Winnie Denker & the sentinel of Paris

© Winnie Denker

© Winnie Denker

Photographer Winnie Denker knows the Eiffel Tower better than anyone. Writer Françoise Sagan hated this iron structure until seeing Winnie’s photographs. She then wrote the text to the photographer’s first book The Sentinel of Paris which was dedicated to the Tower.

In the centennial year of the Eiffel Tower in 1986, Pierre Bidault, who had just been asked to design special lightning for this ironwork, showed his work to his friend Winnie igniting a new adventure for the photographer and three books about this symbol of Paris. Being on the lookout at daybreak for the first rays of the sun passing through the Tower, sleeping at the very top after obtaining authorization allowing her access everywhere inside, she found unrivalled viewing angles from the engine room to little barred belvederes. It became her obsession and her pictures glorify the architecture of this visible monument of iron which fascinates the whole world. Due to recent safety regulations, these pictures would be impossible today.

Winnie Denker is one of the few photographers in the world to work with the 8×10 format allowing wide angles, extreme accuracy, enlarged prints, all requiring skill, technique and preparation. First specializing in jewellery photography, then fashion, then documentary crossing the USA for Life Magazine. After dedicating a few years to the Eiffel Tower, she was commissioned by UNESCO to photograph some of the World Heritage sites – Istanbul, remote regions of Turkey, the Euphrates Valley, Alep, Damascus and in particular Palmyra in Syria, Egypt, the Great Wall of China etc. Another important mission for this organization was a series about the Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg where numerous prints of her photographs are displayed.

Asking for lighting for the pyramids of Egypt in the middle of the night, standing on the sloping icy rooftop of the Hermitage in temperatures of -40°C, leaning out of an helicopter, climbing up a tall crane swaying in the wind, the photographer is renown as a risk-taker and appreciated for her persuasive kindness that opens doors. She has recently become passionate about Iceland. Born before the WW2 in Denmark and living in France since, Winnie Denker always travels around the world with her massive 8×10 format camera.