Born in France and active from the 1930s through the 1950s, Maurice George Chanu worked primarily in Paris. In 1948, he put together a photo album to illustrate the lyrics of the popular French song "La Seine", which won the Grand Prix de la Chanson Francaise in 1948.
Chanu's work echoes several other photographers, including Brassai's Paris Nuit work and Jindrich Styrsky's signage and posters, but he created his own unique view of the world--no matter that it was limited primarily to Paris, as was Atget's before him. Chanu's strong modernist eye captured Paris and its winding river, the Seine, from the sparkling light of dawn to work-a-day activities and finally the romantic evening calm.
Chanu worked with a 4 x 5 camera with Dager lens, often using magnesium flares to light his night shots. He had a distinctive logo stamp for his last name.
Chanu was also known to paint landscapes.
The photographer/artist was also an inventor of optical instruments including a scope and something called an épiscope comparator, which was used by police for reading fingerprints.
Chanu was very active in the photographic salons of France and abroad. He entered prints in 1940s and 1950s salons, including the Societe Lorraine de Photographie & Cinematographie, Nancy; the Photo-Cine-Club of Dieppe (the 1st and 2nd Franco-Canadian exposition); the Exposition d'Art Photographique, Meudon; Amicale-Photo, Roubaix; Salon National d'Art Photographique de Gueret; Photo-Club de Clichy's Salon d'Art Photographique; and Art Photographique by the Centre Photographique de l'Etat Rheno-Palatin. He accepted many first prizes, including that of the 21st Concours International of Photo-Cinema -- Member of the Jury of the Coupe de France.