Saturday | Departure | 7,930 Kilometres To Home

Paramedicine was a dangerous job, the streets unpredictable, but to know true danger you really just need to take a cab ride to Charles de Gaulle Airport.  Last year was the worst, with our driver literally falling asleep multiple times on the highway at the end of a long night spent ferrying revellers home after France won the World Cup.   Lightening doesn’t strike twice though, right?  Well, as it turns out, sometimes it does.  My driver didn’t fall asleep this time thankfully, but he did set new land speed records through the use of… creative… lane changes.

I think I might just walk to the airport next year.

I was excited though, despite the ride, because airports always inspire me to make new photographs.  There is something magical about the way light and shadow bounce through a terminal,  due to the glass architecture and design.  

I had a 2 hour wait, so I made photos until we boarded (see images below).  As I settled in for the 10 hour flight home I had time to reflect on the past week.  How lucky am I?   I lead an amazing life, full of travel and time spent with wonderful students, and now I get to spend time at home with my family.  Balance, right?  And gratitude.  A LOT of gratitude.

I hope you enjoyed this eight part series documenting a week spent teaching in Paris (click here to go to the first post).  Looking forward, there are a few things coming up on this site that I am incredibly excited  to share with you.

Until next time,

Ian

To view the previous post click here

Thursday & Friday | Workshop | The Final 36 Hours

Thursday – 4:00am

I’m startled awake by the incessant beeping from my alarm and it takes a few minutes to clear my head.  Looking out the window I can see that the rain of the last few days is gone, replaced by a thin cloud layer that I know will give way to beautiful sunshine at some point today.  I’m excited now… there is something magical about being up early in a city like Paris, a feeling that you have the whole place to yourself.  I love it.

Thursday – 5:17am

We arrive at Pont des Arts, the famed love lock bridge of Paris.  The locks are gone now, the bridge renovated a few years back to prevent them from being re-attached.  I think this is a symbolic loss for couples in love visiting this city, the loss of a tradition, but the sad truth is that the weight of the locks damaged the bridge.  

The plan for this morning is to shoot the sun rising behind Île de la Cité.  It is an iconic shot, one that has become a rite of passage for me each time I return to Paris, but it never grows old.  The morning clouds deny us a sunrise, unfortunately, but they do reward us with a beautiful blue sky reflected in the calm morning water.  It was a wonderfully peaceful morning spent shooting with friends, and soon we were heading back to our accommodations to rest up for the afternoon / evening session.

Thursday – 3:00pm

Our Uber drops us off near Les Invalides, about 2km from the Eiffel Tower.  The goal for the afternoon is to explore the wonderful neighbourhood between here and the Eiffel Tower.  We usually do this “Amazing Race” style, using the Eiffel Tower as our meeting point and giving the students two hours to get there.  I always love seeing everyone’s images from this session, because each student delivers a different take on the same neighbourhood.

Thursday – 5:12pm

We arrive at the Eiffel Tower, a location that is both wondrous and a bit sad for me now.  Wondrous because it represents the joy and elation that travel brings me, and sad because of what the experience of visiting the Eiffel Tower has become.  The base of the tower is now surrounded by 10’ high, 2” thick bullet proof glass.  Soldiers, part of France’s Opération Sentinelle, patrol the area with long weapons at ready.  Entry to the tower is gained via long lines and security checks.  Gone are the days of simply strolling underneath the tower, hand in hand with your love.

Now, it is safe to say that working as a paramedic for 20 years made me a realist.  I understand today’s world, as I do the need for heightened security.  Paris is a city that has been occupied in the past, has been attacked multiple times in recent years, and it rightfully takes safety very seriously.  Still though, I cannot help but lament the loss of innocence a little bit.

We continued shooting in the area, grabbed dinner as a group, and found our spots to enjoy the sun setting behind the Eiffel Tower.  We shot the sunset.  We shot the blue hour.  We shot until there was no light left to shoot.  It was a great way to spend our final evening session together.

Friday – 4:00am

The alarm goes off again, after only 3 hours of sleep this time.  Our Uber arrives shortly after and we are off to Le Trocadéro et son esplanade, the final shooting location for the week.  Here we encounter a challenge:  A film crew is barricading off the main area that we want to shoot in.  

Sigh.

Flexibility is an important trait for all photographers though, you need to be able to roll with the punches, so we worked the scene over the next two hours and made several different images.  In a hint of irony rain drops started falling again as the sun rose in the sky, but we had our images and felt great about the morning.

2:00pm

After breakfast and a well deserved rest we all met to present our own Story of Paris.  The students shared some wonderful work, as they always do, and it was bittersweet to see our time together come to a close.  These workshops may start as a group of students and educators, but they always end as group of close friends who have shared their passion together for a week.  Because of that, saying goodbye is never easy.

In 16 hours I will leave for the airport though, heading home to see my girls who I miss dearly.  There is just enough time for one more walk through Luxembourg Gardens, one last Parisian dinner, time to pack my bag and maybe a get a little bit of sleep.

Soon I will be home.

TO VIEW THE FINAL POST IN THIS SERIES CLICK HERE

Tuesday | Workshop | Day Two

I woke up tired, realizing as I turned off my alarm that I missed a FaceTime call from my daughter… a frustrating way to start the day.  The weather forecast called for:

“Thunderstorms, some severe.  Storms can bring downpours, large hail, damaging winds and a tornado”.

A tornado?  In Paris?  This could be interesting…

The rain held off until the end of the day, allowing us to explore and photograph the two islands in the Seine:  Île de la Cité  and Île Saint-Louis.  It was a day on the streets, a reminder that the heart of Paris doesn’t just beat in the churches or the towers, in the museums or the palaces.  The heart of Paris beats on its streets, in the lives of its citizens, and this is what we set out to capture on this day.

Simple scenes.  Snippets of daily life.  The heartbeat of a city.

Click here to view part SIX of this series