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Snapshot, 1961: Mademoiselle Nana’s secret

An elegant young lady on a street corner in Paris in the early 1960s, peeping mysteriously into the camera from between her gloved fingers. But she has a secret…

In 1961, Swedish photographer Christer Strömholm captured this image in Paris's Place Blanche with his Leica camera. What the viewer (and probably also the man in the background, watching with such evident curiosity) doesn’t realise is that Nana, the young lady with the swept-up hair, is no young lady… but a young man. Strömholm made quite a stir with his pictures of Paris in the 1950s and 1960s, and he is now considered a pioneer of street photography. Strömholm’s Portrait of Nana, along with many other images, can be seen in the exhibition ‘100 Years of Leica Photography’ at the Hamburg Deichtorhallen from 24 October 2014 to 11 January 2015.

Photo © Christer Strömholm/Strömholm Estate, 2014.