Jean-Philippe Charbonnier was born on August 28, 1921 to a highly artistic family. His father was a painter, his mother, a writer. Charbonnier first discovered photography in 1939 in the studio of the famous movie portraitist Sam LÈvin. He trained in the studios of White and Demilly, but World War II brought an abrupt halt to his emerging photography career, as he went to spend two years in Switzerland during the war.
At the end of 1944, he came back to France and worked as a typesetter with the Liberation newspaper and France-Sunday. The same year he finished his first feature story in Vienne, France on the public execution of a Nazi traitor and documented the entire story in pictures.
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