Pre-springtime in Paris
2013 has begun and everybody is looking forward. Resolutions, new projects, new beginnings. I am no exception to all of the above, but I find myself also looking back to this time last year with fondness.
While on a trip to the UK in February 2012, instead of my usual indulgence of taking a day or two to wander around London with the primary goal of taking photographs for myself (no clients), I decided to jump the English Channel and go to Paris for 2 days and one night. I didn’t actually jump. I took the Eurostar train, which I boarded at just after 6am on a very cold, dark morning with snow on the ground. After a pleasant journey through the channel tunnel and the countryside of northern France the sun hadn’t long been up and shortly after 8am I was making my way through the rush hour crowds at Paris Nord station. Blue skies, crisp cold air (anywhere from -7 to not much above zero), a camera, two lenses and no particular place to go apart from the hotel I had already booked that night. What a feeling of freedom! even though short lived.
I do this sort of thing every now and then because I read somewhere a long time ago that professional photographers should always have a personal photography project in the pipeline to keep up creativity and remind us why we got into photography in the first place.
No clients around, no shoot list, nobody expecting anything. No pressure, right?
Wrong! I have buckets of self inflicted pressure right from the start. The only benefit is that I have experienced this feeling every time I do this so it doesn’t come as a surprise.
With a huge iconic European City all around me there is so much to choose from and so many different ways I could shoot things. I always want to shoot a different side of the City than what one might expect to see, but I am always, without fail drawn to the famous icons. I shoot them too. It’s like I have to get it out of my system before I can start seeing deeper into scenes and begin shooting things other than the Eiffel Tower or Le Louvre.
Planning what you need on a shoot like this apart from the obvious equipment is essential. you need to dress right for the weather and all that walking. It sounds obvious, but that was another hurdle for me as I usually shoot in warmer or very often tropical environments. Also being as light as possible and able to jump on and off underground trains and to be able to physically fit into small bars to grab a coffee or a bite to eat is important. You can’t do any of the above if you take along loads of equipment. To do this I had to sacrifice lenses and toys, although I did still bring my tripod and a 70-200mm. I think I may leave the long lens behind next time. it was clearly adding too much weight. Now I think about it I really quite enjoy planning a shoot like this. The planning process seems to make the trip a little longer and builds anticipation and excitement.
My self imposed goal on this trip was to experiment more with HDR photography (hence the need for the tripod) and to capture images that would have a Parisian flavor about them. Also as part of the bigger picture I want the images to be able to post on my website like this and hopefully my clients or future clients will see I’m serious and passionate about what I do. It’s not just a job, it’s a way of life.