Willy Ronis (1910 – 2009) was born in Paris. His father ran a photography studio in Montmartre while his mother gave piano lessons. Ronis’ early interest was music and he hoped to become a composer, but these plans were put on hold as he was forced to take over the family portrait business. The business collapsed in 1935 and Ronis went freelance. He had his first picture published in Regards, and in 1937 he did his first work for Plaisir de France. Ronis belonged to Association des Écrivains et Artistes Révolutionnaires, and remained a man of the left.
The work of photographers, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams inspired Ronis to begin exploring photography. Roni joined the photo agency Rapho in 1936, with Brassaï, Robert Doisneau and Ergy Landau. Ronis became the first French photographer to work for Life. In 1953, Edward Steichen included Ronis, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Izis, and Brassaï in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art titled Five French Photographers.
Ronis' wife, Marie-Anne Lansiaux (1910–91), was the subject of his well-known 1949 photograph, Nu provençal (Provençal nude, MS 498). The photograph, showed her washing at a basin with a water pitcher on the floor and an open window through which the viewer can see their garden in Gordes. The photograph was a "huge success". Ronis' nudes and fashion work (for Vogue and Le Jardin des modes) show his appreciation for natural beauty.