October 02, 2011

A New Look at Paris

Paris is one of my favorite cities. Now that I've been there a number of times, I'm able to stop photographing just the iconic images and focus more on what makes Paris, Paris. It's the side streets, the neighborhood within a neighborhood that give a city its' flavor... its' local color. I'm also starting to shoot in a more relaxed, less formal way; leaving the tripod behind and "freestyling" it a bit more.

It's so tempting to go to these world class cities and take the same picture we've all seen over and over again. The challenge is to create a photo that reflects your style, attitude, emotions and feeling about where you are, while you're there. Now I've found a way to relieve myself of that "icon" burden so I can really get down to photographing the city in a new light. The first day in Paris (or any other city), I'll go out and shoot the biggies: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the omnipresent "Metro" sign. Don't get me wrong, I still try my best to do it up right... creating an image I can be proud of, making the best photo I can of these and not just trying to tick them off a list. But, now that those photos are shot I'm free to seek out other subject matter. I can now turn my camera and my attention away from the skyline and start looking at the uniqueness of a location. The cobblestone streets, the cornerstone of a building, the keystone of an arch, perhaps the way the light creates texture along a wall. All these things combine to tell a more complete story.

One evening during my last trip to Paris, I found myself down a little side street at dinner time when the restaurants are doing their best to lure patrons inside; the restauranteurs standing out front beckoning to you as you walk by, the open windows letting the aroma of enticing foods overwhelm your senses. As I strolled along it was hard not to walk into every single restaurant and cafe. However my goal wasn't food, it was capturing the moment in a photograph so I could share the experience with others. Turning my eye to the windows and doors, I chose an open air restaurant that would tell the whole story. The placement of the menu's asks you to stop for a moment to check out the offerings. Then the rotisserie delivers the knock out punch where you can almost taste the food before even stepping inside. Congratulations to the Chef... mission accomplished!

I hope the resulting photo succeeded in relaying to you everything I was thinking while I was there.

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