Paris is surely one of the most photographed city in the world. Just a quick search on Instagram will leave you inundated with over 15 million hits under the hashtag #paris alone! Besides, it’s not hard to see why the city of love has such an allure: it’s simply so beautiful! But what if you want to take those memories home with you? Then you’ll need to know how to Photograph Paris!
So today, I’d like to talk about a combination of two of my greatest passions: the city of lights (a.k.a. Paris) and photography. Although photographing urban architecture can sometimes be daunting for the newbie photographer (I obviously still fall into this category!), there are a few simple shots that can be applied throughout the city again and again. I like to call it ‘the Paris photo formula.‘ So here’s a simple guide on how to photograph Paris using five easy techniques (and get it right every time):
The Corner Shot (the formulaic capture)
This is probably my favourite capture and what I like to call the typical ‘Instagram‘ worthy shot. How to take it: Stand in the very middle of the square/ road etc. right in front of the building. Make sure you’re aligned with the very centre of the building in order to get the shot just right; this will ensure a unique yet balanced look (quick note: please make sure to watch out for oncoming traffic!!).
You can also use this technique on what I refer to as the ‘add-on buildings‘ that are the tiny buildings that have been squeezed in between two larger buildings (see photo below). The technique for this shot is a little different: place yourself in the same line as the corner of the building and take your photo.
The Café Shot (the freestyle capture)
What could possibly be more iconic than Parisian café? Little coffee shops are cute and make for an adorable photo. Besides, with a café on every corner, you’re not going to find it hard to find a shot to take, let alone one you like!
This style of shot is more ‘freestyle’. Add sky or just focus on a particular architectural feature of the building: does it have a nice door? Are the chairs and tables particularly interesting? Take photos of things that interest you and your audience will see your enthusiasm through your work. Read more: Parisian cafés you can’t miss
The Eiffel Tower (the fun capture)
This is the fun shot: Play hide and seek with the Eiffel Tower! Add your friends into the shot. Just do anything in order to mix things up a little bit! Sure, everyone’s seen pictures of the Eiffel tower a million times.
But have they seen it from the metro, or amongst cherry blossom? Look for unusual shots that will surprise (and maybe even shock) people. But, make sure you stay true to yourself- don’t just take a shot to please people- they’ll be able to smell your inauthenticity from a mile away… Read more: unusual and quirky places to spot the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The typical side Street (the capture you have to find)
This shot is easy to take but difficult to find: take your photo by focusing in a straight line directly down the centre of the street (obviously watching out for traffic and bicycles). The most difficult part of this capture is finding the shot in the first place.
Make sure to look for streets with not too many cars or people: we’re aiming to focus on the ‘feel’ of the city in this capture and not the residents! Going at dawn or dusk will ensure that the light is less harsh and perfect for capturing the perfect ‘just discovered’ shot! Places in Paris where it’s particularly lovely to find this kind of shot are Le Marais and Montmartre.
The Postcard Capture (the imagination shot)
Of all the tips and tricks about how to photograph Paris, postcards are probably the most creative! Pick up a vintage postcard or two from the Flea Market at St Ouen for as little as €1 each and let your imagination run wild! Juxtapose modern Paris against Paris of the past; when finding the perfect place to capture your postcard shot, don’t be too surprised when you notice just how much Paris has changed over the years…
Have you enjoyed ‘how to photograph Paris’? Would you capture it differently? Let me know in the comments below.
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