We’ll Always Have Paris

This photo of love-struck teenagers in a cruise ship on the Seine, with a faint Eiffel Tower in the twilight distance, appeared in July 1989 issue of National Geographic. It may be less historically important, or iconic than many other photos featured on this blog, but it speaks to me on a more personal level — perhaps because I feel that sort of carefreeness slowly slipping away from me , perhaps because one of my close friends’ favorite photos, who knows? 

It is just one of those photos that really encapsulate the best practices and ideals of photojournalism. To get this photo, David Alan Harvey spent weeks living among a group of French teenagers. He went to school with, ate with, travelled with and slept in their homes. He recalls his days in France:

About 90 percent of the time, it was really boring. They were just doing homework or taking exams. But they got used to me and I became a mascot, so that they wouldn’t pay too much attention to me, and I was both a part of their lives yet detached enough to take the photographs. 

This picture is the most representative of the culture because it’s just after graduation, and you have the water and the Eiffel Tower in the background. I took more intimate photos too, but this one worked really well for the story. 

This picture also has a special meaning for me personally, because it’s taken very near where the famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson lived. The French photographers were my heroes when I got started, and I spent time trying to emulate the street photography of Cartier-Bresson. But eventually I moved away from that and also away from black-and-white toward color photography. Cartier-Bresson wanted to be invisible, but I don’t. I want to be an integrated member of the group, and I think I achieved that with the photos in France.”

As it appeared in National Geographic

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0 thoughts on “We’ll Always Have Paris

  1. Even though it’s an unrelated topic, you should continue with the Iconic Paintings thing, even though it was an April Fools joke. It could actually be very interesting.

  2. Great photo. I remember that edition of NG very well even though I was 14! The photo in particular is the other girl that did not get her grades in exams for college. The picture in the cafe and the cigarette. It captures the complete paralysis and shock. Unable to realize her dreams and unable to change her past – stuck in the present trying to absord her personal tragedy.

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