Moments of the Eye — Paris
Acis and Galatea Acis and Galatea, Marie de Medici Fountain, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris. In this sculpture from the 1866 by Auguste Ottin, these two figures from Greek mythology are in quiet, romantic repose. The day I made the image the fountain, overgrown by trees with a mostly overcast sky above, had an almost nocturnal mood. The light was gloomy and unphotogenic. Momentarily a beam of soft light penetrated the trees and Acis and Galatea magically glowed amid their dark surroundings. A quick lens change, the shutter click and in less time than it takes to read this sentence the light changed again and the glowing romantic mood was gone.
Angels and Saints Saints and Angels, Notre Dame, Paris. The west face of Notre Dame is a fantasy of sculptures of the great persons of Christian and Church history. Contemplating the impact this façade has today, I can appreciate the emotions it inspired in eras uncluttered by the visual noise of modern media. As I exited Notre Dame, surrounded by the usual crush of crowds, I glimpsed the people in the niche below the statues. I raised the camera, focused, the crowds parted for barely longer than the shutter press and then I was swept away by the flow of people. That is Emperor Constantine above and to the left. St. Denis, having lost his head, needs a little help from the two angels to ascend to heaven. Sometimes I label the image Angels and Saints. It works by either name.
C'est ne pas urgent C'est ne pas Urgent. I love the irony of this image. It is as if the city, Paris itself, is sending a message telling us to relax, enjoy the whimsy of the scene and to ignore M. Miguet’s appeals to urgency.
Eiffel Tower Eiffel Tower, Spring. I avoid the usual tourist places. Postcards happen there rather than fine art images. But who, when in Paris, can avoid the Eiffel Tower? It was March, the trees were just beginning to leaf, and the love of my life was at my side. The patterns of trees, the tower, and the slight mistiness all converged to create a favorite image.

The image looks “easy” yet printing it well with the right balance of tone between the sky and tower is challenging. It took two days in the darkroom and three different kinds of paper before I learned, as Ansel Adams might say, “To perform the image well”. Now that I know how to make the silver print, the digital prints are a little easier, though I’m seldom able to get to a “signing print”, one that truly sings, on the first try.
Kiss by the Seine Kiss by the Seine. The boots and bags suggest this is a kiss of joy at reaching the Seine, the heart of Paris, after a long journey. Or is it a kiss to seal a life promise just made? Sometimes it is easy to read too much into an image or to paraphrase Freud, “Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss.”

From the film Casablanca
Sam: [singing]You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.
And when two lovers woo
They still say, 'I love you'
Lyrics and Music by Herman Hupfeld (1931)

Kiss, Jardin Notre Dame Kiss. Jardin Notre Dame. I adore the relaxed quality of this image and the ageless quality. Is this 1930, 1960, 1990, right now? The cloths give some clues, but really who’s to know?
La Marseillaise La Marseillaise, Arc de Triomph. My daughter Brette looked at this image and said, “She’s too scary!” Personally I love the how the energy and stridency of the image captures the wild spirit of the French Revolution and the energy of the national anthem of the same name. This image is of the plaster maquette for La Marseillaise as she appears on the face of the Arc de Triomphe. To see the maquette it is necessary to climb to the quaint museum (recently modernized I hear) at the top of the Arc.
Ghost on the Train Ghost on the Train. Late at night we were coming back to the Hotel du Pantheon from the Eiffel Tower. Tired, in the near deserted subway I was thinking of all the millions of people who have left their trace in space-time in the trains and tunnels and imagined generations of ghosts swirling in the space around me. The lonely men on the bench and the reflection of the young lady created the image that exactly captured the mood.
Le Jardin de The Le Jardin de Thé. This restaurant faces the plaza surrounding the Centre Pompidou. Diners admire the artists painting or performing in the plaza and, in this case, become subjects of the art. The intensity of the conversation is intriguing, but look at the two figures, one at the extreme left of the image and the other extreme right.
Mime, Dark Woods Mime, Dark Woods. As a professional communicator this image reminds me how hard it sometimes is to get a message across. The mime was on a lonely stretch of walkway, obviously trying to say something with a sign that, to me, is incomprehensible. Is the mime asking something, protesting something? The reference is to a context I haven’t been able to translate, yet the lonely figure in the rumpled costume, stiff against the dark woods speaks volumes.
Mime, Musee d'Orsay Mime, Museé d’Orsay. Celeste and I were sitting in an outdoor café by the Museé d’Orsay when a young lady rushed up right in front of us, flipped around the mirror on a motorbike, and powdered her face white with amazing speed. Moments later she was posed dead still, all in white, on the Museé d’Orsay plaza. A fine string quartet played not far away. I made the image, contributed some coins and was rewarded with the barest trace of a nod.

This image is a personal favorite. In the right light, viewed at the right distance, the mime seems three dimensional, floating in front of the dark wall.
Obelisk and Trees Obelisk and Trees. The pattern of sculpted tree branches, the obelisk, the dome, the sweep of the foreground, I love this image for its eclectic combination of graphic, modern and classic visual elements. The moment I visualized the dark graphic forms I was literally stopped in my tracks by the visual force of the scene. Of course the actual scene didn’t appear anything like the photograph. I chose a short telephoto lens to compress the graphic space and depressed the exposure to reduce the image to the planar graphic forms.
Shakespeare and Company Shakespeare and Company. Shakespeare and Company is the famous English language bookstore and intellectual gathering place in Paris’ Left Bank. From its founding in 1919 until WWII, Shakespeare and Company was frequented by "Lost Generation" writers including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. It is frequently mentioned in Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”. Reestablished in 1951, Shakespeare and Company continues to influence Parisian and English language culture.

As I wandered up rue de la Bûcherie to Shakespeare and Company, the mood of the old streets made it very easy to imagine being in Paris in the 1920s, among the extraordinary literary milieu of that era. I sought an image that captured this feeling.

The night-time lighting inside the store and on the street was meager and harsh. The images I visualized were ordinary. Then as I stepped outside and looked back in through the window, the clerk picked up his violin and started to play. The music, the image of Hemingway, the books everywhere and the old chandelier pulled the mood back in time to the 1920s. I clicked the shutter. Someone approached the counter, the violin was set aside; in an instant the mood was swept away, but for one very special moment I was back in another era. As you enjoy this image I hope it takes your mood to another time and another place, as it does mine.
The Glance The Glance. I liked the buildings, the motorcycle and the sheen on the cars of this otherwise ordinary Paris street scene. I put the camera to my eye to wait for the nearby car to move to the right spot and, “Click”, the image formed just as the pedestrian intruded in the corner. Only on the proof sheet did I see the glance that makes the image extraordinary. Good luck? A happy accident? Chance favoring the prepared? Such random occurrences and unanswerable questions are part of the art of the photograph.
The Night Kiss The Night Kiss. I love the “film noir” look of this image, with the couple tentative, yet drawn to each other, stealing a private moment amid the glaring lights and activity of the rive gauche restaurant.
Tutenkamen Mime Tutankhamen Mime. Some of the most delightful art in Paris happens right outside the great museums. This mime was cleverly done up in gold lame, just outside the Louvre. Confused tourists swirled around in the stifling summer heat. I waited for an image to appear. Then this girl, fascinated by the mime, looked at her mother for permission, pulled away and dropped a couple of coins in the tin. She looked up just in time to be delighted by the slight bow that rewarded her gift.

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