Being in such a beautiful city has it’s perks, don’t get me wrong, but too often when visiting these places full of historic landmarks we forget to bring our eyes back to ground level and look at the happenings around us. Being in a new place is not just about seeing new sights, but about embracing and observing the differences occurring around you. I had recent trip to Paris courtesy of Lacoste and, instead of putting my focus on the popular landmarks, I people watched. Read on.
What’s fascinating is that what may seem ordinary to us back home, feels completely different elsewhere in the world. Things in a new environment fascinate us. We are captivated by the sheer fact that it’s in a different place than we are used to. We pay more attention to our surroundings and appreciate things in a whole new light. Does it not make you think about why we think like this? That while people in another country are as different to us as your next door neighbour back home, the way we observe others in a new environment becomes a whole new experience. Paris was one of those experiences for me. With what little time I had to explore, I opened my eyes and watched the people in Paris.
After arriving at Gare du Nord and checking in at the hotel, I had some time to explore the area that evening before I headed to the Lacoste party. My previous (and first) trip to Paris was only for the day last year, so I didn’t get an opportunity to experience Paris after the sun had gone down. Busy main roads contrasted by deserted back streets, the 11th arrondissement of Paris is a real mixed bag. I wondered around for a good 30mins before heading back and enjoying a fantastic night with Lacoste.
The next day was when I was able to get out on the streets some more and use that Paris daylight to capture moments around me. Taking photos of people is one of the most satisfying feelings. They say your eyes are the best lens, which I would 100% agree with. But the way you see people through a camera lens is so different to through your eyes. Body language becomes more meaningful and, dare I say, almost artistic.
It’s that difference which makes street photography that bit more interesting. By that, I am referring to the style in which the subject isn’t entirely aware that the photo is being taken, doesn’t know why and doesn’t know the person behind the lens. That sounds creepy. But the results can be fantastic. Having the guts to aim that lens at someone without them knowing can be a challenge. It’s when I see something that looks interesting in the frame of my eyes that I say “challenge accepted” and raise my camera to my eye.
Paris gave me countless opportunities to do this, it was just a shame I was so limited to time to take all the photos I wanted. There are some weird and wonderful characters in the French capital. From the streets to the metro. Talking to the locals wasn’t possible for a number of reasons, so the stories behind the people I saw remain unknown. But I wonder, do they always need to be known?
République was a very lively area. The newly developed pedestrianised space by the monument is similar to that of Trafalgar Square. But instead of just tourists wondering around aimlessly, it is also home to the teenage skaters, elegant Paris residents and the not so fortunate drunk/homeless residents of the French capital. While Paris is beautiful for the quaint backstreets, the openness of the République area is different and beautiful in its own way. It’s a place to soak it all up. The life, the people, the city.
The rushed nature of my trip meant I didn’t get to see much of Paris, nor did I see many of the popular tourist spots. But if anything, this was a blessing in disguise. I found myself noticing the people around me more. This gave me an opportunity to experiment with street photography more than I would have if I was on a holiday trip. It was a really different and enjoyable experience, and something I look to repeat the more places I get to visit around the world. Could this be the start of a new challenge for me – to capture the people of the world’s most famous cities? Hmm…
Big thanks to Lacoste for the invite out to Paris, and thank you to the wonderful people of Paris for being so interesting to observe through my lens.