The Untold Story of One of the Greatest Printers in Photography



Voja Mitrovic and Frederic Brenner in Paris

Voja Mitrovic at the Coupole, Montparnasse, Paris, 1993. Photo by Peter Turnley.

By Peter Turnley

This is the untold story of one of the greatest printers of black-and-white photographs in the history of photography—Voja Mitrovic. It is time that this man, who has literally been in the dark since arriving in Paris from Yugoslavia in 1964, be acknowledged for his important part in the history of photography and his collaborations with many of the great photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Voja’s story is also the story of the world-renowned photographic laboratory Picto, in Paris, created by Pierre Gassmann in 1950.

You’ve seen Voja’s work without knowing it. He was a longtime printer for Henri Cartier-Bresson, from 1967–1997, and  has made prints for the past thirty years for the great Czech photographer Josef Koudelka. While others also printed H.C.-B.’s photographs, what is so important about the period Voja printed much of his work is that it corresponds to the time when collecting signed photographs first began to take off and change the public’s view of photography collecting and its connection to the art world. Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the key photographers whose work was bought and collected during that period. It was during the time when Helen Wright was representing H.C.-B.’s prints in the United States where most of his prints were collected. A large number of the signed prints of H.C.-B. on any wall in the world printed from 1967–1997 were made by Voja—this fact is little known. He also printed at various times for many of the world’s other master photographers: Sebastio Salgado, Werner Bischof, René Burri, Marc Riboud, Robert Doisneau, Edouard Boubat, Man Ray, Atget, Helmut Newton, Raymond Depardon, Bruno Barbey, Jean Gaumy, Frederic Brenner, Max Vadukul, and Peter Lindbergh to name a few. I have had the great fortune that Voja has been my printer for the past twenty years. He printed the exhibition and reproduction prints for my books Parisians, McClellan Street, and In Times of War and Peace, and he has made all of my signed prints for collection.

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