Friday, May 1, 2009

Cafes in Paris near Sacre Coeur and St Eustache

Very pregnant

Four men and three beers

Two women three beers


Stairs to the north of Sacre Coeur, leading up to the cafes

Le Refuge (at the top of the stairs)


Men only


Another cigarette

Why finding peace in the city can be difficult

Chips to go

Parisians love their coffee and their cafes. As soon as the sun starts to warm the days, Parisians find outside tables where they can relax, talk, read, check email, have a beer or Coca, or just watch the world pass by. Even as planes fly overhead and as cars pass within several meters away, or as pedestrians almost bump your table, these cafes provide a quiet answer to the hectic pace of life and places where friends can meet without worrying about preparing to entertain guests.

Taking pictures of people at cafe tables is not easy. Most people sort of know that once they are outside, on public sidewalks and streets, others can indeed take their pictures. But this does not mean that everybody welcomes intrusions into their private moments. Since I am somewhat shy and never want to be confrontational, I have developed a method for taking these pictures. I am learning to cradle my camera in the crook of one of my arms. The lens points about 70-90 degrees from where I appear to be looking. The camera's settings have been fixed for the lighting, I shoot at a fast speed in the hope of avoiding image blur, I usually set the lens somewhere around 35mm (wide angle), and set the automatic focus so that it picks up close images. Then the trick is to find people who are engaged in each other, or possibly supremely bored, and, when shooting, it is important to keep the camera reasonably level to the horizon. I find this enormous fun and equally unpredictable. Expressions change during a heated conversation, a cloud suddenly changes the light conditions, someone unexpectedly gets between me and the cafe tables, and so on.

These pictures celebrate friendship and cafes around the world.