A Little Trip to Paris

by jonnywhitlam

I was lucky enough to go to Paris over the weekend. I’ve visited before, but I’ve not been for a few years and I’ve certainly never been after developing an interested in photography. I have to say, I am completely taken with the city. It is beautiful. Photographing this city is effortless, every street looks fantastic, people are so diverse and of course I was on holiday, so I had all day to do all that I wanted.

I’ve come home with close to 50 images to put on this site, making this my longest post since 49 Ways to See Berlin. I have to say this post is much more varied in its approach. This site of course focuses on Berlin, so there might be one or two images from my trip to Paris in the future, but what I’ve tried to do is put as many as possible into this post. They’ve been divided into a few different themes.

If you’ve not been so lucky as yet do make sure you visit Paris (and bring a lot of money).

Children

Children have no inhibitions, making them utterly perfect to photograph. They are expressive, unpredictable and quite often plain funny. I mostly stuck to very touristy areas of Paris and as such saw a lot of families on holiday, and therefore a lot of excited and exhausted kids. There’s children in this series at art galleries, having their photo taken and, my favourite, looking a bit put out on the Metro.

Adults

(aka ‘Grown Ups’) We all know Paris’ reputation; the rich and the famous making their stays here, the stylish (snobby) Parisians and their somewhat low opinion of the millions of tourists they encounter. I set out to capture this side of the city, and had a bit of luck with a chance ‘celebrity sighting’ of Pete Doherty.

What I wasn’t expecting to see on this journey was Paris’  other side; the city clearly has a large problem with homelessness. I’m certain Berlin has its fair share of homeless people, too, but I was struck by how many more visibly homeless people I came across in Paris. It’s something that is sadly very easy to put out of one’s mind an was therefore something that hit me quite hard on this visit.

The Leaves

It wouldn’t be Autumn without a look at the scenery, eh? I’ve never tried to capture the feel of Autumn in Monochrome before. I have chosen to present these pictures in B&W for a few reasons. Firstly this entire set is in black and white and I wanted to keep to a theme, secondly the greyness of November has really kicked in and Autumn is on its way out fast, this means that I didn’t really see it in full swing so most of the reds had gone and a lot of what was left was a kind of dull yellow. As such I’ve stuck to my favourite; high contrast black and white, and I was quite surprised at how effective it was – I wouldn’t be showing it to you if I didn’t like it, I suppose.

The Metro

Paris has one of the most expansive and dense public transport systems in the world. It is both massively confusing and massively efficient, a network of tunnels that seems to need an orientation course just to begin to understand where you’re going and what you’re doing. Despite trains arriving every 3 minutes or so they are always packed, Berlin feels like an absolute luxury by comparison.

Protest

Working at the Brandenburg Gate means I see protests of all shapes and sizes all the time. As a result it is incredibly easy to become quite blasé about the whole thing. However when entering Opéra station I was witness to a huge pro-Palestine demonstration, evidently a response to the currently worsening situation in the region right now.

Photography

Along with London, Paris is one of the birthplaces of photography. In 1838/1839 on a corner along Boulevard du Temple the first ever humans were captured in a photograph. These early exposures took hours, as a result anyone walking down a street would simply disappear, making streets throughout the world look empty. One man shining another’s shoes were able to stand still long enough were unintentionally captured in a photograph by Louis-Jacques-Mandré Daguerre.

On top of that I have fallen in love with Street Photography this year. Paris is not simply the birthplace of photography or even the concept of capturing people in these photos, it is the birthplace of two of the most important and distinctive Street Photographers; Henri Cartier-Bresson (whose book “Europeans” I was able to pick up in the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume) and Elliott Erwitt. I visited Erwitt’s ‘Personal Best’ exhibition at the Elephant Paname. I was a little disappointed to find out that the man himself had been to visit the exhibition only the day before. He’s 84 years old, I feel my chance for a chance encounter with this man is a little low, especially as he lives in New York.

Being the birthplace in so many ways for things so important to me I thought I’d try and show the spirit of photography today; it’s everywhere! Nearly everybody I know now has a camera on them all of the time, the price of point and shoots as well as DSLRs are tumbling so tourists and travellers will more than likely always have a decent camera about their person, and of course the rise of smart phones and their ever-improving lenses, sensors, editing features and processors have completely democratised photography, to the point where it’s barely even considered anymore – of course someone will be taking photos! There’s 5 shots on this post taken with my phone, for example.

Paris, I’ll be back.

Here’s some favourites from the weekend:

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