Parc St Cloud, Paris copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010
When I was having my hotel booked for my recent stay in Paris, I realized that it was in the Boulogne section and actually close to Parc St Cloud, one of the many haunts and locations that Eugene Atget photographed in the early 1900’s. But I now here and my Atget photobooks are still back in my Southern California library, so I completed a quick internet check on the Atget photographs in Parc St Cloud and thought I was ready for a nice late afternoon walk to the Parc and see what I could see and potential photograph.
I already realized that I would not want to attempt a re-photography of the almost exact compositions as Christopher Rauschenberg (Paris Changing) competed a number of years ago. My line of thinking was two-fold, IF Atget was alive today, what might he do if he were in the Parc again today? The second was to photograph equivalents to Atget’s images. First, recall, Atget made his living by selling his photographs of the Paris urban and rural landscapes as reference images for the use by painters and architects. To really, really simplify Atget, his photographs were fact like and objective, straight and in a documentary style to render things as they were seen.
It might be debateable as to whether he would use digital today or still work with film, but he did adhere to his very old view camera and film well after new lens, tripods and cameras became available. I think that we would have been switched to color, not so much that Black & White was something that he could control, but that his clients and customers would want the reference photographs in color, thus to ensure his print sales, I think he probably would have switched to color. I think that for his personal work, he may have stayed with Black & White, but it is hard to be sure if he created personal work, because everything he photographed, he sold as reference prints to his customers, but as he grew older, there is a shift in the composition and framing of his park photographs.
Perhaps what I did not realize is that Parc St. Cloud is a really big garden park. So when I arrived in the late afternoon, I did not have much of a chance to walk about, but did find the pools and ponds that are nearest to the Seine River and adjacent to the Chateau St Cloud. So the question for tomorrow is, to return to the Parc or walk about else where in Paris? If I had to bet, I think I will be back in Parc St Cloud again tomorrow.
Best regards, Douglas