Last weekend in Paris was about gaining new experiences, seeing what I could learn by travelling on my own. Sunday night I spent time with photographer Molly S.J. Lowe, on an evening photo tour organized through Photo Tours in Paris. Molly is a freelance and fashion photographer, an American transplanted to Paris. It was fascinating to hear about what she does as a professional photographer, and to hear another ex-patriate point of view. Take a look at her beautiful black and white photography at the link above.
Molly was an exacting teacher, wanting me to get the shot right in the camera, rather than relying on post-processing in the computer. Once she learned I knew what aperture and shutter speed were, we focused on the details of composition. I learned more about shooting in manual and choosing the right settings for the look of the photo at night. I learned to look closely at the edges of the frame to see what was going on. I learned that my camera viewfinder is not very accurate as compared to what will end up in the picture – and it’s not even symmetric – so getting the shot right in the camera for framing takes some trial and error! I learned that it is difficult to use manual focus at night, but sometimes you have to. I learned the ins and outs of using the tripod to get a good shot. She made me pay attention to the little details, the things that make a difference, and take a photograph from ho-hum to great.
We spent three hours together shooting around the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Amazingly, in that time I have very few really good shots, and that is just fine with me. We stayed with each shot for as long as it took to get it right, focusing on learning those little details first hand, which is what I needed. And while I have several beautiful shots, there are only a couple that I feel a connection to and want to share here. These are the ones where Molly said, “OK, set up here and let’s see what you come up with…” rather than directing me on setting up the shot. These are the ones, like the fountain above, where I saw the image I wanted and she just helped me make it better and get it right. These are my view. That realization – that beyond having a technically beautiful image, it needs to also be my image – is as important to me as the lessons on the technical details.
Today’s photo of La Fontaine des Mers in Place de la Concorde is straight out of the camera, no editing. I find myself itching to crop it a little bit but in honor of my lessons from Molly I am leaving it as it is, because that’s what I captured in the moment. A moment I want to remember and learn from, my night photo tour in Paris.