I must confess to a habitual use of overly enthusiastic superlatives -- from
the clichéd "beautiful" and "charming" to the overused "awesome".
But the truth is, I can't help myself.
Paris is too wonderful for mere words and this intemperate use
of fanciful adjectives is just my way of saying
Paris, I love you.
Why use words when a picture so often captures what the written word can't. Photography is a way to commemorate and communicate
the moment and keep a memory alive forever.
Part reality, part art form, a photograph is a recorded image
of a split second in time -- and when in Paris, every second counts.
I have a strange habit of taking pictures of pictures.
Never as good as the original, nevertheless my snapshot
of a professional photo serves as a reminder of the moment
I thrill to see my Paris, the very nano-second the photographer
gave birth to an unforgettable memory.
"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.
What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things,
long after you have forgotten everything."
Aaron Siskind, photographer
We Paris enthusiasts will do anything to capture and hold onto the magic.
have the life work of internationally known photojournalist Ed Clark,
a career photographer who began with our local newspaper, The Tennessean,
and went on to join LIFE Magazine for twenty-two years.
LIFE was best known for its iconic photography,
cultivating only the best and the brightest.
Mr. Clark did not let his editors down.
His LIFE cover of Paris in 1946 perfectly captured the image of a city
clearly haunted by the ravages of a horrific war.
Forever beautiful yet sadly war weary.
His most famous photograph* (and a whole gallery of extraordinary work)
hangs in the front lobby of Nashville State Community College,
an unlikely home for such a celebrated body of art.
In my golden oldies days of cold calling, I once wandered into the school
hoping to secure an appointment with the marketing director.
I could hardly believe my eyes.
There was Paris -- in searingly gorgeous photographs -- to the left,
to the right, front and center, all around -- and better yet,
it was the Paris of my mother.
Mr. Clark left his lifetime legacy to the school that taught him how to develop film,
a gift that keeps on giving -- and Nashville is one lucky city thanks to his generosity.
His vision -- a policeman directing traffic on the Champs-Elysées,
a horse and buggy on the cobblestones of Montmartre, an artist deep
into his creative process..... are outstanding examples of everyday
life in the difficult days of mid-1940's Paris.
By the time I got to the receptionist, my eyes were filled with tears
and I had half forgotten why I was there in the first place.
*Ed Clark's most famous work is one you've probably seen before -- the
accordion player in Warm Springs, GA -- tears running down his face
as he mourns the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Mr. Clark photographed everything from the Nuremberg Trials
to Marilyn Monroe and the South's struggle with integration.
He was the only photographer allowed at Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall's wedding and was even personally escorted into Caroline Kennedy's nursery
by none other than the President to capture the best baby picture ever taken.
If you're visiting Nashville, take a moment to see these legendary photos.
But of course, my favorites are those magnificent portraits of Paris.
Always and forever, Paris.
immortal praise from all corners of the world.
His most famous photo, "Le Baiser de l'hotel de Ville", pure Paris art,
captures amour fou -- crazy love -- that so well defines the city.
My personal favorites are his fun and charming portraits of
Parisian children at play -- a mix of innocence and mischief.
His eccentric eye captured life's little moments in a way that adds
to the impeccable background of the world's most beautiful city.
"The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can
arrange the unexpected that you find in the street."
Robert Doisneau, photographer
was especially well known for his work for LIFE Magazine and Vogue.
The genius of his work was that one minute his snapshots could be
drop-dead glamorous and in the next as simple and homespun as pie,
but he always managed to snatch irresistible moments that took our breath away.
"Most of my photographs were taken on the spur of the moment, very quickly,
just as they occurred. All attention focuses on the specific instant,
almost too good to be true, which can only vanish in the following one."
Willy Ronis, photographer
I once saw his uncanny picture of the Café de Paris in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
and re-routed my entire vacation just for the chance to seize
that moment -- his moment -- in a little bar in the south of France.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, long considered a master of photography, often
wrapped his famous Leica camera in black tape to make it less conspicuous.
It was that kind of stealth commitment that made his photographs
so stirring, so unforgettable.
The man that began with a simple Box Brownie never used a flash, but
always managed to master the light and shadows of perfect photography.
"To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at that precise moment that mastering an image
becomes a great physical and intellectual joy."
Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer
The great Brassaï, born Gyula Haldsz in Transylvania, absolutely
adored his adopted city of Paris, especially at night.
He went for the dark and forbidding, and captured the seedy side
of Paris in a manner akin to artist Toulouse Lautrec.
He portrayed all sides of society -- contrasting cheeky children, haughty
high society mavens, squalid brothel workers Chez Suzy -- seeking to
make the viewer feel something about the depths of each disparate image.
His portrait of a prostitute cleaning herself over a bidet while her client
dressed to leave..... an unforgettable image of a distinct time and place.
"To me, photography must suggest, not insist or explain."
France-obsessed kooks who collect Paris coffee table books,
hang on to decades-old calendars and vintage postcards.
I can live with that.
There is no 12-step program that I'm aware of -- but then again,
I'm not even trying to kick the habit.
But many of you know a deep love of Paris shapes your life in many ways. And we all realized just how much on Friday, November 13, 2015.
After the horrific terrorist acts against Paris that awful night,
we saw the world rush to the defense of its favorite city.
Images the world over embraced Paris with worry, compassion and love. We wanted to do something to help.
Expressing heartfelt concern is not enough so we vowed
to do something -- anything -- to make it better.
And in our own way, we all did something for the people of Paris.
We posted pictures, we said fervent prayers, wrote checks, booked trips..... little things but hopefully efforts that add up over time.
My hometown, Nashville, paid a lovely tribute to its french friend
by lighting up many of our most visible landmarks
in the French Tricolor bleu-blanc-rouge.
My own favorite taste of France, gourmet market Little Gourmand,
hosted a very special ceremony to honor the people of Paris.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry attended and spoke with emotion
and determination about the need for solidarity.
Amélie de Gaulle, great-niece of french President Charles de Gaulle
and Honorary Consul of France for Tennessee, was in attendance -- meeting, greeting and consoling American and French citizens alike.
The vigil, at times somber, was filled with love and hope.
You could see the stiff upper lip on everyone's face and feel the
dogged resolve that France would recover -- freedom intact -- and
our centuries old alliance and mutual respect would remain steadfast.
Guenievre Milliner, Little Gourmand's owner, bravely smiled
even while she worried -- husband Eric was in Paris,
unable to return for several more days.
Candles were lit, the Tricolor waved, and peace signs
brought hope -- if only for the moment.
But through it all, our hearts were filled with
love for Paris and the people of France.
After all, when you capture a reflection of a particular moment in time,
it's a picture worth seeing.
It may not be a Doisneau or a Brassaï --- and for sure, the artistic play
of light and shadow is missing -- but if the photo creates a time-bank of
emotion and memories, it has served its purpose.
So here are a few of my photos of a moment in time.
Nashville honors Paris.
Viva la France!