Blog: Urban Landscapes

Gary Geschwind
5 June 2009

Figure 1. The Louvre, from the Inside, Looking Out

Having grown up in New York City, I‘m definitely a city person. I enjoy the interesting mix of people, their activities, and the architecture of the city where they roam. It is an amazing environment for photography. 

Paris is one of my favorite stalking grounds. For a beautiful urban landscape, one cannot go wrong in choosing Paris. The architecture and people have created vignettes on life that have sparked the imagination and creativity of artists and photographers for centuries.

Even the most famous and photographed landmarks can be approached in creative ways. For example, the famous architect I.M. Pei created a glass pyramid for the new entrance to the Louvre Museum in 1988. Rather than the usual tourist perspective from the outside, I was seeking a unique way to photograph it. By shooting the pyramid from the inside looking out, one gets a photograph that provides an abstract feeling (Figure 1).

The architecture of Paris is magnificent, but don’t miss the little moments of life that happen on almost every street corner. Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world. As I walked around Paris, adoration filled the air from the extravagant, like newlyweds being photographed on one of the bridges across the Seine (Figure 2), to the more commonplace, a couple in a loving clinch absorbed in each other at a local brasserie.

Figure 2. Bride and Groom on The Bridge       

Figure 3.  Lovers


And what is more sensual than food?  Paris is also a city of truly great eating. In the Jewish quarter of the Marais, I watched a man gazing lovingly at the food in a kosher delicatessen (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Food Watching in The Marais

Figure 5. Sailboat Vendor in the Tuilleries

The ordinary often captures more of the culture of a country that pictures of their most famous landmarks. For instance, in the Tuilleries Gardens, vendors rent sailboats for kids to play on the artificial lake. Framing the vendor on the left of the image leaves enough room to establish a sense of place, or in this case, occupation (Figure 5).

When travelling into a big city like Paris, don’t just be content to capture that tourist photo of the Eiffel Tower that millions of others have already taken. While walking around Paris on Sunday, take photos of the interesting people that abound. And guess what? The truth is one doesn’t need to go all the way to France to do it. Any big city has similar sights and sounds; though the food may not be as good!