L'Obs Spécial Paris Photo Issue with Creative Director, Serge Ricco


Paris Photo is an annual event devoted to photography and French weekly, L’Obs, highlights this occasion with a dedicated issue. We spoke with Creative Director Serge Ricco about last year’s special issue and the publication’s very first one.

SPD: Tell us about l'Obs’ photo issue.
Serge Ricco:
We are very happy because we can do this special issue every year but we have to find a sponsor that allows us to finance our issue. The photo market in France is very important. We must not forget that photography was invented in France in 1826 by Niépce. The influx of the photo market was about 60,000 visitors in four days. We offer our readers insight to the Paris region.

SPD: What was the brainstorming process like?
The idea was clear to give our readers a beautiful item that he will keep. I immediately thought of the special photo issues published in the 70’s by Le Nouvel Observateur (the old name of "L’Obs”). We took over the principle of folding which allowed us to have a big format to highlight the photographs.

SPD: How did you decide which photographers to include?
SR: Bernard Geniès
, the journalist and Véronique Rautenberg, the photo chief made a first selection among the 150 galleries on the market. After that, I made my own choice with the layout. It only remained for the journalist to fill the white void with his articles.

SPD: How did you decide on the cover?
Choosing this cover was as obvious. Agfa-Gevaert is a legendary brand of photography. I also liked the idea of this mise en abyss of photography with these cans of photographic developers. 

SPD: What was your favorite photo from the issue?
For me all the pics in the issues are my favorites even though I am very sensitive to the first picture inside, the bondage nude by Jo Ann Calls in 1976.

SPD: How has the photo issue changed since the first one in 1977?
The first Special Issue was designed by Robert Delpire in 1977. The logotype was designed also by Annegret Beier from Herb Lubalin’s french studio. Bob Delpire is an important man in the photography world as an editor. He was the first to publish Robert Frank’s book “The Americans” with a great cover illustrated by Saul Steinberg in 1958. He then published all the books of Cartier-Bresson, financed by his work at an advertising agency. He died just before the release of our first issue last year. This special photo issue was the best way to pay tribute to him.