Gilbert Duclos is a professional photographer since 1975 working with many publishing houses in Canada, United States and Europe. In 1977, he took the first street picture for the series called «Cités». The image represents two white nuns walking in the streets of Montreal.
" Traveling the streets of the world’s major cities for a quarter of a century, Gilbert Duclos has created a singular universe where the represented figure appears more vivid in the photographer’s vision than in real life. Like Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank before him, Duclos’ street photography constitutes a powerful statement about the importance of artistic expression in the public sphere. Gilbert Duclos authored one of the world’s most important photographs Célèbre inconnue (Famous anonymous) The controversial reception to which brought him international attention in 1998."
From 1954 to 1961, his father was the General Manager of Montreal's Belmont Park. Every Sunday of the summer, Gilbert was taken to the amusement park by his mother so that he could see his father hard at work.
The raucous, joyful and colourful crowd had a strong influence on the future vision of this burgeoning photographer. A few years later, at the age of 15, the Universal Exposition in Montreal added to his visual palette. He spent his entire summer on the islands.
At 18, he decided to put his studies on hold and left for Paris. His time abroad was also punctuated by jaunts to Germany, England, Spain and Morocco.
Taking several jobs to help pay his way, he worked as a vélosolex courier in Paris, an upholsterer for his craftsmen friends and as a mover. He began taking photos in Paris using the Kodak Instamatic that had been given to him by his mother.
In his free time, he explored Paris and perfected the art of loitering on the city’s grand boulevards and terraces. The time he spent in Paris played a key role in his approach to street photography.
Following studies at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal in photography, Gilbert Duclos worked with several magazines both at home and abroad. He has also worked with many cultural, educational and business institutions and has directed several articles and portraits of personalities including Anne Hébert, Denis Villeneuve, Marie Chouinard, Prince, Denys Arcand.
Over the course of his career, Gilbert Duclos has received several awards and distinctions.
La rue, zone interdite [The Forbidden Streets]
This documentary delves into the subject of photography and how the dominant values of our era influenced the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision of April 9, 1988. This ruling (Court File No. 25579) severely limits photographers from documenting public spaces—an activity that has been pursued by the greatest photographers since the beginning of the art form.
Is the street a public or private space? Do photographers still have a right to take photographs? These are the debates pursued by the documentary. Director Gilbert Duclos is concerned about this perversion of our right to free expression and the subsequent withering of our visual heritage. What images will there be of the 2000s if the descendants of Cartier-Bresson no longer dare to practice their craft for fear of litigation?
The documentary was filmed in 2004 in Canada, the United States and France and features photographers William Klein, Marc Riboud, Elliott Erwitt, Janine Niepce who give their opinions on the subject. Also featured in the debate are lawyers, editors and journalists who share their concern regarding this cultural shift in attitude.
In 2004, Monique Simard of Productions Virage approached him as a photographer to direct a documentary on the rights of images and artistic freedoms. He wrote the screenplay, prepared the shooting schedule and interviews and edited it himself. This project allowed him to familiarize himself with documentary work.
Gilbert Duclos received the 2005 FIFA (Festival International des Films sur l’Art de Montréal) Best Documentary Award.