I have been interested in photography (or some other art-form) my entire life. And about 25 years ago I discovered a small but thick book of glossy photos at a local library by George Brassaï
. It was published in 1933 and titled Paris de Nuit
(Paris at night). I was mesmerized by it. M. Brassai, a Hungarian by birth, spent most of his adult life in Paris and was friends with many artists and writers of the time, most notably Henry Miller
. Well apparently M. Brassai lugged his camera with him when he and Henry Miller went out for their all-night jaunts. But as usual, I’m getting slightly off topic.
Last summer my son and I went to Paris on holiday. I have always loved this city and had been there 4 times prior but not in more than 15 years. During that 15 year lapse cameras went from film to digital (for an amateur such as myself this is a good thing). The beauty of digital is that you can take hundreds of photos just to get a couple you want to save. I took more than 1000 photos in the week I was in Paris but only really saved a few dozen (click here
, and here
to see some of them).
While in Paris we visited a few Museums, and one of them was the Centre Pompidou
where I came across an instillation of photos by George Brassai which I lingered over.
Paris, of course, is one of those cities (for me) where I often feel as if I am walking in a dream. Not only because of its incredible history but also because of its beauty. One of my favorite areas of the city is Montmartre
, and where I took a great deal of photos.
Anyhow, recently on my lunch hour at work I Googled images for Brassai
and one of the photos that came up was the one pictured above. It’s from his Paris de Nuit
book. Again, I was messmerized…but this time I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I had seen that shot before. Then it dawned on me. I had seen that image in real life. So I went back and looked through my Paris photos from last summer and found it, but it was more close up and taken in the daytime. I cropped the above photo to somewhat match mine. I mean no disrespect to M. Brassai (by altering his original) nor do I think that my image is even in the same league as his, it’s just to illustrate my story. And there they are, side-by-side, an image of the same doorway separated by 80 (or 81) years.
Anyhow, I remember the day perfectly. My son and I were tired and hungry. We had walked a lot that day and it had rained a lot. It had just stopped raining and as we marched through Montmartre I caught a glimpse of this doorway and it stopped me in my tracks. It looked timeless. So I took out my camera and snapped a quick shot. And as I did, unbeknownst to me at the time, I stood–quite literally–in the very same spot that George Brassai stood some 80 years earlier. And this, I think, is pretty interesting…