Remember Paris

I’m not exactly sure why I’ve stopped going to Paris Photo. The last time I was there was five years ago in 2012; I’ve not even visited the city since, though I used to go there fairly often outside of Paris Photo. It is only a short journey on the Eurostar, and a comfortable one, so much better than air travel, and although there is still something of a hassle to go through customs and security, there is rather less wasted time.

Though I loved going to Paris, and there was always something interesting to see in Paris Photo, there was also an awful lot of walking around the show, and a great deal of what seemed to me worthless photography, mainly printed huge and with truly stratospheric price tags. Much of it appearing in the same galleries year after year (though sometimes they were different pictures that looked the same.) And even the work that was truly worth seeing was often still on show the following year and again the next time.

Although at first I went three years running, I soon decided every other year was enough, and chose those years when there was also a great deal of photography on offer outside of Paris Photo, with seemingly the whole city given over to le Mois de la Photo and le Mois de la Photo-OFF. But for 2017, the artistic director of le Mois de la photo, François Hébel decided to rename it le Mois de la photo du Grand Paris and to hold it in April rather than November – and the fringe also took place then.

April would have been a better month to go to Paris, likely to have better weather and certain to have more daylight, but I wasn’t organised enough to make it this year. It would be great to go, particularly for the Photo-OFF, which is a far more inclusive event. At Paris Photo if you are not a wealthy collector or a well-known photographer or curator you are something of an outsider and a second-class citizen, and a few of the dealers certainly it too clear. While at the various openings and events of the Photo-OFF, photographers (and others) are welcome, though my largely forgotten schoolboy French does sometimes make communication difficult. At Paris Photo the language is money, ruled by the dollar in American English.

I’ve sometimes made a small effort to brush up my French, but largely rely on the services of Linda to go to events outside of Paris Photo, though one year I did go on my own, and found it just a little difficult at times. And on my last visit in 2012, she came with me to all of the six openings I attended and was also invaluable on the one parcours guidée we managed ot fit in, which took us to eight venues of the Photo-OFF, at most of which there were talks by the photographer or gallery owner about the work. She also came with me to almost half of the other shows I saw that week – I think the total was over 80, but still had some time off to go to other things without me. There would have been a few more but for a nasty stomach upset towards the end of our stay which rather curtailed my activities.

You can read more about that trip – and see some of the pictures I took in our six days there – on My London Diary. The pictures on this post are from my 2006 trip to Paris Photo and you can see more on my Paris Photos site.

But don’t worry if you, like me, don’t make it to Paris Photo this year. You can see the best of it on-line at various sites, including LensCulture, which has Your Guide to Paris Photo and links to more about it.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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