5 November 2014
I needed quiet on that mild October night. I found it on the other side of boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris, opposite of the Latin Quarter, along the river Seine. It was by then already late in the evening, restaurants had closed, people were going home. A partygoer had left an empty whisky bottle on top of a wall, bokeh effects in the background giving the impression that particles of joy were lingering on.
A few passers-by were venturing out along the riverbank. Some had sat down on benches regularly spaced out, lit up by overhanging street lights. The scene seemed taken out of one of those black and white films from the 1930s, perhaps Fritz Lang's M with its characters, innocent and murderous, half-illuminated in the dead of the night. Or maybe was the scene taken out from a Franz Kafka novel, pedestrians going left or right, sitting down, going back, going nowhere. A motorbike zipped by; a vaguely menacing group of silhouettes trod along.
Less threatening was this couple, embracing, right next to the locked book shacks. Was this “a town where the people known as Happy Folk lived”? Would Strange Folk disturb those rare instants of tranquillity?
Either the couple was very much in love or they were playing with me, feigning not to notice me with my big telephoto lens aimed at them as they continued to cuddle, unperturbed. Like that boat quietly gliding on the river, I had disappeared into the night.
Update: here's a voice-over video version of this post –