A Special Look “In the City” of Paris with Photographer Alexis Duclos

A Special Look “In the City” of Paris with Photographer Alexis Duclos

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in the city of Paris
"Carrefour" or Crossroads on the rue de Rivoli in Paris. © Alexis Duclos

Award-winning photographer Alexis Duclos has traveled the world for four decades capturing images of war, the human condition, political turmoil as well as the caprices of celebrities, and the power of world leaders.

He began his career at the Associated Press in the ’80s racing around city streets on a scooter covering assignments for the equivalent of 10 euros a pop. He went on to distinguish himself at the Gamma Agency for almost 20 years covering breaking news and magazine features to win several awards before also becoming a video filmmaker.

Yet for the past five years, Alexis Duclos has focused the lens of his camera on the city he knows best: Paris. The result is a striking collection of 29 black and white photos for an exhibition entitled En Ville (“In the City”) at the Galerie DUREV in the 7th arrondissement of the French capital from September 15 to October 10.

Alexis Duclos is no stranger to INSPIRELLE. A strong supporter of our online English language magazine since its inception, Alexis has often contributed his stunning photographs to illustrate our articles. He shared with us why the streets “in the city” of Paris never cease to captivate us, and what makes a good photo.

“En Ville” or In the City photography exhibition in Paris Sept 2022. © Gallerie DUREVE

Why “In the City”?

The city is civilization. It’s the place of all possibilities. I walk around with my SLR camera equipped with a 50 mm lens and I photograph the city without knowing in advance what it has in store for me. I am a troubadour of chance; I don’t expect anything or anyone. There is a notion of freedom that you don’t find in a village where everyone knows each other. I find the anonymity of the city fascinating and a little disturbing too. Especially during the Covid-19 crisis. In the city, there is only the city dweller lost in the middle of the immense urbanity. So, to photograph it, there are ingredients: Space, light, architecture, people and luck…

Feasting his eyes during “Apéro” in Paris. © Alexis Duclos

Is there a story behind some of your favorite photos of Paris?

Every photograph taken in the street is essentially the result of chance. For example, when I walked along the rue de Rivoli during confinement, there was suddenly this cyclist passing by and looking at me. At the same time, the light only illuminated part of the buildings! You have to press the shutter button very quickly; it’s a gunshot… Another example was when walking in the district of La Défense, I didn’t see anything that interested me and suddenly a black cat passes in front of me!

If the story of each photograph is different, the photographer constantly juggles between luck and chance, between “Nothing” and “Everything”. 

“En vélocipède” or On a Bicycle down the rue de Rivoli in Paris. © Alexis Duclos

Why black and white?

I like black and white. Black and white is made up of thousands of colors! I was influenced by many photographers, in particular Henri Cartier Bresson, Chris Steele-Perkins or René Burri. Burri’sMen on the roof of a building,” taken in Brazil in 1960, is for me the most beautiful urban photograph. There are more aesthetics and seriousness in black and white. Black and white precedes color; it is the archetype of photography.

Gravité in Paris. © Alexis Duclos

Why did you become a photographer?

From my childhood, I had fun photographing my family with a Kodak instamatic. I had this extraordinary power to create images! A cartridge of 12 black and white views, and voilà! We had to wait a long week before getting the development. I liked the aesthetics and the power of the photographs. The ability to make people laugh or astonish, surprise those around me. In my youth, the Internet did not exist and even less, digital images. So I was left with my dreams. I still had my travels and therefore, the adventure. The photographic report was the best way and the most beautiful pretext to see the world, meet people and produce images to share emotions. When I started, Jean Gaumy, a photographer at the Magnum agency, taught me a lot. I will always be grateful to him.

Flying high in “Manège” or Fair in Paris. © Alexis Duclos

In your opinion, what is a good photograph?

First, I think you have to learn to see. Seeing depends on one’s culture, education, and environment. Then think about what you want to show in a photograph. Its interest, its information, its aesthetics. Why show this rather than that? There is determinism in the act of photographing. I believe that a good photograph is the conjunction of four elements: Space, framing, light and the “right moment” to pull the trigger. But this is not enough. For me, a good photograph must have meaning, provoke feelings and be a source of reflection through the information it brings. 

See Alexis Duclos’ exhibit En Ville/In the City at the Galerie DUREV from September 15 to October 10, 2022.

location56 boulevard de La Tour-Maubourg 75007

1 COMMENT

  1. Such deep insights in your art Alexis….what a brilliant talent you have gifted the world. Congratulations on your new exhibit in your beloved city!

    Sylvia

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