Marc Brincourt behind the scenes journey as photo editor-in-chief of Paris Match

Pictures speak a thousand words 

We had the privilege of meeting Marc Brincourt, the passionate former Chief Editor of the weekly Paris Match, at the Yacht Club of Monaco invited by the Monaco Press Club in collaboration with the Alliance Française and the Pen Club of the Principality. (Photo: Marc Brincourt @Celina Lafuente de Lavotha)

Marc has been working at Paris Match for twenty-eight years, so the photo archives of Paris Match are part of his DNA. He is currently a photo editor in charge of iconography and was curator of the iconic exhibition Les Stars et la Seine in 2014, a selection of rare photographs, mostly published in the famous magazine.

As a collection director, he collaborated on a dozen photo books. He has participated for ten years in the Grand Prize Paris Match student photo essay, by selecting the photo files and giving lectures in recognized colleges. He is co-author, together with his father, the famous reporter Christian Brincourt, of Brigitte Bardot, the little fiancée of Paris Match.

Marc talked candidly and enthusiastically about his experiences during his long tenure at Paris Match and projected amazing entertaining clips of heads of state and celebrities worldwide whose lives were immortalized in photos in the magazine. We could have stayed all night long listening to his stories!

He explained that the profession of Match photographer had changed radically over the years.  The stars used to be friends with Paris Match reporters and photographers; it was a relationship of mutual trust. Today it is less direct as they have press officers, agents, lawyers who are the gatekeepers.

“The magazine had a friendly relationship with Brigitte Bardot, for example, whom we called the Petite Fiancée of Paris Match, used to call us directly to offer to follow her on a trip or at a party. At the Film Festival in Cannes, the photographers were invited to the guest rooms, allowing for more intimate shots.”

The culture of photography is also essential at Paris Match, and Marc Brincourt insists on this approach stating that it is vital to know the work of other photographers, their emblematic shots, and his or her career. It is an integral part of any Match photographer and shows deep respect for the work of photojournalism. The Paris Match teams strive to tell a story soaked in humanity and uniqueness and come face to face with the reader with compelling photos.

Marc said that over 25,000 photos land daily at the editorial office, and you have to choose the ones that will appear in the next issue and make a lasting statement. As of late, a digital wall has replaced the traditional cork panel to present the magazine’s storyline, enabling you to have a complete view of the next issue and to make the last adjustments before printing.

The magazine is also known for its eye-catching people covers, many of which are unforgettable. We find personalities as remarkable as Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Jacques Chirac, François Mitterrand, Jeanne Moreau, or Pope John Paul II. Plus, many photos of the members of the royal house of Monaco, with whom Paris Match has a long-standing friendly relationship that may have been interrupted at times, but continues.

When asked how an editor chooses the photos for the next issue, Marc said the objective is to tell a story, and above all, surprise the reader, so he has the impression of never having seen that elsewhere. The photo is the template of Paris Match, and there is no article without a good picture. The first question the team asks when they meet to decide on a topic is, which is the lead photo to open the subject.

Iconic snapshots auctioned

In November 2019, Brincourt curated the exhibition at the Cornette de Saint Cyr auction house in Paris. More than 120 selected snapshots of personalities who have marked the news, politics, or show-biz, and who have made the covers or double pages of Paris Match during its 70 years of ‘existence, was sold to the higher bidders, who took home a part of the magazine’s history.

Paris Match: 70 years

Marc talked about the book he co-authored with Patrick Mahe (former Editor in Chief) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Paris Match, 1949-2019. The book, entitled Paris Match: 70 Years, retraces the seven decades of the existence of the famous weekly, 3,670 issues of news, reports, events that dictate history, week after week, under the gaze of hundreds of thousands of readers. The two authors waded into the magazine archives containing over 15 million photos, including those never published before, a colossal task!

Over 2 million copies were sold for the issue of the visit of Elisabeth II, then young Queen of England, or for the farewell to General de Gaulle in 1970! Paris Match is on the front line to cover conflicts around the world, the disasters that mourn the planet, the events that make history, or the exploits of men.

Paris Match is also in the limelight to share the life of our idols and royalty, dazzle us at fashion shows and more. The book is a voyage looking back on 70 years of a legendary magazine, through the major themes that have made its success, exceptional documents, unforgettable moments perpetuated forever in the magazine. 

Today’s Quote 

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Ansel Adams

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