A flâneur. I have become what Charles Baudelaire described as “a person who walks the city in order to experience it.” In the morning, I go to my local café for coffee and walk down beautiful streets lined with dozens of parked cars and magnificent buildings that loom far above me. Each street is unique without breaking the architectural theme that brings Paris’ twenty arrondissements together.
The places immediately around my apartment in the 16e have grown to become familiar in the last few weeks: the cafés, the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the convenient store. Each day, I cross over the same side streets and pass the now familiar small parks that have statues of famous men that remind us of the past; however, after my morning coffee, I usually continue walking to places that I have never seen; to places that yet feel familiar.
On these walks, I carry my Leica with me. I am aware of the fact that I now look like a tourist, but I am simply documenting my life. The camera becomes my point of view while my journal becomes a trusted companion. And perhaps the street photographer is the modern day flâneur roaming through the city, looking for a moment or an image that jumps out at them. They look through their viewfinders as a way of getting to know a place.
I look to photograph something that catches my eye and write about an experience that burns into my memory long after I have moved on. I write about how I am living my life; what thoughts and emotions penetrate my heart and mind. I attempt to photograph more than a simple landmark, but the essence of a space. My eye is drawn to brightly painted doorways, ornate fixtures, curving streets, open windows, sculptures that line one of Paris’ many bridges, metro stations and the people around me.
The entire city feels as if it is straddling time. I feel as if I have one leg in the present and another in the past. You can imagine people in the cafés, strolling through museums and walking the streets fifty, eighty, a hundred years ago. It is as if little has changed over time and the city’s spirit has never altered.
I wish you were here with me. Walking these streets. Sitting across the table at the café. Philosophizing. Discussing art. People watching. Not understanding 90% of what is being said, but trying to communicate. Trying to be part of this foreign world. I think you’d love it here. Everything feels different here. Everything is temporarily new. I think your heart would race with the pulse of this city that breathes around you and envelops you in its breeze.