Martine Franck was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1938. She spent much of her childhood in the United States and England. She studied art history at the University of Madrid from 1956-1957 and moved on to study at the L'Ecole du Louver in Paris from 1958 to 1962 ( While she was in Paris, Franck met Ariane Mnouchkine who became a huge influence in her life. The two traveled to the Far East which made Franck want to become a photographer. When she returned to Paris, she joined “Time-Life” Photo Laboratories as an assistant for two photographers, Eliot Elisofon and Gjon Mili, who encouraged her to pursue her own projects. In 1964, Mnouchkine persuaded Franck to join Théâtre du Soleil which is a Persian themed theater located in an old munitions factory in Vincennes. Franck became a member of Vu agency in Paris in 1970. Two years later, Franck became one of the founders of Viva agency in Paris. “At the time, Franck was carrying out many portraits of artists and writers, including a noteworthy series of portraits of women for ‘Vogue’" ( In 1983, Franck did a piece for the French Ministry of Women’s Rights which landed her full membership in Magnum Photos.

            Since 1985, Martine Franck has been working with the International Federation of Little Brothers, a non-governmental organization which cares for the elderly and outcasts of society. She spent much of her time working in Ireland and Asia. In 1993, Franck visited a little island off the north-west coast of Ireland called Troy. This island is inhabited by people who only speak the native Gaelic language of Ireland. She studied the community of Troy and wrote about it in her book Tory, Ile aux Confins de l’Europe. When she traveled to Asia, Franck visited Tibetan Buddhist children living in India and Nepal. These children were known as Tulkus and were thought to be the reincarnation of ancient great spiritual leaders. She was assisted by Marilyn Silverstone, a former member of Magnum Photos. Silverstone decided to remain in India to become a Buddhist nun. After much research on the Tibetan culture, Franck published the book Tibetan Tulkus in 2000. In 2003, Franck began a project that documented the “avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson at the Comédie Française” ( Her project’s purpose was to document Wilson’s unique rendition of La Fontaine’s Fables.

            In 2006, Martine Franck visited Japan to promote a film about Cartier-Bresson and work on children’s fashion shots for Japan Vogue magazine.

2004/05   Fables - The French Institute in Berlin, Germany; 
               Rencontres Internationales d’Arles, France
2002/03   Martine Franck Photographe - Musée de la Vie Romantique, Paris, France; Ecole
               Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes, France
1998/00   D’un jour, l’autre - Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France; 
               Magazzini del Sale, Venice, Italy; Mairie de Saint-Ouen l’Aumône, France; 
               Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, USA
2000        Tibetan Tulkus - Moscow House of  Photography, Russia; Rossi Gallery, 
               London, UK
1998/00   Tory Island - The Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland; Old Museum,
               Belfast, Northern Ireland; Galerie Fait et Cause, Paris, France
1992        Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago de Chile, Chile
1991        Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
1989        De Temps en Temps - Centre National de la Photographie, Paris, France
1985        Vingt Contemporains vus par Martine Franck - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris,
1983        Des Femmes et la Création - Maison de la Culture du Havre, France
1982       Galerie Municipale du Château d’Eau, Toulouse, France
1981/82   Le Temps de Vieillir - Musée Niepce, Châlon-sur-Saône, France;
               Malmö Museum, Malmö, Sweden


2004        Fables, Actes Sud, Paris
2002        Martine Franck Photographe, Adam Biro, France
2000        Tibetan Tulkus, images of continuity, Rossi & Rossi, UK
1998/99   D’un jour, l’autre, Le Seuil, France; (One day to the next) Thames & Hudson, UK,
               Aperture, USA
1998        Tory, Ile aux Confins de l’Europe, Benteli, Switzerland
1988        De Temps en Temps, Les Petits Frères des Pauvres, France
1980        Le Temps de Vieillir, Denoël-Filipacchi, France
1978        Les Luberons, Le Chêne, France
1976        Martine Franck, Contrejour, France

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Martine Franck had two major projects; one documented the ancient Gaelic community of Ireland, and the other documented the education system of the TibetanTulkus monks. For her first project,  she was in the Northern part of Ireland and  she traveled to a little island called Troy. While in Troy, She studied the daily life of a traditional Gaelic-speaking community that has been separated from the mainland society. This island gave her much inspiration for her work in photography. She tried to focus on capturing the diversity of people within one society. For her other major project, she traveled to India and Nepal with another member of the Magnum Photo Agency named Marilyn Silverstone. They wanted to study the daily life and religion of the Buddhist Tibetan children. They focused their research on the Tibetan Tulkus monks, which are the young lamas, thought to be the reincarnation of ancient great spiritual masters. She wanted to capture the lives of children who are separated from their religious homeland of Tibet. These children live as outcasts in a society dominated by Islam and Christianity. Also, the Tibetans in India and Nepal live in very poor conditions. Through her work, she wanted to glorify those people who are part of the lower social class in a society.


Martine Franck was recognized as a world-class photographer when she was given full membership into Magnum Photos.


This photograph was taken in at the Shechen Buddhist monastery in Bodnath, Nepal in 1996. The photograph is of a reincarnated child, named Tulku Khentrol Lodro Rabsel and his teacher, Llagyel. At this Buddhist monastery, each child gets an education from one main teacher. According to the article Martine Franck’s Best Shot, “The master usually knew the person the child is supposed to have been reincarnated from - often it was his own master - so they have very close, almost motherly relationships” and it clearly shows in this photograph. Through her research in Nepal she found that the children have to work very hard, because they will one day be passing on the Buddhist teachings themselves. She was there for an hour, just sitting quietly in a corner, observing. She would have never imagined for a second that the bird would perch on the monk's head. In that same article, she says, “That's the wonder of photography - you try and capture the surprises. I was in the right place at the right time, with the right lens on”. The picture is a symbol of peace, and of young people getting along with old people. It is an example of how generations can come together and share common interests despite the age difference.  The tutor looks very peaceful and natural. The young boy looks so happy and amused that the pigeon actually landed on his teacher’s head. The photograph clearly depicts the close relationship between the reincarnated child and his mentor.
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It was Martine Franck’s birthday and her husband, Henri asked her what she would like as a present and she told him that she would be so happy if he would draw a self-portrait. He went straight to work. He sat on their bed with a mirror in front of him, and she was literally lying back watching him when all of a sudden she saw the triple image and thought what a perfect picture to photograph. This is a very interesting photograph. The photograph captures three Henries and it fascinating to see how focused the real Henri is.
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In 1985, Martine Franck collaborated with the International Federation of Little Brothers, which cares for the elderly and outcasts of society. This photograph belongs to the collection of portraits of centenarians. The collection is called Le Temps de Vieillira and according to the article, Twelve Photographers-Martine Franck, “it is the culmination of her reflections on the status and the marginalization of the elderly”. In this photograph an elderly women is being silly and just having fun. Even though she is very old and frail, she still has some tricks up her sleeve. Martine Franck really had strong feelings for the elderly and didn’t treat them like outcasts. This photo shows that the elderly can be fun and have an interesting side. Again, even though they are close to being 100 years old, they can still act like they are much younger.
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Children Displaced by War

This picture is of children displaced by war at the Polataka refugee camp. Frank traveled to southern Sudan to witness the lives of children living in Africa during war. She reveals the struggles that these innocent children have to go through each and every day. Refugee camps throughout Africa house these poor, malnourished children who have nothing left but their friends and family. Franck uses her pictures to be an activist. She wants other people to get involved and solve the problems in the war-torn countries of Africa. This picture reveals the gloominess of the setting, but glorifies the child. Even in times of despair, talent still arises. The child’s picture is well drawn and shows his artistic talent. It makes people realize that Africa is not lost cause. There are intelligent, talented people who cannot escape the war and disease. Franck focuses much of her work on the children who have been outcast by society. In Africa, these people are displaced from their homes and living in fear. Franck wants to expose the psychological damage that war is having on children. This picture is influential because it will promote people to reach out to Africa and try to stop the war and poverty. It plays on people’s emotions and makes them focus on the life of an innocent child in Africa. Franck’s work mainly centers on an issue in the world that she wants people to take notice of and try to do something to fix.

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Car Cemetery in Ireland

This is a picture of a car cemetery where three boys often play. This picture is very similar to Franck’s focus on the human outcasts of society. She likes to glorify those people who live in poor conditions. In this case, she took a spin from her message and glorified an automobile deprived of beauty and good mechanics. Franck uses this picture in a sort of comedic manner because cars do not have feelings. She treats the car as if it was an exiled human. The setting is so sad and gloomy, but Franck brings the cars to life even though they all seem dead. Also, this picture was taken in Ireland where Franck has done much of her work. She likes to focus on areas in the world that have social class issues. Ireland is very poor and desolate, but she brings out the good in the situation. Her pictures try to reveal the hidden beauty that these cars have. Similar to her work with the International Federation of Little Brothers, Franck glorifies the elderly cars that have been outcast by the community. These cars had a long life and many memories that is Franck is trying to divulge to the public. She wants people to look at the vehicles and see their rich history and not the physical appearance.

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Horse in a Field in England

This picture is of a horse laying in a field in England. This picture is meant to show the reader the negative side of Industrialization. This beautiful field, full of flowers and wildlife, has been visually destroyed by the increase in factories and other industries. Humans have taken the environment for granted and instead increase the production of houses and offices. The view is tainted because the skyline no longer shows a peaceful sunset, but instead casts shadows of the factories on the pasture. The picture was strategically taken in black and white, and during a gloomy, cloudy day. It does not allow the viewer to see the greens, blues, yellows and other bright colors. Instead, the viewer’s emotions are torn. It is meant to make the viewer upset for the horse and concerned for the future of the planet. Industry is taking over wildlife’s natural habitat as well as polluting the atmosphere. Franck is a strong advocate for saving the environment. She wants to stop pollution, save the wildlife, and keep the planet beautiful. Her work is meant to influence people all over the world to fight pollution and keep the planet from environmental destruction. This picture has received much attention during these times of environmental protection.

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Why Martine Franck is Influential

Martine Franck is a very influential photographer and her work is very important. She has been working with photography for many years that she has influenced many people as well as other photographers. Martine Franck said "A photograph isn't necessarily a lie, but nor is it the truth. It's more of a fleeting, subjective impression. What I most like about photography is the moment that you can't anticipate: you have to be constantly watching for it, ready to welcome the unexpected." (MagnumPhotos). This is a very interesting quote because unlike may other photographers, she doesn't just take pictures of anything, she waits for the perfect moment. She has  photographed certain communities, for example, the elderly and the Tibetan children, and has captured them in their natural environments. Her work really captures the "realness" in people. She took photos of people in their everyday lives. Through her work, she captures the emotion and lives of her subjects. From looking at her photographs, the audience can connect and feel the subjects emotions and feelings. Her work is also very important in politics. She has photographed areas of the world that have social class issues and brought attention to these issues through her photographs. She has worked with many outcasts of society and photographed them to let everyone know they are just like everyone else. She has increased awareness of these outcasts and have helped them in many ways. Her work is another way of communicating with many different types of audiences. Her work has been published all over the world and she has received many prestigious awards. She still continues to impact and influence many people with her amazing photography.

Video: Interview

From her geometric studies to expressive landscapes and vibrant portraits, photographer Martine Franck uses black-and-white photography as "a release from the distraction of color."