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Todd Webb : Post-War Paris 1949-1952


After several fruitful years making photographs of New York City, Todd Webb needed a change. On February 17th, 1949, he boarded the ‘SS America’ and steamed off for Paris on a wing and a prayer. He knew he had at least three months of work from Roy Stryker on the Standard Oil project but that was all.

Ten days later he was on the streets of Paris making his first negatives with his 8×10 camera. He quickly found himself having the time of his life — socializing with other artists such as Gordon Parks, Man Ray, Robert Doisneau, Brassai, Mary Callery, Louis Stettner, among others.

In his journal Todd often worried about money and whether or not he could make a real go of it in Paris. At one point, he considered selling one of his cameras to stay afloat:

“Poverty often leads to desperation – but with all the useless junk I have that is sale-able – the Leica and my wire recorder, I can’t say that I am in real poverty. I could get enough out of those two things to keep me going for a few months – a few months of real solid work on Paris – enough material for a fine book, I am sure. I love this place and it takes real love to get it down on paper.”

Determined as always, Todd became involved in making pictures for the Marshall Plan and managed to spend three years in France, returning to New York in early 1952.


The Todd Webb Archive is located in Portland, Maine, USA and is open by appointment only.

For information about prints and upcoming exhibitions, please contact Betsy Evans Hunt at :


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