If you've never spent time in Paris during the summer you are really missing out on some incredibly rich events. It seems like every week there is something happening and it all starts in June when France starts their Summer Solstice with an event known as the Fete de la Musique, the streets are filled with musicians at every cafe, on every corner, the streets filled with music, wine and laughter from dusk to dawn.
In the summer you'll find the Paris Plage, which brings the beach to the River Seine, late night open air movies at the Park de Villette, where you can bring a picnic and watch a classic movie under the stars with new friends, and then, there's tango on the Seine.
A nightly event from June to August that happens along the quai of the lesser known Jardin Tino Rossi, where the banks of the river are filled with people of all skill levels twirling about to the sound of latin music.
The nightly event takes place near the Institut de la monde Arabe, in a spot that’s off the beaten tourist track. The area is nice and peaceful, and rarely a tourist in sight, this is an area reserved for the people who live here.
Before I ever visited, I assumed that the event would be sparse, with one or two dance teachers around helping people with some basic step combos and trying to get students to use their hips more. In my mind it was more of an outdoor dance studio than anything else, and there would be a DJ who kept the music blasting as loud as the surrounding neighbors would allow. In reality the event was nothing like I had imagined.
The quai was filled with people dancing all around and at first glance I couldn't fathom how the participants found enough room to dance without constantly bumping into another flaring couple or falling into the river.
I hoped i would be able to get up close and capture spinning dresses, hair tosses and flying feet but I quickly realized that would not be the case. There was no room without assuming that either I or my camera would be damaged.
I entered the dance party from the river side, behind the chaotic scene I could see a line of bystanders looking down at the dancers. I knew I needed to get to higher ground and change my vantage point if I wanted any good images. To get there it meant I would have to go into the heart of it all.
I watched from where I was for a while to see if I could predict any patterns with the group, were there going to be breaks when the dancing would stop or people quitting and leaving the crowd, I was trying to see if I could devise a strategy to make it to the other side in one piece.
I soon realized that I would just have to duck and dodge my way to the other side. As I worked my way through, I made a mental note to check event photography and photojournalism off my list of possible photographic career paths.
Safely on the other side, or at least safely enough on the other side, I could see that the people I had seen watching were actually dancers waiting for a space to open so they could jump into the mob and join in.
Although I was now on higher ground I still wasn't able to get a good vantage point as I was now stuck behind the dancers eager to get in. I tried bobbing my head up and down and even trying to find small cracks between the people, then I tried holding my camera up in the air above the people in front of me me and was very happy that I had bought a new camera with a tilt screen, even still, my strategy wasn't working.
I needed to get higher still. So I looked around again, and saw that there was a flower bed with a stone ledge behind us that would surely give me enough of a vantage point to start crafting an image.
I left the eager dancers and made my way to the flower bed, a bit too tall for a giant step up, but short enough where I could climb up with little embarrassment. Finally I had an upper hand and could see everything that was happening. I moved to the end of the ledge, anticipating a few copy cats who would also want a better look and took out my tripod. I set up my gear just incase I would need it and brought my focus back to the scene.
I could now see everything that was happening in this ecosphere. There were good dancers and bad, popular dancers who everyone seemed to want to dance with next, couples bumping into other couples, hair hitting people in the face, people who looked lost and uncomfortable, and people who looked completely taken in the movement and possessed by the music. I brought my camera to my eye, slowed down the shutter speed and continued watching.
As everything was happening so quickly I knew I would have to be in place to catch anything that caught my eye. I was using my 70-300mm lense and tried tight and wide shoots. I followed couples to see if I could get the flare of a dress that I had pictured and captured a few images of people who were lost in their own world.
Then I caught sight of this one woman in the crowd, she didn't look like she wanted to be there, uncomfortable, intimidated and not knowing where to go or what to do with herself. Where she was, was not a place for on-lookers or bystanders, she was lost, trapped in the middle of it all. She finally stopped and just stood still, not knowing what else to do. And I was able to capture this image with her perfectly still amidst the chaos and noise all around her giving the feeling as if she had the ability to see past it all.
This is one of the few color images in my collections and I kept it in color because it added to the vibrancy of the moment. I cropped it in a near panorama ratio, taking out the river in front and gave it a deep shadowing vignette to make the image feel never ending, everything just fades away to black as she looks off into the distance, past the noise and into the quite.
Focal Length: 110mm
Time: 1/0.8 sec