Paris, 7th September, 2015
During the first week of September this year, I visted Paris.
I was there to attend a friend's wedding, but fit in shooting these portraits. This was my first time spending more than a couple of days in Paris, so I spent most of the time walking the streets, and simply experiencing the city. Everyone knows how saturated in history this place is: it is impossible to ignore. At times I felt like I was in a giant open air museum. Contrary to the chiche of the prickly French, everyone I met was open, friendly and welcoming.
However feelings were overlayed by the migrant crisis: there were street protests supporting the imigrants and pushing for more openess. The foundations of Liberté, égalité, fraternité fought against the need for security.
Since then, of course we have witnesses the Paris violence. I was walking some of those streets only weeks before.
And two weeks later, I was in LA, and shortly after that came the San Bernardino attack.
It has been very hard to process what relevance the pictures I shoot have in relation to what is going on around us these days. "What is the point" I ask myself. Before all this, I was interested in photographing people, and in doing so, hopefully revealing a truth about them, and perhaps me. But this pales in comparison to the gigantic issues of the day.
Finally I am working through the images I have recently made, but hanging over everything is the same question.
In times like this, how is art important.
So here is my portrait of a French person. If anything I hope that we can celebrate this face, rather than the faces of hate and terror we are confronted with on a daily basis. Here instead is a person who represents hope, love, intelligence, and humour.
But... I am still thinking....