In Paris with a Leica: the usual and unusual

No other city in the world has been photographed as much as the city of Paris. Since the early dawn of photography, all the way until today, it has been the subject of scores of art books and prints. Whether in the pictures of Bresson, Doisneau, Atget, or Brassaï, or snapped by today’s myriads of tourists from all over the world that fill the streets of the city – it remains immediately recognizable, and as a photographer you might soon ask yourself: what’s there to photograph in Paris that no one else has before?

Many experienced street photographers will tell you to “shoot, then think”, and to just follow your instinct. Especially if you’re seen photographs of famous folks like Bresson or Atget before, it’s almost impossible to stay “unique” and “different”. Even more so when you are carrying an instrument like a Leica, which makes you hungry for the next Bressonian shot you are hoping to catch.
At that point we should ask ourselves however: does it really matter? Too many photographic opportunities are missed by being unsure, unconvinced of the motive, or too shy or hesitant. It’s hard to “just shoot”, especially when working with film. You don’t want to waste film, after all?

Two weeks ago, I spent a couple of days in Paris, and since I was there with family and friends, I only had little time to fully immerse and isolate myself into the world of photography. Which meant that I had to be more spontaneous, less hesitant, faster while also being less confrontational. Since we also visited many iconic spots of Paris, I took more photos of locations that most people have already seen before. The Eiffel Tower, the glass pyramid of the Louvre, the Notre Dame, the Centre Pompidou, the river sides of the Seine. “Shoot, then think”.

Nevertheless, it was a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. Not only because I got to take photographs with a Leica – Paris and a Leica go together like peanut butter and jelly – but also because film makes even the most familiar subjects look excitingly different. And there is still the one or the other “random” street photograph, which we all hope to shoot and see when roaming the streets of such a city.

The Pont Neuf Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
The Pont Neuf
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Seine Riverside Scene Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Seine Riverside Scene
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
The Eiffel Tower Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
The Eiffel Tower
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
The Glass Pyramid Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
The Glass Pyramid
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
The Lady and the Tower Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
The Lady and the Tower
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Bike on a Corner Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Bike on a Corner
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Seine Riverside Scene Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Seine Riverside Scene
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Seine Riverside Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Seine Riverside
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
The Notre Dame Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
The Notre Dame
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
The Notre Dame Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
The Notre Dame
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Books at the Bouqinistes Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Books at the Bouqinistes
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Woman on a Chair Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Woman on a Chair
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
The Centre Pompidou Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
The Centre Pompidou
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Paris Cityscape, as seen from the Centre Pompidou Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Paris Cityscape, as seen from the Centre Pompidou
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
The Place G. Pompidou Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
The Place G. Pompidou
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
The Place G. Pompidou Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
The Place G. Pompidou
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Posters, at the Centre Pompidou Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Posters, at the Centre Pompidou
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
In the Centre Pompidou Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
In the Centre Pompidou
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
View from the Centre Pompidou Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
View from the Centre Pompidou
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Blue Storefront Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Blue Storefront
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Seine Riverside Scene Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Seine Riverside Scene
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Street Clown Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Street Clown
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Grafitti Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
Grafitti
Leica M6, Ilford HP5 Plus
The Seine after Sunset Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
The Seine after Sunset
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Family on the Stairs at the Louvre Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Family on the Stairs at the Louvre
Leica M6, Kodak Tmax 400
Man with an Umbrella Hat Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Man with an Umbrella Hat
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Shopping Street Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
Shopping Street
Leica M6, Kodak Portra 400
This was the fourth time I have been to Paris and it was, for several reasons (weather, company, camera, maturity) by far my most enjoyable. Three days are certainly not enough to explore or portray the largest city in Europe. Due to an unlucky incident, or divine intervention, maybe, light got onto my film and burnt almost all the images that I took of the Eiffel Tower. I am not mourning those, however. Paris offers an infinite amount of views, scenes and moments that are just waiting to be captured, and these were just a few glimpses I got to catch. Until next time.

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