Where was this taken?
La Défense, Paris. La Défense is the business district of Paris where large numbers of government and corporate workers are employed.
What was your thought process?
It was getting towards the end of the working day and the vast expanses of La Défense were starting to fill with people heading home. I noticed large crowds of people exiting one building in particular.
Having spent most of my time at La Défense creating calm compositions, utilising the clean lines of the architecture and placing people against the vastness, the crowds offered a different perspective. I decided to head into the crowd and try and capture the hustle and bustle, something which had been absent for most of the day.
As I moved through the crowds I shot instinctively, there was no time to be too considered. When the building had emptied, I wasn’t sure if I had anything, it had been so hectic.
When I was reviewing my shots in the evening this one stood out. Intuitively, I loved the multiple layers of contrast; the white and black coats of the foreground and background subjects, the framing of the dark building behind the subjects head, but especially, the standout appearance. I then dismissed the shot as it wasn’t sharply in focus. In this age of digital it’s something I instinctively do; I expect all of my images to be sharp.
When the rest of the group saw this shot the reaction was incredible. None of them cared about the lack of sharpness, in fact they thought it gave something special to the image, like it was from another time. Over time I’ve come to agree – even though I’d still prefer it to be sharp! What was it Henri Cartier-Bresson said about sharpness?
Would you approach the scene differently next time?
No. I’m happy with the approach I took. Some will say that this shot was lucky and they’d probably be right. But so much of street photography is luck, the key is consistently putting yourself in the right situations.