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I refuse to submit to the idea that Paris is a cliché. I marvel at the same picture of the Eiffel tower everybody takes from the same exact spot. I love to remember walking through modern streets and suddenly encountering a block full of very old buildings or a very old church.

I live in Puerto Rico, a country that little more than 500 years old. So no one has any idea of how fascinated I was in a city as old and memorable as Paris, where the same streets were walked by people when Columbus first came to Puerto Rico, where the Seine River was crossed daily by human beings 1,000 years ago.

Paris is a cliché. But it has not become it for nothing. When I went in summer 2004 to take a month-long class at La Sorbonne, I had never had a digital camera (I was exclusively a Lomographer only until 2007 because I had no money nor interest in digital cameras). I owned a Nikon FM10, the same camera I had bought to take my undergraduate photography class. It’s a completely manual, 35mm camera, and if you know how to deal with aperture and exposure, you know the photographs you’re taking are infallible. It took time to focus, though.

That camera went everywhere with me in Paris in 2004. It was later stolen in a break-in at home, but at least I have beautiful memories of it, which are evident in the wonderful photographs I took with it. It strolled with me by the Seine. It was heavy in my purse while I rummaged through the July “soldes.” It shared space with a set of watercolor pencils I bought at a “ten cent” store in Boulevard Saint-Michel with which I repeatedly attempted to draw while sitting in the cozy, little park next to the Museé de Cluny (I always got distracted there watching an old man who came every day to feed the pigeons, which expected him, and finding little nooks in the stone walls). It saw great works of art. It allowed me to photograph inside Notre Dame Cathedral (because of its obvious lack of flash).

They didn’t allow me to photograph from the Arc du Triomphe, though. I had a tripod and was planning to take those breathtaking pics of nighttime Paris, with the Eiffel tower in the backdrop. While I was installing it, an employee told me not to. I was heartbroken. I took several pics that came out moved (and that really annoyed me back then) and spent the rest of the night crying and in a bad humor. I later learned it’s prohibited to take nice, defined pictures of the Eiffel tower at night, when it’s lit-up. The government of France reserves the right to publish them.

Paris turned my life around for a while. I had been there before with my mother in 1999 (we backpacked throughout Europe as my high school graduation present), but only for three rainy days that were too uncomfortably wet and cold to be July. My mom also went again, without me, later. It wore off with time, but after visiting it this second time, I obsessively believed my sole purpose in life was to find the way to live there. I printed the pics roll by roll, every time I could get some money, and meticulously organized them in numbered albums, like some sort of logically ordered collection.

written by isabelbatteria

13 comments

  1. eatcpcks

    eatcpcks

    Paris isn't cliché

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. jaalvarez

    jaalvarez

    Paris is a great and wonderfull town, with a lot of secrets and surprises ... Great article!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. panelomo

    panelomo

    gotta' love Paris - and lovin' your shots too! :)

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. isabelbatteria

    isabelbatteria

    It's not, eatpcks, not at all.

    Thanks, jaalvarez and panelomo, for your kind words. They mean a lot to me!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. lawypop

    lawypop

    great article! i wan to visit paris again ..this time with my lomo :)

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. isabelbatteria

    isabelbatteria

    Thanks, lawypop. Me too!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. bravopires

    bravopires

    i love the streets and shops the way you saw them! for me it proves you know how to see a place (not only the obvious monuments but the place itself)! also great text! the gov of France reserves the right to???

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. isabelbatteria

    isabelbatteria

    I found this text in the Internet and it pretty much summarizes the fact. I hope it's helpful. I don't take my own photos down because I don't think they're good enough to elicit controversy. Thanks again for your comments!

    "Has the city of Paris really copyrighted the Eiffel Tower as it looks lit up at night, meaning that anyone (including a tourist) who takes a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night has to get permission and pay a fee before publishing that picture? As bizarre as it sounds, apparently this is true. Even if you wanted to post your holiday photos of the 'Eiffel Tower by night' on the web, you would technically have to get permission first. The Eiffel Tower itself was built in 1889, and therefore its likeness entered the public domain long ago, but the Parisian authorities sneaked around this fact by copyrighting the lights on the Tower. They did this in 2003. That's why the copyright issue only applies to the Eiffel Tower at night. So technically it's not the tower itself that is copyrighted. It's the lights on the tower. But you can hardly photograph the tower without getting the lights."

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. les_parisiens

    les_parisiens

    Nice article. Let us know next time you come around here :) cheers from Paris

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. myloveletter

    myloveletter

    ahhhh, paris. if i ever get to go, it will be the best days of my life. stunning gallery and great article. bravo. tres bien?

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. mikahsupageek

    mikahsupageek

    oui, trés bien ! Paris one of those eternal beautiful cities !

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. slemley

    slemley

    Great article. Makes me want to back a bag and go there right now ... naturally with a camera. Thanks for sharing!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. superlighter

    superlighter

    very nice story and very nice photos! however, reading the fact about the copyright over the Eiffel night lights is proof that the human race is close to it's disappearance from the planet earth, and it's not as bad! hahaha!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Português, Spanish & Français.