There are moments that remain etched in our minds forever. The birth of a child, a first kiss, the loss of a loved one or that feeling of freedom you felt when you embarked on a grand adventure.
World events often have the same effect on us. I can only imagine what it felt like to watch the moon landing for the first time. I wasn’t around then, born four years too late, but I can recall with absolute certainty where I was when the planes hit the towers on Sept 11th, 2001. I was in a different country that day, 4500km away from New York, but I knew that the world changed that morning. We all did. Over the next few days we were inundated with images, reliving those horrific events over and over again. As a paramedic, I felt a sense of loss for my brothers and sisters who died performing their duties. As a human being, I felt an even greater sense of grief for everyone who was touched by what happened.
A lifetime later, in 2016, I visited the World Trade Centre Memorial and was brought right back to that day by every photograph that I saw. I was no longer working as a paramedic of course, PTSD ensured that, but the images brought back all of the emotions like it was yesterday.
That is the power of a photograph. It can remind us of joy, of sadness, of triumph and of loss.
Photographs are powerful.
I was teaching three weeks ago when news of the Notre-Dame fire started coming out. Paris is a city that I love deeply, one that I visit often, and Notre-Dame is always my first stop when I arrive on the ground. I am not Catholic, but there is something special about the area around the cathedral… especially at night. I have spent countless evenings sitting on the riverbank just thinking, people watching and looking at the lights of the cathedral. Notre-Dame represents hundreds of years of history. Notre-Dame IS history, standing tall through World Wars and foreign occupation, so it was painful to watch it burn that day.
Since then I have been going back through my images of Paris, re-visiting memories of past visits and experiences I have had there. I found myself re-processing many of these images in black and white, perhaps a reflection of how I was feeling at the time?
I share these images with you now, some posted for the first time and others previously shared after past trips. All images were taken with Fujifilm X Series cameras, predominantly the X100 series, and processed in Acros or Monochrome +R.
I’ll be back in Paris very soon for another workshop. Until then, I have my photographic memories.