21 June 2009

Cosmopolitan Playspace

link to this | View all from »

Sarah Trois at 59 Rivoli. Photo by Eric Francis.

I learned photography twice: once as a reporter, and a second time in Paris. My life in this city was about learning to eat its visual expression like food, and one way you can do that is with a camera. Think of it: looking at pictures days or years after they happen, you can eat the same chocolate mousse time after time and not gain an ounce.

Paris brought out the part of me that wants to see for its own sake. Plenty in this world wants to be seen for its own sake. I explored the dance of looking, and being observed observing. This teaches a kind of zen-like acceptance of the whole process. Once a cop made me erase a picture of him, but the police in Paris do make an interesting thing to observe in action. I started doing photos of news events for their visual appeal rather than their news value. Here is an example of that.

I also began working with models. Coming from street photography and spot news, it felt surprisingly natural to be setting up a person in a space, usually with a mirror, not entirely sure why I was doing it. The Parisian women I photographed were generous and gifted, and I also detected a touch of reverence for the photographic process, which was developed in 19th century France.

Traveling in the Netherlands and living in Belgium, I discovered that there is a reason Flemish painting looks the way it does, which is the light in that part of the world. Living in Brussels I was approved for a very nice press card, which gave me the opportunities to photograph proceedings and news conferences featuring various governmental celebrities.

But I spent most of my time in that window, photographing whoever was willing to stand there. Though many other apartments overlooked this one, no model ever hesitated to be naked in sunlight, in that spot.

After a decade of travel, living in several regions of the US, Canada, France, England, Germany and Belgium, I once again made home in the Hudson Valley of New York State. I live in an artsy, rough at the edges town called Kingston, which was once the state capital. My studio is located inside what was the original stockade built to protect Dutch settlers from the wild country all around.

Commenting is closed for this article.