If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast. – Hemingway
I studied Arts Plastiques (Visual Arts) at Univeristé Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne from 2006 to 2009. These images were photographed during that period and reprinted this year. I was revamping my website and found quite many photos to add into the Paris album. As a photographer and fine art printer, I don’t consider my work finished until a photo is in printed form. Therefore I had all the additional photos printed and reprinted the ones originally in the series, all on my favorite paper – Museo Silver Rag. A comparison between the old prints of 2009 and the new ones clearly shows some progression in my digital printing technique, for which I am very happy. Five years also saw the progress of digital technology: newer RAW interpolating software reads files with smarter algorithms; newer editing software implements more sophisticated maths into resizing, sharpening and noise reduction. All these prepared my bon-à-tiré files of 2014 with better resolution and cleaner surface, before I feed them into printer. While at the output end, the combination of the paper and my studio’s state-of-the-art printer provided me with a much wider gamut than five years ago. For example, to photos with vibrant colors like the one of the underground parking entrance, back in Paris I had never thought possible to print them onto any paper of which the reflective surface was seemingly emitting light. An illusion I can achieve nowadays.
Looking at the way I photographed Paris, if most of the subjects seem to be caught by chance, I do remember having set up one guideline to myself – not to photograph anything that postcards would usually show to people. For example, I had never thought about shooting at Ventôme Square until the night when some stratus cloud was floating barely above Napoléon and the spotlight had the statue cast a shadow into the sky. Also, if there weren’t those nasty rats climbing up the steps of métro station Odéon, I would never have photographed any of those famous Art Nouveau subway entrances. To me, photography and postcards have fundamentally different audiences. A postcard has two functions: if you come to Paris, a postcard promises you to find what is displayed on it; when you bring it back home, it keeps reminding you of what it shows, but, gradually and discreetly, your memory of the travel will be replaced with a generic image that is shared by many. In my photos, I share with you the aforementioned cloud and shadow and nasty rats, but if you are really going to visit Paris, I can’t promise you any chance to witness them yourself, nor can I guarantee you to see water gushing out of any Parisian sewer and running away like a mystic river, or a subway map peeled apart by renovation and revealing its predecessor from a decade ago. After all, those are my experience, and because it’s not generic, it will never replace your experience from the past, of now, or in the future.
If somehow you are able to relate to these photos, I hope you look forward to your own unforeseen moments, and maybe feel the urge to go somewhere to discover things impossible to anticipate yet surely exciting. Isn’t it the way that a journey should be – to show you more than you know or prepare to see?