Duke Miller – Paris Through My Lens by Duke Miller –
In May, I participated in the “Paris Through My Lens” street photography workshop, conducted by Valerie Jardin. I discovered her in a podcast by Darlene Hildebrand of the Digital Photography School. Valerie is originally from Normandy, France, a huge benefit to the ten students. Her pointing us in the right direction each day was every bit as invaluable as her street photography smarts and the training we received.
The workshop begins with a tutorial, illustrated mostly with Valerie’s work. The rules are simple: a) Seek timeless captures; b) no “postcard” shots; and c) “Bring me a view of the Eiffel Tower I’ve never seen.”
For six days, Valerie shepherded us to strategic locations. We then set out in teams of two, photographing people in the act of being themselves, creating “street portraits” (posed), and occasionally shooting just things that identify surroundings. Chief among her concerns were placing us in safe neighborhoods and timing the light.
Combining public transport with seven or so miles a day walking, you begin to realize Paris is a street photographer’s bliss. You could literally stand at any corner for a day and get your fill of suitable moments.
My camera of choice for street work is the Sony RX100-IIM, for its large sensor, inconspicuous design, and light weight. Most all captures are at Auto ISO, Shutter Priority (1/250 sec.), and with lens zoomed to 35mm full frame equivalent. I created a memory setting so I could instantly return to these base settings for quick response to opportunities that arose.
My takeaway: This was my seventh trip to Paris, and it occurred to me that whenever we travel, we “look” at lots of things. But on a street photography quest, relentlessly looking for appealing captures and, on many occasions, interacting with subjects, you truly “see” things, and you get to know more of the culture. The common hesitation to approach strangers vanishes quickly. (I was only turned down three times out of hundreds of opportunities in the six days!) In hindsight, the experience rates “bucket list” status. It is that exciting, that much fun, and far exceeded any expectations.
The details: Cost is $3600, includes welcome and farewell dinners; luncheon cruise on the Seine; and Hotel Les Grandes Hommes, opposite the Pantheon. ($1300 single supplement.) If you want to know more about this and other workshops by Valerie, click here.