The fashion photography of Raymond Voinquel is little known compared to his work as the finest still-photographer and portraitist to the stars of a golden age of French cinema. For over 40 years, he collaborated with the greatest directors in France: Marcel l’Herbier, Jean Cocteau, Abel Gance, Max Ophuls, Marcel Carné, and Sacha Guitry; the latter called on Voinquel for every one of his films.
It was at the beginning of Voinquel’s career, around 1935, that he first tried his hand at fashion photography, using it as a means for experimentation, drawing directly on his negatives, or being the first photographer in France to take his models out of the studio and into the streets. He went back and forth between his work in fashion and cinema, his goal always being to transform the given into dream-like images. And even though cinema and fashion may seem very close, a photographer split between these two worlds is a rarity. It didn’t take long for Voinquel to abandon fashion and dedicate himself entirely to his first love: the cinema. He threw himself completely into projects as soon as they were thought of by writers or directors, and was at times responsible for the meetings between them and the stars; he was thus the catalyst for the advent of certain films. Had he desired, he could have gone much further in fashion, imposing his talent and his ideas so modern for the time, but he was undoubtedly not stimulated enough by the prospects of the milieu, too often worried about preserving a conventional image, with room for innovation allowed only to the couturiers.
His obsession with the cinema permeates all his work; his landscapes at night look like sets in a studio and his train stations might be confused with film stills. It is artifice, the seemingly real which fascinates Voinquel.