Gilles Peress

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Gilles Peress (born 1946) is a French photojournalist known for his documentation of war and strife, including in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Iran, and Rwanda. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Du magazine, Life, Stern, Geo, Paris-Match, Parkett, Aperture and The New Yorker. He joined Magnum Photos in 1971 and served three times as its vice president and twice as its president.


Born in France, Peress grew up in Paris with an orthodox Christian mother from the Middle East and a Jewish grandfather from Georgia. Peress studied at the Institute d'Etudes Politiques in Paris from 1966 to 1968 and then at the University of Vincennes until 1971. Peress began working as a photographer in 1970, embarking on an intimate portrayal of life in a French village, Decazeville, as it emerged from the ashes of a debilitating labor dispute. In 1973 he photographed Turkish immigrant workers in West Germany and documented the European policy to import cheap labor from the third world. "Peress has worked as a journalist to help finance those projects that constitute his personal search—a search to understand his own history."[1] He then joined Magnum Photos.

Peress soon traveled to Northern Ireland to begin an ongoing 20-year project about the Irish civil rights struggle. One of his most famous pictures from this period captures a young man named Patrick Doherty moments before he was killed whilst crawling to safety in the forecourt of the Rossville flats during Bloody Sunday.

Power in the Blood, a book that synthesizes his years of work in Northern Ireland, is the first part of his ongoing project called Hate Thy Brother, a cycle of documentary stories that describe intolerance and the re-emergence of nationalism in the postwar years. Farewell to Bosnia was the first part of this cycle, and The Silence, a book about the genocide in Rwanda, was the second.

In 1979 Peress traveled to Iran in the midst of the Revolution. His highly regarded book, Telex Iran: In the Name of Revolution, is about the fragile relationship between American and Iranian cultures during the hostage crisis. Peress has also completed other major projects, including a photographic study of the lives of Turkish immigrant workers in Germany, and a recent examination of the contemporary legacy of the Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar.

Peress participated in the photography collective This Place, organized by photographer Frédéric Brenner. For his project, Peress focused on the village of Silwan, where there are frequent violent clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, and used large format cameras to document his experience.[2]

Now, Peress is professor of Human Rights and Photography at Bard College in New York and is Senior Research Fellow at UC Berkeley. He lives with his wife Alison Cornyn and their three children in Brooklyn.





  • 1992, A Peruvian Equation (part of the series “The Magnum Eye”, made for TV Tokyo)
  • 1992, Street Musicians (filmed in NY for M. & Co. Agency, for Benetton)
  • 1994, Farewell to Bosnia (video essay)





  1. ^ Kismaric, Carole. [1] "Gilles Perress" BOMB Magazine Spring 1997, Retrieved 12 June 2012
  2. ^ Hodges, Michael. "Snapshots of Israel". The Financial Times. The Financial Times. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Magnum Photos biography