This photograph was taken last month as I took a leisurely walk along the River Seine in Paris. Somewhere near the Pont Neuf, I leaned over the wall separating the street from the walkway below and saw a couple relaxing along the bank.
It’s one of my favorite walks in Paris; I have others. In fact, I have favorite routes in many places that I walk over and over again.
Same Route, Same Pictures?
From time to time, this has made me wonder, “Am I repeating myself?”
It think it depends. If I were interested in shooting the buildings, perhaps I would be. But since my main interest is people, I think not.
No matter how many times I walk the same path, the pictures I take are never the same. Sure, the same buildings and trees are there, but the people — their numbers, actions and interactions — are always different.
My routes are my favorite routes because every time I visit them, I find something new that interests me.
In talking with my friends, I’ve found other photographers who share this approach — with their own idiosyncrasies. I’ve learned that how one walks a path says a lot about that person’s creative interests.
Following Our Interests
My friend John in Montreal, for example, likes to stop and visit the same cafes, parks and apartment buildings on his walks. He likes to shoot pictures of the people he meets at his various haunts.
By contrast, I prefer to shoot strangers, and to remain anonymous. I am interested in people’s shapes, body language, and moods. I tend to see the abstract patterns they form in relation to their surroundings.
Now that I think about it, maybe the well-worn path, or the favorite spot, is really just a familiar canvas that gives us the comfort to create. And not just for street photography, either.
I’m sure most landscape photographers have their favorite places, for example. And they, too, can capture something new — because the weather changes, or the light is different, or they feel different from the last time they visited. It all combines to make for a different image every time.
I guess that’s one reason why it’s so easy to fall in love with photography.
Photo © David Saxe