Marc Riboud

Afghan woman dusting a boy against typhus
WHO/Marc Riboud

Marc Riboud was born in 1923 in Lyon, France. After World War II, during which he was active in the French Resistance, he studied engineering at the Ecole Centrale in Lyon. He worked as an industrial engineer in Lyon before teaching himself photography. In 1953, he moved to Paris where he joined the Magnum Photo agency and travelled extensively. An icon of photojournalism, Mr Riboud served as vice-president of the Magnum Paris office from 1958 to 1975, as President for Paris and New York from 1975 to 1976 and as Chairman of the Board from 1976 to 1977. He received the Overseas Press Club Award in 1967 and 1970.

From 1956 to 1958, Mr Riboud produced four photo stories for WHO. He travelled to Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Turkey covering WHO work on insect-borne diseases control and mother and child healthcare. His images appeared in World Health in 1958 and 1960.

An Iranian village becomes health conscious: Iran, 1958
In these photographs, Marc Riboud documented the work of a team of WHO health professionals in the rural district of Sabzewar, Iran. At the request of the Iranian government, the team launched a pilot project to improve basic sanitation conditions and control insect-borne diseases.

Birth of a Turkish child: Turkey, 1956
This photo report tells the story of a Turkish mother preparing for the arrival of her ninth child. Mrs Toprak, who lives in the capital city of Ankara, receives pre-natal care from the WHO-supported Ankara Mother and Child Health Centre.

The winter anti-typhus campaign: Afghanistan, 1955-1956
Marc Riboud photographed a WHO-led project to combat typhus in Afghanistan during the winter of 1955-1956. The most effective means of containing the disease was by dusting the population with insecticide powder. As Mr Riboud explains, "In the winter of 1955-1956 the anti-typhus campaign covered all provinces of Afghanistan and 1 432 431 persons were dusted. During this winter no cases of typhus were reported to the Ministry of Public Health which gives an evidence of an efficiency of the operation undertaken [...]".

"Riboud […] points to the complex and varying ways that the world takes shape, while his pictures tell us the world comes to life - with all its beauty, hope and despair - because of the design and shape people give it. His passion for people dominates."
-- Judith Mara Gutman. In: Colin Naylor, ed. Contemporary Photographers, Chicago and London, St. James, 1998.