🇫🇷 The Best of Paris: Street Photography
How was it shooting in the City of Light with just mobile cameras?
“What’s the best thing you saw in Paris?”
This question has been posed to me several times since returning from Paris, where I filmed the latest PhotowalksTV episode, about what is arguably the most photogenic city in the world.
Eiffel Tower? Arc de Triomphe? Alexander III bridge? All those baguettes?
So many choices, but it comes down to this: just roaming the streets with a camera, the way the great Paris street photographers did in the 1940s, looking for inspiration amongst the 20 different arrondissements.
It’s not hard. As my wife Ruth noted in her post about Paris, every street in Paris is a museum. Every building is a masterpiece, or so it seemed, with craftsmanship that would be unheard of today.
The street photographer masters back then pranced around town with their 35mm Leica cameras and a basic 50mm lens. I had the 2022 equivalent: an iPhone with a standard 24mm lens (1x), plus the additional lenses that are built-in: ultra-wide (13mm) and the 77mm telephoto. My camera of choice is way more versatile, I dare say sharper, and can shoot 4K high-resolution video too.
That said, I spent a lot of time documenting the “greatest hits,” in the opener of the Paris Photowalks series and point out where to go and how to document them. Please do me a favor and check out the episode, if you haven’t already. I also offer tips on photographing each one of the ten hits on the PhotowalksTV blog and in the Easy Reader. And there’s a gallery of my favorite Paris photos on my website.
Coming soon: episodes on the most walkable neighborhood in Paris (Rue Cler), most photographable (Montmartre) and a guide to the 20 arrondissements (districts) of Paris. Stay tuned.
No Sony, no laptop?
Before I left I signaled here that I would be leaving my laptop and big cameras at home. So how was it traveling around Paris without them?
Going sans laptop was a good decision. The reasons I would have needed it was to edit video on the road, and my schedule was too packed to do it this time around. Secondly, for backing up the photos and video. (More on why I didn’t need the laptop for that, directly below.)
The big camera? Well, I did miss it. The feel of a traditional camera and my hand on the body, my finger on the shutter, with a viewfinder I could put my eye up to, and see things more clearly. I missed all of that and I envied all the photographers I saw roaming the streets of Paris with their Sonys, Fujis, Canons and Nikons.
That said: I left the room every day as early as 6 a.m. and often wouldn’t return until 9 p.m. or so. I was free as a bird, with two phones in my pants pockets and microphones in my shirt pocket and a selfie stick in my hand.
The freedom was incredible, and a great weight (literally) was off my shoulders. I would highly recommend this approach to anyone traveling that isn’t on a full-scale, paid assignment. (Or convince your backer to let you shoot mobile.)
Video looks stellar (at least to me,) 4K and high resolution, and the photos I’d give a B+ on the sharpness scale. But as you can see from this gallery, through treating the iPhone like a pro camera, remembering about timing, manual override and of the use of the digital darkroom (a.k.a. apps) I was able to get pretty close to everything I would have picked up on a big boy camera. Not 100%, but who expects that?
The big miss: ultra closeups. Take a look and please let me know your thoughts.
A word from our sponsor, SmugMug
Speaking of backup, SmugMug, the photo site I use for backup, photo management and the ability to sell prints to clients, supports PhotowalksTV, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
I’ve been a happy customer for over 15 years, and as I noted above, in my Paris hotel room I didn’t have to deal with inserting camera memory cards into a laptop and uploading to galleries for hours to backup my shoot. Instead, since I was all mobile, SmugMug’s great app (for iOS and Android) did the work for me, automatically backing up everything I shot shot in the background. That helped me sleep well! (Caveat: video files can’t be over 1.5 gigabyte to get into the Auto Backup folder. If they’re larger, you’ll need to manually upload them. SmugMug’s total limit on video files is 3 GB.)
SmugMug runs my http://www.jeffersongraham.net website. I’ll be telling you more about SmugMug features over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, plans start at $110 yearly (with way more generous terms than Apple or Google.) SmugMug offers a free two week trial. Check it out.
iPhone Photo Show Podcast
On this week’s podcast, I compare notes on mobile photography with traveling photographer Jack Hollingsworth.
Another amazing December sunset!
Have you heard me say that we get the best sunsets in November and December? Here’s another great one, from Saturday night. The other thing I usually say is to stick around after the sun falls, because that’s when the colors can sometimes get richer and more dramatic. This was taken 32 minutes after the sun fell, back home in Manhattan Beach, on an iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Thanks for taking a moment to read, watch and listen! Have a great week and Avoir!