How do you shoot a city with 150 years of photographic history?
Brassai. Atget. Cartier-Bresson. These are massive footsteps to follow if you plan to do serious
photography in Paris.
I found it hard to walk these city streets without thinking of their old, black and white
photographs of the City of Lights. Those were classic images blazing with personality and
nostalgia. Indeed, how do you make pictures with that kind of impact?
Shooting these streets, I realized that much of this was up to the city itself. That thick, Parisian
atmosphere hung heavy in those pictures because Paris was exactly like that - Somewhat
eccentric, very artistic. Bursting with life and character.
I'm glad to say that Paris still has much of its charm. Although nowadays the street photography in
Asia could just a good (read: Hanoi, Vientiane, Bangkok), there's a special silver halide-laced
flavor that this place can call its own.
And while Hanoi, Vientiane and Bangkok are changing every day, Paris has remained essentially
the same for almost a century. Proof of this is in the pictures, of course - you can stand on many
of the same spots where the masters took their photos, and find that the scenes (or at least the
backgrounds) have barely changed.
When I was scanning these B/W negatives, I found that the photos looked good even without
contrast control. In fact, the raw scans resembled classic black and white images taken at the turn
of the century.
However good or bad a photographer you might be, you're bound to capture at least some of that
Paris effect. That's just how this city is.
Photos taken with Voigtlander Bessa R, and Skopar, Industar and Hanimex lenses. Film used was
Agfa APX 100 developed in a Rodinal-based developer.