Celebrated French photojournalist Marie-Laure de Decker dies aged 75

Jul 17, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Celebrated French photojournalist Marie-Laure de Decker dies aged 75

Jul 17, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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French photojournalist Marie-Laure de Decker dies aged 75

Renowned French artist Marie-Laure de Decker, who transitioned from modelling to becoming a highly respected war photographer, sadly passed away at 75, according to a statement released by her family on Saturday. After a prolonged illness, De Decker left behind a remarkable legacy in photography.

De Decker was born during the era of French colonization in Algeria, and she initially embarked on a career as a model before venturing into the realm of photography. In the late 1960s, De Decker captured captivating images of artists Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp and writer Philippe Soupault, which would help make her name in the art world.

Despite her relative lack of experience, De Decker fearlessly covered the Vietnam War early in her career and achieved remarkable success. Reflecting on her journey, she wrote in her memoir in 1985, she doubted herself, saying “people are going to see that I’m not a real photographer.”

She recollected that she had only carried an old Leica camera during her endeavours. However, in retrospect, she acknowledged just how good that vintage camera turned out to be.

De Decker faced distinctive challenges as a female war photographer in her work. She once expressed, “As a woman, you’re never taken seriously.” However, she added a glibly, “there is an advantage to being a woman, as was the case in South Africa—they don’t kill you right away, they give you a chance.”

On Saturday, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the current chair of the African Union Commission, paid tribute to the late photographer, expressing his profound sorrow at the news of her passing. He took to Twitter to commemorate her, noting that her photographs “immortalized part of the history of Chad.”

De Decker spent the majority of her career at the esteemed Gamma photo agency, working there from 1971 until its closure in 2009. Regrettably, her association with the agency ended on unfavourable terms when she requested the return of her photographs. Only the black-and-white shots were returned to her, and the coloured ones remained withheld. Despite a subsequent legal battle to reclaim her photos and obtain recognition for her copyright in their digital versions, De Decker’s efforts were in vain.

In addition to her exceptional work in war-torn regions, De Decker’s portfolio boasts striking portraits of celebrities, including renowned actors Catherine Deneuve and Charlotte Rampling, the charismatic singer Serge Gainsbourg, Caroline of Monaco, and former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing. The funds generated from these photographs financed her courageous missions in conflict zones.

In 2013, De Decker’s significant contributions to capturing the reality of war were acknowledged with the prestigious Albert Kahn International Planet Prize.

Image credit: Karim Amar, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

[Via Le Monde]

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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