Another must-see is the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, located in an elegant building in a small cul-de-sac in Montparnasse. Cartier-Bresson was a master of the black-and-white format, and his exacting composition and unique perspective on Paris street life blazed a trail for those who followed. The Foundation offers a limited number of rare original prints for those who want to take a piece of HBC away with them. You could also head to Polka Gallery in the Marais, which has an exclusive collection of original Raymond Cauchetier pictures, who mirrored the nouvelle vague film directors Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Jacques Demy during the 1950s.
Snapshots of Noir et Blanc in Paris
Must-see spots for photography lovers in the City of Light.
A quintessential Paris photo is invariably a moody black-and-white one – dark, with heavily diffused lighting and long shadows. This defining aesthetic was pioneered by the great French photographers of the early 20th century – Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai and Jacques Henri Lartigue. However, Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville (The Kiss at Hôtel De Ville) is perhaps the most iconic photograph ever taken in the City of Light. The image of a young couple kissing in a busy street was taken by photographer Robert Doisneau in 1950 and has become an internationally recognized symbol of young love.
“The city is always moving in a series of fleeting moments and magical surprises.”
That said, Paris is not a static picture. The city is always moving, in a series of fleeting moments and magical surprises. Photos are easy to take here, and the monochrome format is also perfectly suited because the city is built with cream-grey limestone that refracts light differently at various times of the day.
Experience these many tones through the lens firsthand with Focus on Paris, which operates private black-and-white photography tours during the day and night, including Antique Paris, Middle Age Paris and The Light Century. It’s a unique way to appreciate the history of the city while receiving expert photographic advice.