gautrand writes, the images in the book, "full of light and happiness. In , disillusioned with a Paris in which he felt he had been sidelined by a new generation of photographers, such as William Klein and Jeanloup Sieff, Ronis moved to Gordes, in Vaucluse, where he worked mostly for himself, and taught in photographic schools in Avignon, Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence.

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Some of his most beautiful and sensuous photographs date from this period. In he moved back to Paris, where the genius of his work had once again been recognised. Ronis's photography is in the grand humanist tradition: warm, witty and compassionate yet clear-eyed and unflinching in its honesty.

For him, as for Cartier-Bresson, form is all. As he beautifully puts it: "A fine image is geometry modulated by the heart. Only the most unyielding attention and restless sensitivity to the moment can explain this wonderful harvest. Who were the musicians and performers that made you jump and jive? Do you remember the local bands that shook the dance floors?

What has become of all those artists? Who knows about their whereabouts. Who can tell their life stories? Although it is known that recordings have been made before Namibian independence in , they are difficult to trace and are in danger of disappearing altogether.

Stolen Moments

Help us find and safeguard those precious old recordings, be it longplayers, singles, sound reels or cassette tapes. Photo, Film and other Media How can we reconstruct a whole era if only a few images of the past exist?

How can we imagine, visualize and experience customs, fashion, trends and styles? We are looking for old photos, magazines and posters that document our musical past. Have a look at your private photo collections and archives and share what can take us back to 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

From duck tails to afros and bellbottoms, balroom dacing, discos, parties, and concerts; any image that brings back the spirit of your youth culture counts.


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