Monday, March 12, 2012

Les Femmes Sont Très Jolies

“Is this woman ever going to move? She’s got to see me here – I’ve been kneeling like this for like five minutes with my camera. How does she not see me? Is she just being rude? That’s gotta be it – she’s Parisian, I’m a tourist, gotta be that. Seriously lady, just move already.”

Finally, I could take it no more.

Pardon madame” I said as I nodded to my camera. She looked genuinely surprised and her eyes got just a little wider when she saw my camera and realized she’d been blocking my shot. “Desole monsieur” she said as she quickly sidestepped out of the fame. I ripped off a couple of HDR brackets, chimped, stood up and with a smile: “Merci beaucoup madame”. “Je vous en pris monsuier” with a smile of her own. I walked away.

So that was how my encounter with une femme d’un age certain ended in Paris, but it’s not how it began.

While in Paris, I knew that I’d be shooting all the famous landmarks. I didn’t know that if I’d be able to make any original images of them going in (though in retrospect, I think I did) but you have to shoot those things, so why not? But I didn’t want to stop there – I wanted to find a way to create something unusual, something less photographed and ideally, something that spoke to Parisian history. And all this without ever having set foot in the city.

Online research led me to discover the passages however – old, indoor arcades or markets, preserved and updated. Some of the photos I saw showed off wrought iron and glass so I figured that might be a good place to start. With even more luck, my maps actually had the passages indicated on them and a couple of them lined up well with one of my planned walking routes.

My initial impressions were not favorable. It was easy to see how these places would have been magnificent in decades past but years of modernization had left them as bland and soulless – albeit nice – as any other indoor mall. I honestly didn’t feel that different in them as I did in the Crystal City mall in DC to be honest. Or, at least that was case until I got to the Hotel Chopin. As soon as I saw it – more properly, the excellent period advertisements you see on the left side of the frame – I knew I’d found what I was looking for. I didn’t want to break out a tripod here, but with a fast lens and a low angle I thought I’d be able to make a good image. Fortunately, pedestrian traffic was light – I didn’t even want blurred people in my shot. It wasn’t non-existent though, and I was crouched for a while waiting for a gap in the traffic to open up. Fortunately, it was a long one since there was just this one Parisian dame who just wouldn’t get out of the way…

Paris Sera Toujours Paris 018

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