Janine Niepce was born in 1921 and was one of France’s first demale photojournalists. She is a distant relative of Nicéphore Niepce, who invented photography. An art and archeology graduate, she started out in 1946 after following a correspondence course in photography with Prisma.
Initially freelance, she has been with the Rapho press agency since since 1955. She has had numerous exhibitions in France and around the world and is the author of 16 books.
Here is what she has to say about her work... 'For 50 years I have been taking photographs of French women's traditional lifestyle and how it has changed. Campaigns for greater gender equality and scientific and technical progress are gradually changing the lives of our fellow citizens and society as a whole. My reportages on family planning (contraception, the right to abortion, the Veil law), highly-skilled jobs, wage inequality, feminist movements, the new relationships between men and women, creches, gender equality in politics, and the women who have shaped history are a few examples.
My book 'Les années femme' published by La Martinière in 1993, brings together the different strands of this work. It is in the stories they choose that male and female photographers differ, not in their sensibility. All artists have different sensibilities, irrespective of their gender. Another of my chosen themes is rural people. Coming from a family of winegrowers in Burgundy has developed in me a special liking for those who work the land: their traditional way of life, which is disappearing, and their move towards the modern world. I have twice toured France, but Paris is my home. Paris bewitches me and I never cease taking pictures of it. This work was brought together in three books: 'France', 'Mes années campagne' (my years in the country) and 'Images d'une vie' (a life in pictures)
My stories on distant countries, such as Japan, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada and the USA, did not give me as much pleasure as time was too short. I always give priority to essays on women. History, with a capital 'H', has often overlooked their actions and their accomplishments. My pictures are testimonies which aim to arouse emotion without forgetting visual impact.
We know neither the names nor the works of French female portait or d photographers from the beginning of photography to the 1920s. These unknown works would be an enriching discovery for the history of photography.'
"France" published by Editions Actes Sud in 1992 with a preface by Marguerite Duras. "Mes années campagne", "Images d'une vie" published by La Martinière in 1994 and 1995 respectively and "Les Vendanges" to be published in September 2000 by Editions Hoëbeke