Observations on Photography sat outside Notre Dame, Paris

A slightly long title but I thought you might enjoy one of my finds in my notebooks. I wrote this last October whilst on a trip to Paris. I spent a few hours alone wandering up and down the river and sat outside the Notre Dame observing strangers (which I do constantly, but I don’t always write it all down). There were some sketches of what people were doing, their behaviours and poses etc but they aren’t really necessary with my already sketchy writing. I’ve been reading through my notebooks as I have a new brief/theme at University to explore and it is Culture, especially in regards to digital and new cultures. I found my writing quite relevant despite being a mixture of rambling and excitement. So here goes…

I’m sat in front of Notre Dame after walking from the Latin Quarter. Someone is doing wedding photographs in front of this massively historic building. I’m not sure what that means; to be photographed in front of it apart from stating ‘I was here’. I feel like Martin Parr, sat there observing the poses people make, the people in the images and the way they photograph. Some are knelt down, some use tripods, some use flash, some photograph people photographing. It’s madness really .

I feel like going around and asking if people want me to photograph them. Just by walking into this area, I must already be in hundreds of people’s family holiday snaps. I wonder if they’ll ever look at the photographs and wonder who I am. The wedding party has gone. Now there’s a film crew doing an interview. I’ve started a game with myself; counting the people that I can see without a visible camera on them. I’m at about 4.

Oh my, someone just used a timer in front of me. They look adorable. Now they move to a different angle of the Notre Dame. Madness I tell you. People seem to have disappeared; the cameras are still out though.

Vivre la Photographie.

Monday 3rd October 2011

After reading through and collecting it all together, one sentence in there sticks out to me and that is; Vivre la Photographie. I cannot quite remember what I meant by that. My french is good at times but I’ll often give it a guess and be wrong, and something about that phrase made me uneasy. I think I was attempting a “Live on Photography” type of line but in fact I said something far more intrinsic to what I was saying.

Vivre la Photographie, essentially means… To live photography. This could be seen as:

  • To live through photography
  • To live with photography
  • To live by photography
  • To live in photography
  • To live using photography

I asked a friend who knew more about the definition I was trying to capture and they came up with a more rounded answer. Vivre la photography means to live through the idea of and by the ideals of photography.

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2 thoughts on “Observations on Photography sat outside Notre Dame, Paris

  1. I love your original thoughts on the “masses”. I often look at TV reports and wonder if I can recognize anybody in these places, especially the innocent hoards tramping over London bridges. You leave me desperate to see the images which you captured.

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