How come I love France and most things French? Oh let me count the ways… let’s see… there is the history… their respect for yesterday… they care more about food than most people… love the colors of their flag…love the art… love the hilltop towns… love the cars… love the smells… the bread…the markets… the friendly people… Spring in Provence… add to that…Winter, Autumn and Summer… Edith Piaf…the photographers and on and on it goes. I don’t like… the paperwork… the tolls… and well… those are the two things I don’t like. Oooppps… the third thing is the way they count… way beyond confusing… but what the heck.
Let me get back on track here. Vive la France! For a photographer… or for anyone interested in life itself… France… and in particular… Southern France is the place. The place for textures and patina and interesting people and structures that were built a couple thousand years ago. Personally, I can not get enough… so sometimes when I get depressed by the news on TV… I just get out my archives of photographs that I have taken in France. And then… I feel better. So… let me take you into a little corner of the world that gets my heart pumping… Provence. And like any good photo essay… let’s start wide and then get tighter. Let’s start with Gordes. Yep… rebuilt and expensive beyond belief… but beautiful… especially in the morning.
To get the worm… the bird has to be early… before daybreak. Set up and wait. This photo is not too mysterious to capture… you can do it with a pretty simple camera. A wide angle… and patience. And a solid composition! I wanted to say it was a hilltop town… therefore showing a bit of the valley was important but beyond that it is all about wanting to get the shot so much that getting up early was paramount! Now… let’s get a little closer… how about those little streets with all of that cobblestone and aging brick… love it.
And how about those shutters????!!!! Love it! Now look at the composition for a few seconds… a nice leading line takes your eye to the steps that take you to the colorful door. Yummy. And how about these for French shutters?
And speaking of shutters… freshly painted or not… I can’t get enough of them.
Ahhh… textures and patina… I am all over that like stink on a skunk! Just take a stroll down any old street and there is a photo awaiting your eye. Just be quick!
Further down the path, in almost any open space, the national game of the senior citizen… boules… will probably break out. I have shot several matches and have always been invited to take a few photos. But when doing so… just stay out of the way of the flying steel balls.
And ooppsss I forgot… when you are walking around… remember that a terrific photo may be above you… or below you. So keep an eye out for a simple shot that tells a simple story. Like this rooftop scene.
And remember… shoot signs! They help a lot to tell a story. You don’t need some ultra specialized lens or camera to capture most of the things I talk about.. just an earnest respect and interest for what is around you.
And don’t be shy about the weather. For heaven’s sake… the camera doesn’t know you are freezing your tutu off!
I love shooting in weather that is “not normal”. The reason is simple…. most people avoid “bad” weather like the plague. But if you want your photos to be out of the ordinary… shoot when others are curled up in their warm blankets. They might get an hour or so more sleep… but you will have your photographs! Here are a couple more… one taken in the cold of night and the other… in the early morning fog. Love them both.
But of course I shoot in great weather also… and when you do… look for interesting angles… various framing devices and terrific patterns. But above all… make it simple and have it tell a simple story.
And here are two of my favorite photos from Provence. They are a couple of my friends. They have completely different occupations. One is a shepherd. The other is a hat maker. Crazy but true. Both invited me into their lives without reservation. Both are extroverted… funny… and professional. They love what they do.
And heh… how many friends of yours are sheep herders or hat makers? You just gotta love France! And below is one more photo. Tripod of course… exposure about 30 seconds. But again… only include enough in your photo to tell the story. Any more is just confusing. As they say… whether it is France or the good ole U…S of A… Keep It Simple Stupid. I didn’t like typing that last word but heh…it is what people say. And here is the tripod shot… Annecy, France… and yes… that is a prison in the middle of the river.
Until next time… happy trails.