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Portrait of a Place: Paris
First things first: Please invite me to Paris. I visited for the first time recently after years of dreaming about it. The city streets, with their striped awnings and cobblestone roads and strung lights, were an aesthetic treat. The museums were undoubtedly some of the very best in the world. And the food was wonderful.
But what really struck me was that I felt, for the first time, that I was in a place where people understood photography. Normal people, most people. In a fundamental, mainstream, genuine way. I perused some very special art book stores, noticed high quality galleries all around town, and even found black and white photo postcards for sale on most corners. Many of my photographer friends here in the US have told me since that they sell most of their work to Parisians. I’m not surprised.
I think that deep cultural knowledge of photography, and the creative liberty that comes with it, had an impact on the submissions to this theme. Most of the photographers featured below were visitors, not residents, of Paris, but I believe they might just have been swept up in the visual momentum of being there.
The photo tour below won’t take you into the bustle and light and energy of Paris, but it’s not a bad second best — until the next visit.
Published April 18, 2012
Guest Design Jessica Hische
Intro Laura Brunow Miner
Fire on the Avenue de La Bourdonnais ∞
While waiting for the sun to set, my girlfriend and I noticed some smoke rising up from one of the streets near the Eiffel Tower. The smoke got much thicker and we began to hear a lot of sirens. It was starting to look fairly serious and a little worrisome that the fire was going to be a huge problem. Luckily, the fire crews were able to quickly knock it down and not let it spread. With so many beautiful, old buildings so close together, I can only imagine how bad it could have been.
Photographer: Roger McLeish
I’m a Canadian graphic designer and photographer who is now living in Freiburg, Germany.
View from Sacre Coeur ∞
I photographed this street performer during the Fete de la Musique last summer in Montmartre. Doing juggling tricks with his soccer ball on the ground was obviously not challenging enough — before I knew it, he climbed up a lamp post to continue his act.
Photographer: David Bacher
David Bacher is an American professional photographer based in Paris, France.
View from the Top ∞
After a wonderful day on the Paris streets, my son and I took the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Photographer: Frederick Lofdahl
I’m an IT professional living in Sweden. I spend a lot of time in nature with camera in hand.
Life Appreciates Art ∞
A girl contemplates the great master’s work in the Musée de l’Orangerie.
Photographer: Zheng Chi
A teacher living in Brussels.
Rue Berthe, Montmartre ∞
Jetlag kept me up all night and sleeping in every day during a short visit to Paris. I suspect that’s one of the better ways to see the city though, when the color and light stand out against the shadows of winding streets.
Photographer: Janelle Fernandez
Janelle is a photographer currently living in Washington, DC. She is on a quest for the perfect cup of coffee.
Take a break from sightseeing. Ignore the hotspots. Just walk across the small streets that make up Paris. It’s the only way to notice the details of the buildings and roads, the smell of the air, and the lifestyle of native Parisiens. What better way to explore a place?
Photographer: Dan Lai
Amateur Photographer in Hong Kong.
Stranger in a Familiar Land ∞
I am Parisian. However, six years ago I moved to Africa. Every year I come back to Paris, home for one month. I am now a tourist in my hometown. I have never appreciated Paris as much as now. This photo taken near the Marais and Quartier St-Paul is symbolic of Paris Life.
Photographer: Karine Ardault
Karine Ardault, born in France and now living in Tanzania, is a humanitarian law specialist and a part-time photographer aspiring at becoming a full-time one. She enjoys all kind of different photography techniques, formats, and cameras. She is shooting more and more and loves this life!
The Louvre is an interesting museum, but it’s even more intriguing from the exterior. Old world elegance meets starkly modern design. Cold and warm at the same time. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful Paris is, and how contradictory it is.
Photographer: Julie Qiu
Julie Qiu is a freelance food and event photographer based in New York City. She is also an oyster enthusiast, having tasted over 100+ varieties of oysters from five different continents.
Looking In ∞
I took a break from wandering the Louvre on my trip to Paris and when I looked up, I realized I was underneath one of the smaller pyramids — and these friendly faces.
Photographer: Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes is a freelance photographer from Austin, Texas by way of the Savannah College of Art and Design.
We rented bicycles and were cycling around Paris when we came across this billboard. Our daughter had lots of questions. Why were the ladies wearing black scarves over their faces? Why were they drinking funny colored fizzy drinks? Why the sunglasses?
We answered that in the Muslim tradition some women like to cover their faces in public but that perhaps the billboard suggested that they could still have fun with it. She is now in fifth grade, studying the cultures of the world, and we think it’s great that she has had so much exposure to diversity already.
Photographer: Marina Velez Vago
I am an artist based in Cambridge, UK. I use photography as a medium. I am currently taking a Masters in Fine Arts at Cambridge School of Arts, Anglia Ruskin University.
Night Dreaming ∞
I have always loved Paris at night, with its electric yet contemplative kind of beauty. Outside, on the plaza surrounding the Pompidou Center, diverse crowds gather throughout the day. But it’s during the evenings when I’ve spied some of the most intriguing faces, like this young man.
Photographer: Kimberly Wang
I’m a director and producer of documentaries and television series by profession, but shooting stills has long been a passion of mine. Making new friends and exploring fresh territory with camera in hand and my dog at my side is really my version of heaven.
Je Ne Sais Quoi ∞
Everyone comes to Paris to feel Paris. I spotted this man sitting in the courtyard at the old Musée de Cluny. I love that you can tell this is a photo of Paris, in the small details, even though it’s not a shot of a famous monument.
Photographer: Charity Sperringer
I am a social research analyst in Washington D.C. I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind than as one of the species. -Joseph Addison
Fellow Patrons ∞
Exhausted from touring and in dire need of a drink, my friends and I sat down at a local pub close to where we were staying. We felt very out of place that day, being strangers and all. Only one of us spoke French, the rest of us getting by with crude hand gestures and botched phrases from a book. After a few drinks and lively conversation, the frustration slipped away and I was entranced by the people sitting across from us. They were just like us; young, passionate, filled with drive and energy. Suddenly I didn’t feel out of place at all.
Photographer: Antonio De Lucci
Photographer from San Francisco.
Table for One ∞
In the spring of 2010, I moved to Paris to improve my French and get to know a city I’d always wanted to be a part of. During my first few weeks there, I remember thinking to myself that while so many of us want to fall immediately in love with Paris, it’s Paris that decides when she wants to love us back. The woman in this photograph embodies that: beautiful, but impenetrable. Over the next few months, Paris slowly let me into her world and it was magical. It wasn’t perfect — but it was and always will be completely fascinating.
Photographer: Lisa Weatherbee
I’m a NYC-based photographer with a particular interest in editorial/documentary work. I’ve always been fascinated with memory and time, with how we experience things versus how we remember them.