World-renowned French photographer Marc Riboud, who died on Aug. 20, 2016 at age 93, was most recognized for two very famous photographs: the girl with the flower facing National Guardsmen poised with bayonets during an anti-Vietnam march on the Pentagon; and the whimsical image of a painter balancing precariously on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Over the years, Riboud’s globetrotting and keen eye produced a wealth of imagery from China to Iran to West Africa.
The March on the Pentagon and this 1967 iconic photo of seventeen-year-old Jan Rose Kasmir, first published in Life Magazine, helped turn public opinion against the U.S. war in Vietnam.
In an interview with The Guardian years later, Kasmir said she didn’t consider herself fearless: “This was before Kent State, so who would ever think that they would kill me?
“None of them made eye contact. They stonewalled me. But the photographer later told me he noticed them shaking. I think they were afraid they were going to be told to fire at us.”
A street in Beijing as seen from inside an antique dealer’s shop in China, 1965.
Riboud first worked as an engineer before turning to photography and moving to Paris. The legendary street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, and co-founder of the collective, Magnum Photos, was a mentor for Riboud in the City of Light.
Riboud was one of the first Western photographers allowed into China after the country’s Cultural Revolution in 1957.
Much of his work over the years focused on daily life. In places like China and India, that meant often capturing people impacted by major cultural and industrial transformation in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
People dress after bathing in the Ganges in Benares, India, 1956.
In 1955, Riboud used an old Land Rover to travel from Paris to Calcutta with stops in Istanbul and Afghanistan. He spent a year photographing and traveling through India before eventually making his way to China and Russia.
His 2012 book, “Marc Riboud Into the Orient,” was born out of his three-year sojourn.
Zazou, the Eiffel Tower’s painter, in Paris, 1953.
This photo (Riboud’s first published one) debuted in Life magazine. The Eiffel Tower image prompted an invite from his mentor and war photographer Robert Capa to join Magnum Photos. Riboud remained a member of Magnum until 1979.