Behind Closed Doors by Erich Salomon, 1932

Dr. Erich Salomon was the father of candid photography–in fact, the phrase was coined for him by the London Graphic. Salomon first come famous for photographs in the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung often called ‘candid camera’ exercises and was commissioned regularly by Eleanor Treacy for Fortune magazine to shed a light into the corridors of power.

Ten-time Prime Minister of France Aristide Briand, a close friend, held him in high esteem. The prime minister reportedly exclaimed at an important conference, “Where is Dr. Salomon? We can’t start…. What’s a meeting that isn’t photographed by Salomon? People won’t believe it’s important at all!” In above picture, taken in the French foreign ministry, Quai d’Orsay, in August 1931, Briand was pointing Salomon out: “Voila le roi des indiscrets” (“There he is, the king of the indiscreet”) as the photographer captured the moment.

From left to right, Paul Reynaud, Ministre de l’Outremer (Minister of the Colonies); Aristide Briand, then serving as Foreign Minister; Auguste Champetier de Ribes, Ministre des Pensions (Minister for Pension Funds); Edouard Herriot, Briand’s predecessor as Foreign Minister; Léon Bérard, Deputy Head of Government and Ministre de la Justice (Minister for Justice).

One of his most famous photoessays appeared in Fortune magazine in September 1932 (below). It was a look into the Lausanne Conference, which took place in June and July of that year. It was a fraught conference which agreed to reduce the German war reparations by 90 percent, but in the end, pleased no one. The United States refused to accept loan forgiveness and the German far right politicians, including the Nazis, were unhappy with certain concessions made.


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