There is kind of a crease in the day in Paris. Things stop, or at least slow down. As though the city is taking a break before it all starts again. Everyone is shedding the day and getting ready for evening, except of course for those who will be bringing us our evening. The hour is between 6 and 7. It is already getting dark and the streets are oddly deserted. There are three, no maybe four kinds of people about if you count me with my camera watching the other three. There are the last minute customers in beauty parlors and nail painting shops and of course the people who work in those shops. The third kind you see here. The people who will be making it possible for us to eat those wonderful meals. I never thought much about them until I read George Orwell's “Down and Out in Paris and London.” His descriptions of the inner workings of a restaurant, describing the amount of work and pressure these two people taking a last smoke break will experience over the the next 5 to 7 hours gave me a new outlook and a new respect for them. They are going to have to work as a team, each pulling his weight to get through the evening. The kitchen is small, the tables close together, many of the customers can't read French or English and it is their job to provide not just a good meal but a good experience as well. Because I eat dinner early I see them often, sitting together at a table grabbing a quick meal before the doors open, or, as these two, just relaxing for a minute with a cigarette and a little banter. Their Paris is probably vastly different than mine.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Paris is a great distorter of time. On a sunny day she is definitely 21st century with traffic and commerce, tourists, modern buildings, and chrome cafés. But in the quiet fog of an early gray morning she loses any definite sense of place in the river of time. Something in this constantly changing sense of exactly when you are here in Paris is a great part of her charm. If you let it, it can help you escape from who you are and open the possibility to be, for a moment anyway, a new person, a possible person, unfettered by the conventions that have so far defined you. It's time to dream and you are in the right place for it here in Paris at Place de la Sorbonne. Normally there are several cafés sprawled out on the sidewalk yet today there is just the one, generously giving its contrast to the fog softened Sorbonne dome. Each of you would have, could have a different dream to dream here and I'll tell you mine. It is not now (2011) in my dream. It is in some not too distant past when photography existed but cell phones didn't. I spent last evening trying to capture the night time aura along the Quays and ended up at La Palette with my friends. We drank and talked until the early hours. As the new light began to press against the fog I walked along boulevard St Germain and up boulevard St Michel looking for a quiet place to sit alone for a minute with coffee and a croissant. It is Sunday morning and I am not finding an open café. Then I see this inviting tent and head towards it. It is only the car parked there that pulls me back to today.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
There is no such thing as an innocent eye. What we see depends on who we are, what we have experienced, the system of symbols we use to navigate through our world, which is different from the other worlds of other people. What you see, and more importantly what you feel as you look at this image is unique to you, it will vary depending on your interests and habits. If you know Rodin you will see something familiar in this image, if not, you will probably be a little disoriented at first. What you see will be more abstract, maybe not even human. If you have spent time in Paris you may have walked past this sculpture, you may have noticed it or not. You may have been on a mission and walked past it unseeingly, or, you may have been looking for it as I do, as a touch point, taking comfort from the fact that it is always here, staring out into the world, belligerent, striding, overseeing its domain. Yet, what you are actually looking at is a flat area on your computer screen that is filled in with various tones of gray. What it becomes depends on who you are, on the symbols that you use to create your world. I walk in Paris with my camera through a sea of images created by my experiences and emotions and I record them to share with you, never sure exactly what it is I am sharing, what it is that you see or feel as you look at this abstract thing on your computer screen. Photography is a science and the pictures are just the experiments. If I am doing well, I am capturing the relationships among the objects that constitute my Paris and making them yours.