Truth be known, I am flattered and even somewhat amused to be invited as this month’s Featured Photographer. If you read the About page on my almost-photo-a-day blog FocusOnParis.com – I often skip Sundays – the first thing I point out is that I don’t consider myself a photographer, to be clear, and en plus I use an iphone. Now an iphone5. I know I know I should upgrade again but so far everything’s working fine, and I simply point, frame, and shoot whatever strikes me, wherever I happen to be.
Though I’d dabbled in painting in college, for me, photography was a skill I admired from the sidelines. Working as a correspondent and writing travel-related articles had given me a brush with the medium, as I’d grab whatever camera was around to illustrate a piece. Just being in close contact with photographers – my brother Ralph, my husband, inspiring photo-blogger friends – had been rubbing off on me and I didn’t even know it. Years before I did a stint in Cadaqués, a hidden away white fishing village in Spain just south of the French border that had became a magnet to artists, not just for its natural beauty and light (the aptly named Light At The Edge Of The World with Yul Brynner and Kirk Douglas was filmed there) but because the eccentric surrealist Salvador Dali had made it his home. Openings and parties in galleries and artists’ studios seemed a daily given. The view from my balcony alone, overlooking the jewel-like bay and hilltop church, had made a subliminal impact. I discovered that many of the rock formations and objects that appeared so “surreal” in Dali’s paintings were, in fact, very real. The Mediterranean, depending on time of day and season, could change dramatically from greens to blues to reds.
It was illustrating an article about Istanbul’s vibrant spice markets using my iphone camera a few years ago that made me realize I enjoyed this. Immensely. I have F-stop phobia and the iphone made it easy. I began to play with images that played on light. I strove for minimal edits and cropping, and when I launched FocusOnParis.com, simplicity was my motto. I would post photographs of Paris, my city, and keep captions brief so as not to distract from images.
Blues play an important role in my favorite photographs and strong colors attract me. The blog has been up less than two years but receives many visitors, increasing daily. I’ve gotten some interesting offshoot (pun intended) offers and assignments and hope to keep it going.
What do you love about photography?
The fact that I now “see” things I’d not have noticed before; a corner of a building, a parked bicycle, a door, juxtaposed colors… Many otherwise unremarkable little things as I go about my day have become favorite subjects.
My dream shoot?
A photo safari in Africa. I hear it’s life changing.
Time with Camera?
Since 2010, the year of my Istanbul Ephipany. But I didn’t start shooting more consistently until 2015, the year I launched FocusOnParis.com. Looking back I see an evolution in the quality of my photos.
Paris streets, street scenes, vistas, cafés, cobblestones, architecture, art, food…. The subjects of my photo blog.
Favourite Piece of Kit?
I’m dying to say Hasselblad or vintage Rolleiflex (two in my husband’s arsenal) but as of this writing it’s my faithful iphone5.
What is the first thing you notice about people?
The mouth. Then their eyes.
Mountain cabin or beach house?
Beach house but not just any beach.
Last book you read?
His Mother! by Sandy Richardson, just released. I contributed a chapter.
If I could travel in time?
The day before my brother died. As for another era, La Belle Époque in Paris, à la Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris.
What is the furthest you’ve been from home?
On The Other Side, in a spiritual dream.
If you were a crayon, which colour would you be?
Top of your bucket list?
Right now? Louisiana. Exploring the Bayou, old plantations, local specialties / recipes, what’s left of its French culture. Other destination, scheduled soon: the “heel” of Italy’s boot, the magnificent Puglia region with stops in Polignano, Trani, Ostuni, Alberobello with its troglodyte architecture…. I will travel far for good coffee and hear that even the humblest café on the tiniest village square there serves insanely flavorful espresso.
[su_box title=”Barbara Pasquet James – Featured Photographer” box_color=”#073992″ radius=”1″]Barbara Pasquet James.
Weekday Activity: Writer, Author / Photographer.
Location: Paris, France.
All images and text copyright ©2016 Barbara Pasquet James