That really inspired me and I was determined to replicate that simple act and made sure that I always walked with my camera. Whenever I had to go somewhere, I would leave a little early just in case I saw something unfolding that required I take just an extra second or two to catch.
That's exactly how this image came about. I was walking one day, on my way to work just near the Moulin Rouge in Paris. I went on foot, which is my prefered method of travel; in the middle of the blvd leading to the Moulin Rouge is a thin, tree lined pathway, at the front is a stone pedestal that had been there for a long time without anything on top, I've passed it many times and always thought it was a bit odd.
But on this day, while I was almost to my destination I ran across this man sitting on top of the pedestal, where one would normally expect to find a statue. He was watching the day unfold before him, unnoticed by most and ignored by others. As the city harshly and uncaringly rushed by him, the way cities tend to, I smiled at the idea of man imitating art instead of art trying to imitate man.
I continued down the path, so that the man's back was now to me and I took out my camera. I put on my zoom lens, adjusted my settings and waited.
Just behind the man and the pedestal he was on, was a flock of pigeons, it wasn't a very busy day but people where walking the path nonetheless and when they did a few pigeons would fly out of the way.
In front of the man you could see a beautiful Haussmanian building and traffic whizzing by. The man did random things; he stood up, stretched, sat down with his legs dangling off the front. Some people noticed his presence with little interest in his theatrics.
I took a few shots of him fiddling around until he settled on sitting indian style and he began calmly watching the busy day in front of him. I felt like my shot was about to come to life. I had been standing slightly hidden near a tree and dashing out from time to time to take a shot. Now that he had chosen a comfortable position, I did the same. I walked out into the middle of the path and squared myself to him and waited for my moment.
The pigeons had gathered again, fighting over food and I saw a few busses passing by, in front of him, I wanted to capture the movement of all these elements rushing by him sitting still, in the middle of it all.
I zoomed in tight, centering him in my frame, camera to my eye and waited for the elements before me to come together. A small family entered the path pushing a baby carriage, and the pigeons started flying away at the same time a bus was passing by in the street and the man, just sat in place and I was able to take the shoot I wanted.
In post, I made the image black and white, high contrast, heavy vignette to keep the viewer in the image and a square crop.
A week after I had taken this image, I found myself once again walking past this pedestal and to my surprise, it was no longer empty. It had now been decorated with a giant silver metal statue, encased by a multi colored, semi clear plexi box. Very modern, and in my opinion unfitting, but nevertheless this place, was now changed forever. I think it was in this moment that I had truly realized what capturing a moment meant. The image I had taken a week prior was already a mix of random occurrences coming together at the exact time I was passing by and now the place where it had all unfolded was changed forever.
Looking at the new artwork, I understood what it meant to capture a moment in time, I understood the greater meaning and importance it could have. I realized that I was not a only a street photographer, but a documentary photographer as well, adding to the history of this place; and although I had admired this many times in the work of the photographers before me from the 18 and 1900's, in that moment I wondered if they had known the greater story their work would tell, of how it would add to the story of Paris, of the endless expositions their work would inspire, telling people for generations not only their story but the story of a city, the story of a people and the story of a time.
I took the moment and looked at the new art work, in gratitude for the moment I had captured and hoped that one day, my image too would tell the story of this time, of this place and of these people; one that will now be a marker of the changing Parisian landscape, forever gone yet always immortalized just like the many images of Bresson and Doisneau, before me.