Photography lessons, in hindsight

Several of my friends have commented that I seem a bit soul-sick since I got back from Paris. And they’re right.

It was a wonderful trip, full of interesting people and rich human experiences. But—photographically—I was disappointed. Not in Paris … but in myself.

Usually I find Paris irresistible. But this time my eye felt flat. To me, my photos looked as empty as I felt.

But then I got the sweetest note from my friend Chris:

i followed your blog quite a few days, your photography definitely picked up a notch, and it wasn’t slouching before. some great shots. loved the one of the guy with the kazoo.

Of all the travel photographers/writers I know, Chris is my favorite. He has a beautiful eye, a keen sense of observation, and a wonderful wit. So his kind words meant the world to me.

Still, I was wracked by self-doubt this morning as I continued sorting through my photos. Until I happened upon some proof.

I was standing in about the same spot—probably at about the same time of day—when I shot both of these frames. The first I shot last September. The second, just a week ago.

I paused to analyze both photos. Then I looked at lots of others. And I realized for the first time that my photography changed significantly during this trip.

I shot much less because I was more focused. And Instead of shooting sweeping vistas, I found myself working tighter. I started moving closer to my subjects, trying to show what caught my eye.

In short: I found myself shifting from being an observer to becoming a storyteller.

As the days pass, I continue to discover that—in many surprising ways—my two weeks in Paris really were the trip of a lifetime. What a gift …


  1. Great lesson. Shifting the focus from one point of view to another sounds so easy, but you explain, with this post, that it involves having (and using) a different mindset.

  2. Que de progrès dans ton cadrage.
    Je préfère la deuxième pour son cadrage qui donne une vision d’ensemble beaucoup plus aérée des lieux et permet d’apprécier cette rupture de ( style ? ) de l’immeuble d’en face avec sa partie inférieur en pierre et la partie haute qui ne l’est pas ( en pierre )…

    Super Ms Sunshine. 🙂

    MO75 from Paris.

    PS: J’adore cette rue et en particulier la petite ruelle qui se trouve tout au fond à droite des escaliers, en fin d’après-midi tu as le soleil qui se faufile et laisse passer une lumière MAGIQUE. 🙂

    • Bonjour, mon cher Mr. Sunshine! 🙂

      Merci — comme toujours — pour ton commentaire si gentil. Et, comme toujours, tu as fait une très bonne observation à propos du rupture du style dans ce immeuble. Je n’ai pas remarqué ça avant de lire ton commentaire.

      C’est drôle que tu adores cette rue aussi … et en particulier la petite ruelle que se trouve au fond des escaliers. Tu as toute la raison: Il y a quelques fois que la lumière est absolument magique dans ce endroit. Mais ça c’est vrai de Paris en général, je pense … 🙂

      Je te souhaite une bonne journée. Et peut-être nous pourrons avoir un petit coup de fil ce weekend?

      Salut, cher ami …

  3. I am surprised to read that you were not pleased with your pictures as I greatly enjoyed them and thought they were excellent. You have a good eye for composition and for noticing the quirky details. Your shots are artistic, observant commentary on a city you clearly know and love.

    I expect your feelings are actually caused by you becoming more sensitive to good photography. When you don’t know the difference, any shot can be pleasing, but the more you learn the difference between good and mediocre, the more critical you become of your own work. So it is actually in itself a sign of your improvement 😀

    Keep it up!

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