Our Artists

Sabine Weiss

Sabine Weiss is a humanist photographer, fascinated by the individual whose emotions she seeks to capture. She has produced portraits of the great names in music, literature, art, etc. She was made a Knight of the Arts and Literature in 1987 and an Officer of the Arts and Literature in 1999.


Decisive encounters

Having studied photography in Geneva under Frédéric Boissennas, Sabine Weiss moved to Paris where she worked as an assistant to the fashion photographer Willy Maywald. She says of this period: “When I arrived in Paris, I got a job with Maywald, to whom a friend had recommended me [...] With him I learned the importance of natural light [...] as a source of emotion".

In 1950, she became a freelance photographer. Her meeting with Robert Doisneau in the offices of Vogue was decisive as it led to her joining the Rapho agency of which Doisneau was a member, along with Willy Ronis and Édouard Boubat.

That same year, she married the American painter Hugh Weiss and became friendly with personalities from the art world, such as Jean Cocteau and Maurice Utrillo.

Her contract with Vogue ended in 1961.

Sabine Weiss travelled the world and published a large number of reports in a range of magazines, such as Time, Life, Newsweek, Town and Country, Holiday and Paris Match.

In 1955, Edward Steichen chose three of her photographs for the The Family of Man exhibition.

A humanist photographer

Sabine Weiss likes to photograph people going about their daily lives. She tries to capture their emotions in her photographs:  “I take photographs to hold on to the ephemeral, capture chance, keep an image of something that will disappear: gestures, attitudes, objects that are reminders of our brief lives. The camera picks them up and freezes them at the very moment that they disappear”. “I love this constant dialogue between myself, my camera and my subject, which is what differentiates me from certain other photographers, who don’t seek this dialogue and prefer to distance themselves from their subject”.

Her work forms part of the current of what is known as “humanist” photography: “Light, gesture, expression, movement, silence, rest, rigour, relaxation... I’d like to incorporate everything into this moment so that the person’s essence is expressed with the minimum of means.”


The book Sabine Weiss presents 200 of the artist’s best-known photographs.

In 2008, Sabine Weiss published 100 photos de Sabine Weiss pour la liberté de la presse (100 photos by Sabine Weiss for the freedom of the press) in collaboration with Reporters sans frontières.


Sabine Weiss’ photographs are presented in the collections of several museums worldwide:

- Museum of Modern Art, New York (MOMA) and Kyoto
Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York
Art Institute of Chicago
Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne
Georges Pompidou Centre ,Paris
Maison européenne de la photograph , Paris
Kunsthaus, Zurich
Musée français de la photographie

Useful links

Two major books:

Le livre des photographies de l'année 2008 (The book of photographs of 2008)

100 photos de Sabine Weiss pour la liberté de la presse (100 photos by Sabine Weiss for the freedom of the press)

Sabine Weiss 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Petite moquerie Prints and posters Kid, Paris, 1955

Nationality(ies) : French, Swiss
Born on : Née en 1964
Profile : Designer
Artistic current(s) : Humanist Photography, Photojournalism
Theme(s) covered : Celebrities, Portraits - Characters