Posted By Lester V Ledesma
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.

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