The trip to the Paris Photo exhibition was made on the Eurostar. The train is fast and efficient from St Pancras in London all the way to Gare de Nord, Paris with only one stop en route. The tea was expensive as were the small croissants which made up my breakfast.

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PVA students plus tutor at the Paris Photo Exhibition

Paris Photo is housed in the Grand Palais complex which does not adequately describe the building. The huge glass roofed 19th Century hall reminded me of the large glass and steel structured plant house at Kew gardens only this building was much bigger. It was perhaps similar in size to the destroyed Crystal palace. The exposed steel beams and supports added to the beauty of the place as did the huge grand staircase at the rear of the exhibition.

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The exhibition itself comprised of showcases by Art Galleries specialising in photography. The work of literally hundreds of photographers were on show, too much to take in for just one day.

Many photographs created by famous photographers were on show including work by Brassai, Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon and Patrick Demarchelier which were a delight to see up close. Others were by perhaps less famous photographers and many were by people I had never heard of, but the quality of all the work was stunning.

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Photo: Jimmy Nelson

As a source of inspiration the show was priceless and I set myself the task of taking pictures of the pieces I liked the most. Not one gallery objected, even the ones displaying famous images.

The negative points were firstly the lack of seating, a few benches dotted around doesn’t count as adequate. Poor cafe / canteen facilities at over inflated prices with no where to sit, but the worst of all were all the reflections on the frames from the glass roof spoiling your view of the image behind the glass. Some galleries had constructed their own mini gallery and installed their own lighting thus allowing you a clear view, but sadly many just used poorly positioned lights and the available light present in the hall.

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Badly placed and badly lit framed image. 

The book stall area where you could review a book before purchasing, (the rear cover of which was glued to the desk to prevent removal) became very crowded and the more popular books had a queue to view them. The stalls nearby had all the latest and best editions of photography books that were on offer from all the publishing houses present but again the price of the books deterred all but the rich from spending money. The only thing missing from the exhibition was a gift shop, but as all the works on display were actually for sale I can understand why there wasn’t one.

Some of the artist photographers were also present, signing their books, but a part from a few exceptions these were generally up and coming but relatively unknown artists. Signed books were more expensive than unsigned ones.

The whole show was a commercial enterprise which once you accepted that fact was none the less enjoyable.


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