For urban sociologists (does that exist ? 😉 ) Marseilles must be an ideal playground. I’ve never seen a city change this fast or as profoundly.
Dear Susan Sontag would probably disapprove but I can’t resist taking photographs of the city purely to note its evolution every time I visit.
All the area between the “Vieux Port” and “La Joliette”, along the docks have been turned from an industrial and social wasteland into an upper-crust shopping boulevard compared to which the old Cannebière (which used to be called the most beautiful avenue in the world) looks distinctly tired and sorry for itself. The mix of the very rich front row and lower-class courtyard facing apartments immediately behind (see above) is a stark contrast and quite typical of the city. Worse (if you’re feeling judgemental) is the gentrification happening in Le Panier. The passage de Lorette (above) used to be a cut-throat area where I wouldn’t have walked at night to save my A7rII. Today, the building is being upgraded and most of the inhabitants have been relocated. The whole process apparently came to a halt when Lehman Brothers, who were financing the renovation and acquisitions came a clatter in 2008. Since then, it appears fresh money has been found and the whole area has been turned into a charming maze of galleries, museums and restaurants for the well-to-do tourist and the BoBo (bourgeois bohème, French for Bohemian bourgeois).
This has driven much of the population away from the streets that were so popular just a year or two ago (above) and into a whole new area that’s more open, more family-friendly and better looking for tourists (below).I really recommend Marseilles to anyone wanting to photograph a city full of idiosyncracies but pleasant and (more and more) beautiful. If you worry that, by the time you visit, Marseilles will have settled into a gentle rhythm with little left of its authentic self to photograph, don’t. Marseilles can’t settle down. Marseilles is always evolving. Some of the most recent upgrades have already suffered degradations. May underdeveloped areas remain in the sights of promoters and developers, artists are always on the move … The biorhythms of this city seem more agitated than almost any other I’ve visited. Come now and come again in 5 years, you’ll see for yourself.
I’ve visited and photographed often (most recently a coastal walk, graffiti and high contrast walls) using anything from a 15mm lens to a 135mm. Visitors with even longer lenses will have a lot of fun shooting sail boats, islands, birds, divers, sunsets …
Rather than worry about focal length, I would recommend using just one lens. First of all, you’ll be noting stuff every 5 seconds and changing lenses on the go soon gets tiring and frustrating. And, more importantly, spending a few hours with just the one lens is the best way of noticing scenes that fit just right. You can always crop or stitch to correct shortcomings.
This is what happened for the photographs on this page. All were made with my OTUS 85. After selling my kids and lens collection to buy one, I realised it was staying at home a lot, with Audrey, my sexy Distagon 1.4/35, getting much of the attention. Time to bring Hubert, the bigger brother, back on. The photos are obviously very different from those made with other lenses and,in the long run, I will try to assemble a gallery with only the photographs where the lens best matches the subject and intent.
#1206. Why shoot in monochrome? Why shoot in colour?
#1190. “What was it like in the war daddy?”
#777. Monday Post (15 October 2018) 341 – a milestone of sorts.
#746. The older I get, the less I know
#718. Interview; Kirk Tuck
#712. Monday Post (16 April 2018) – Pictures at an exhibition
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