Le 14 juillet, Paris

I’m finally able to sit down and spend a few hours editing my pictures from my trip to Seoul last year. I’m a bit slow at this because life gets in the way, plus I’m also reluctant to spend my time sitting in front of the computer when the daylight hours are long and I am still able to paint or enjoy the outdoors after coming home from work. In the next few days, I will be posting my pictures from Seoul, but today I want to share some of my photos from Bastille Day. I love to listen to French music when I’m painting so naturally I find myself constantly thinking of going back France. Maybe one of these days.

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Red white and blue

It feels like a million years ago but in 2015, I was lucky enough to witness the celebration of 14 juillet or Bastille Day in Paris. At the risk of muddying history and exposing my absolute ignorance, I’m pretty sure that this was the day when the starving French people had had enough of Marie Antoinette and her cakes and decided they’d rather have her head instead. It was a pivotal moment in the French Revolution and the birth of modern France. Anyhow, this is probably their biggest national holiday. The glitzy Champs-Élysées becomes a showcase of French military might and Paris becomes street photography paradise.

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Firemen, French firemen. I know you like them, don’t be coy.

Paris is a street photographer’s paradise pretty much 24/7 but le 14 juillet just makes the atmosphere a little bit more electric. It was a beautiful summer’s day.  This was my first real taste of street photography and I was very nervous going in. I’ve always hidden behind my long lens or took photos when no one was looking. It took me a while to get over my nerves. I don’t know about you, but as an introvert, approaching random strangers on the street is hard enough for me. Asking to take their pictures in a foreign language as you can imagine is even harder.

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I can’t remember how many pictures I shot, but the pictures of the army officers and the firemen were probably some of my prized pictures that day. Even now, I always find it intimidating to approach a person in uniform, especially when they are holding a weapon. Luckily these officers were having a good time. They were probably amused listening to me as I murdered the French language so they gamely posed for some pictures. People were relaxed and happy, okay maybe a little drunk that they didn’t seem to mind my camera at all.

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I shot these images along the Champs-Élysées and then later on stopping to shoot on the street corners somewhere along Rue Cambon and on the way to Quai Branly. I wanted to go to the Champs du Mars to stake out a spot where I could take a picture of the Eiffel Tower and the fireworks. In the end I didn’t even bother shooting the fireworks. All the time I was doing street photography, my heart was racing. I’ve never felt so alive.

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