Archive for June, 2012
Before I start this post I have a confession to make: I don’t know how to cook.
Do you find it shocking? Not really. For someone who was born into a family where the men love to cook and even do it better than the women, my lacking in cooking skills is quite understandable. In fact, I am quite lucky to be surrounded with men who know how to cook, do it well and actually love doing it. Most of the guys I’ve dated belong to that category. The truth need to be told that I might be creative in other rooms in my apartment, but I am not creative in the kitchen.
Therefore, I was quite excited to take part in a real authentic French cooking class while visiting Paris early June. Cook’n with Class is the name of this fine school, located in 21, rue Custine in Montmartre. I am a true believer that Once in Paris, act and cook like Parisians do, I have joined a Morning Market class, which took place in one of Montmartre’s outdoors markets, in order to shop for the meal’s ingredients first and then learn how to cook them. We met with the wonderful super nice chef, Constance, who was extremely patient and answered every question we asked. She took us to various vendors in which we could find top quality products such as cheese, bread, fruit and meat. The local merchants were actually quite familiar with the school’s activity and were willing to answer our questions. Constance explained us on how to choose cheese, what is considered a good cheese and how to match its kind with other ingredients of the meal, for example. After that we walked to the school, where aprons, chopping boards and chef’s knives were waiting for us, ready to be used. We learned how to cook from scratch a starter, main course and even a dessert. It was all very inspiring! In the room next door, there was a baking class in progress and I could only hoped I had extra time in Paris so I could attend this class too. I have counted at least three people who got inside the school just to inhale the warm sweet smell of the buttery brioche.
Since it was a rainy day in Paris, especially quite unusual for June, Constance suggested we cook something with Spring seasoned vegetables such as potatoes, chanterelle mushrooms in a chicken stock. We also cooked meat with potatoes and pears (perfect for the weather) and the highlight (at least for me) was the fruit tart with roasted apples and caramel salted butter. And in case you missed something or want to try it at home, or maybe try something that was taught in a different class, I highly recommend to check the recipes section on line.
At the end of the hands-on cooking session, we sat down around the dining table (we could also invite a guest for lunch) and enjoyed the four-course meal. Everything was accompanied with various kinds of cheese we bought previously and wine. together with a fine selection of cheeses from the market and some great wine. The school has a quite busy schedule, diverse classes and an international staff of chefs, all speak English very fluent.
I don’t remember when was the last time I was almost four to five hours straight in the kitchen, but I was so intrigued and interested in the French ways of cooking that I didn’t even noticed the time.
It was one of my best experiences in Paris. In fact, I was quite surprised by myself as I usually lose track or anything. This cooking class was something quite a complimentary to all my Parisian experiences this visit.
I often wonder what do people think about me when they see the title ‘Travel Photographer’ next to my name. People tend to think I’ve been running this jetset kind of life (sometimes it is true), living on suitcases (sometimes it takes me more than a week to unpack, just because I’m so busy with other things) or working for National Geographic (not yet). I must admit I had the same thoughts when I saw these two words next to Tracy Zhang‘s name.
Tracy commented on one of my posts few weeks ago, when I was featured in Dabble Magazine, and I got curious about her. I checked out her beautiful website and was so impressed by the number of places she has visited and shot. Some of them are on my ‘to-go’ list as well; Shanghai or Cuba to name a few. The more I looked into her website and blog, the more I got curious. And then I realized she is only 21! What a great portfolio for such a young age. I can’t even start to imagine where she few years from now! I can only say ‘World, Hold On!’ and see what Tracy has to offer.
Tracy is currently Traveling in North Europe. I managed to get hold of her to share some of her information and photographs while she was sitting in a cozy coffee-bar in Copenhagen on the canal. (Yes, can be the life of a Travel photographer). I’m really excited to feature Tracy today and I hope you enjoy same as I did.
Where are you from? I was born in Beijing China and lived there for 11 years before moving to Vancouver Canada with my parents. Sometimes I tell people I’m from Vancouver and other times I say I’m from Beijing. I have a Canadian passport but my roots are in Asia. Both places are unique and beautiful in their own right, and I consider both home.
Where did you study photography? I didn’t study photography in college or university. When I was in high school, I took a film photography course because I needed an Arts credit to graduate and I had heard that the teacher who taught the class gave very little homework. But that course was the pivotal point for me. Through it, I learned to develop my own negatives and positives, and became really interested in photography. I have been completely self-taught since.
What made you want to learn it? At the time, the film photography course at my school was the last one my high school ever taught, everything shifted to digital photography the year after. I took the course on a whim because I thought it would be an easy class, but I became hooked on photography because I loved being in the dark room. I used to spend hours in there, hunched over the enlarger and standing over the chemical trays. I was fascinated by the way the photographs would appear, almost out of nowhere, on the photo paper.
If you weren’t a photographer what would you do? I’ve always wanted to work in advertising and make creative and memorable ads, the kind they play in the Super Bowl and gets people talking. Well, I might still have time to change careers!
Where do you get your inspiration from? The places I travel to inspire me. Every destination is different, with its own mix of culture, food, and people. I try to open up all my senses to really soak up the essence of every place and incorporate that into my photographs.
How do you usually approach a new project? My projects are usually location-based; I start with my own emotions and thoughts toward the place. This usually happens at my hotel room or in a local coffee shop. I need solitude for this. I think about how I feel about my destination, usually writing a few words down to remind myself. These words then become the central theme of that project and my starting point.
What are you working on right now? Prior to this year, I was still shooting portraits and fashion. Since I transitioned into travel photography exclusively only earlier this year, I’m working on getting more of my travel photography work seen, which involves traveling a lot and then finding time in between to edit my work and get it out to editors. I just spent a month traveling through China and I’m making my way through Scandinavia right now. I’ll be working on getting more work from these trips out to publications in the coming months.
Window or Aisle? Window, always. You never know what might be out there.
There is a big difference between visiting a place as a tourist and visiting a place, but feel like a real local there; feel like you are at home. This is mainly the reason why I prefer staying in a real local apartment and not in a hotel, as fancy as the later can be when I am traveling. (and I travel quite often). I’ve been to Paris a few times recently but in my latest visit I really felt like home there. Maybe because I can already find my way around in the Metro, I already recognize streets and locations, but it may also be because I stayed in one of the great apartments of Feels like Home in Paris, Fleur du Petit Thouars, to be more exact. I’ve heard about the company through a local friend who was following my Paris’s photos, and the company’s motto Hotels give you a Room, We give you a Home, really hit what I was looking for.
Beside the fact that the apartment is located in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Paris in the Northern Marais (NoMa) it is also located in a street named after a well known vineyard, Chateau du Petit Thouars. Where else in the world could I live in a street with a name like that? Here is more information about it from FLHP’s blog. Not to mention that a bottle of wine from the winery was awaiting for me when I stepped into the apartment! I loved it from the first moment! On a side note; the apartment has great big windows overlooking the inside court yard of the building, and the view of Parisian rooftops was a perfect view for me when I was sipping my morning coffee, sitting on the roof.
Staying at the Northern Marais, which is a bit quieter than the Marais area itself, but still, buzzing with so many cafes, boutiques and galleries, was ideal. I think it is the equivalent to what Nolita in Manhattan used to be when it was just ‘re-discovered’ a few years ago; Hype, Fashionable, Trendy and the place to be seen. I loved walking around this vibrant neighborhood and photograph its different characters; from the Jewish crowd rushing in or out from one of the synagogues in the area around rue des Rosier, or the Gay crowd who was filling the streets with vivid colors.
I shopped for local cheese at Le Marché des Enfants Rouge, the oldest food market in Paris (1615) which has a great variety of local food and some side tables where people can eat, and I walked to the well-known Du Pain et Des Idées Boulangerie, mainly for the L’escargot chocolat pistache. (Thanks Anne!)
I did my morning runs along the La Promenade Plantée thanks to a personal recommendation from Yetunde Oshodi, the owner of Feels Like Home in Paris. This made me even feel even more like a local in Paris, as it seemed to be a hidden gem off the beaten track. And even though I was trying to avoid the touristic destinations, I could easily walk to Hotel de Ville, cross Pont Louis-Philippe, then Pont Saint-Louis just to buy an ice cream at Ile de La Cite and from there to walk to Saint Germain. For someone who is always looking for the less touristic spots and for the less traveled paths, this new location and experience really worked out.
But wait, there is more! Feels Like Home in Paris has 17 properties. Most of them are located in the Montmartre, but also in the 9th, 10th and the 3rd (where I stayed). Rest assured to have a Welcome basket upon arrival including wine, coffee, tea and lots more, Wireless connection, Mac computer, unlimited phone calls to the US (was really useful for my work matters) and up to 50% off French cooking classes at one of the great schools in Montmartre, Cook’n With Class. (Delicious post is coming soon)
I’m not sure when will my next visit be, (Life can be so unplanned most of the time) but one thing I am sure of; I will feel like Home in Paris.
I’ve always wanted to follow a Street Artist. I mean, I follow quite a lot of them with my camera. Or when they come to New York, I do my best to follow them or even meet them, as it happened to me with Mr. Brainwash, JR, Shepard Fairey and Mr. Andre only recently. I’ve always wanted to follow a Street Artist in REAL time, when he sprays, pastes, colors or glues his Art on the walls.
I’ve been following Fred Le Chevalier for a few months now. I took a random picture of one of his characters in a previous visit to Paris and since then I got hooked. I started following him on his facebook page, just to realize how active he is and how the characters which he pastes on the walls of Paris (and recently Berlin) are cute and quirky at the same time. So I was very happy when Fred has agreed that I join him in one of his walks in Paris one afternoon of early June.
Here are a few facts about Fred Le Chevalier that you didn’t know:
* Le Chevalier is not his real name. It is just a nick name which means ‘The Knight’ in French
* He has a completely different day job than what people might expect of a Street Artist
* He adds poetry to his characters and glues it as a signature with his name
* He pastes his characters during day time
* He started drawing six years ago but he has been sticking and pasting the characters on the walls, only for the last three years
* He started drawing bigger characters in September 2011 and since then more people are noticing and discovering him (before that he was drawing smaller characters)
* His first exhibit was in March 2012 in a cafe in Paris where he invited most of his friends
* He claims to have two different lives
* He draws new characters every day but pastes them on walls only three times a week or when he has time
* He sees a wall and decides on the spot if he likes it or not
* He has a few favorite walls to put his Art on: Namely in Montmartre, and in Rue Saint Merri around Centre Pompidou
* Some characters he draws are based on people he knows (I’m still waiting to see a character with a camera)
* He sometimes tries to paste the character close to where his friends live, as a personal present
Thanks Fred for having me around!
I was watching quite a lot of French movies recently. Was it because a conversation I had with one of my friends, as we were both evaluating the pros and cons of the French or was it due to the the fact that French movies are quite realistic and don’t necessarily have clear cut endings. One of the movies I watched the other day on my laptop was Paris. (I highly recommend to watch this trailer to understand what I am talking about)
The movie is about a young guy who is waiting for a heart transplant which may or may not save his life, and since he has nothing else to do but wait, he started looking at the people around him from the balcony of his Paris apartment. While I was sitting in my New Yorkish apartment watching this movie, I kept pausing on the scene where the guy was looking at other people’s apartments from his window. It fascinated me, maybe because whereever I travel, I keep wondering how does it feel for the people who REALLY live in that place. How do their lives look like.
So when I stayed in a real Parisian apartment in my last visit to Paris, I could swear I was seeing almost the same view the guy from the movie saw from his window, or even a better view…
What is it in these apartments’ views that makes us so curious about the lives of others?
For three days and three nights in a row, I woke up and fell asleep to these views from the kitchen’s window and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur views from the bedroom’s windows.
If I didn’t have work to do or meetings to attend, I would stay all day at the apartment, watching the breathtaking views from the windows, or just staring outside. However, I set my camera for that, and took some pictures at different times of the day and night.
Merci beaucoup PerfectlyParis for allowing me to see Paris from a different angle this time!
I will come back in a heartbeat.
What a nice surprise to come back home after a week in Paris and get a Birthday gift in the mail from one of my friends. I guess some of my friends know me too well! My friend has ordered it in Amazon way before she knew I would actually be in Paris. I’ve been actually planning to buy this book awhile ago, after following its author, Nicole Robertson, from the blog Little Brown Pen.
So now I am unpacking my Parisian suitcase, putting away my new Les petites Parisiennes shoes, my new favorite perfume from Jovoy Paris, making myself a cup of coffee and slowly getting back to my New York’s routine.
Thanks Merav for the book!
Having the feeling of ‘Feels like home in Paris‘, living in a street that has the same name of a wine. Drinking my morning coffee on a typical French rooftop. Le Marais as the back yard, North of Le Marais as the hood. Getting off the Republique metro station or walking to Temple. Walking in a Parisian rain with no umbrella. Two chocolate mouse as a breakfast. Cute street names as Square Clignancourt, Rue Daru, or metro stop Poissionniere, just for the heck of saying it. Photography walk with local photographers, Birthday dinner with friends in a local place. Chocolate cake all for myself, Bon Anniversaire, Joyeux Anniversaire and a Happy Birthday song in French. Le Baron club. Miss “Queen Misterio” mask, original Photography prints rolled in two tubes. A 5-wine and cheese courses in one evening, Lunch in Collette. Having a private tour with Fred Le Chevalier the Street artist. Waking up to the view of the Sacre Coeur every morning and going to sleep with the same sight. Sundown around 10 in the evening, Sunrise even before 6. New friends, old friends, a friend’s photography exhibit at Village Royal. Buying cheese at Le Marche des Enfants Rouges, getting bread at Du Pain et des Idees and having lunch on a bench in Canal St. Martin with Anne Ditmeyer of Pret a Voyager. Teaching my sister the art of the dyptich, running into a private party in the middle of the day. Counting baguettes on a Sunday. Jam and Cheese in one spoon. Pink Ballerina shoes at Les Petites Parisiennes, Meeting Lindsey of Lost in Cheeseland. Merci Merci. H&M, Mama Shelter Hotel. Poiray rare perfume, Godiva Chocolate as a starter. My favorite cheese gorgonzola mascarpone. Running up in the streets of Montmartre, running down toward Pigalle or Jules Joffrin. Cooking class and a morning Parisian market. The smell of chocolate croissants in the morning. Recognizing some streets, finding my way around and having my sister with me on my Birthday…Priceless!
“If you fail the first time, consider yourself normal. if you fail a second time, consider yourself special for you have what it takes to succeed. If you fail a third time, consider yourself extraordinary, for many people would have already given up”
Montmartre, Paris April 2011
I couldn’t think of a better timing to post these words, as I am currently spending my last few days in the Montmartre in Paris. This picture was taken over a year ago on a weekend afternoon when the area was packed with people, mostly tourists and yet, the images and the words are still so relevant.
I was visiting Paris for few days last April and my friend took me to this area as he knew I would love the view. But not only did I LOVED the view, but also this amazing Street performer, Iya Traore, who is known as the soccer player of the Montmartre and is doing these courageous acrobatic moves while standing on a ledge, overlooking Paris. His performance was quite extreme and I was amazed by his energy and fearlessness. And yesterday, while I was running my morning run all the way to the Sacre -Coeur just to overlook the city and do my stretches, this guy’s presence was missing. And all I could think of was how far can someone go and how extraordinary he could be if he follows his courage.
I know Juliette for over a year now.
We first met in a Food Photography’s weekend class at ICP. I think we both had the same camera (Nikon D90) and we worked together on some assignments. Since then we made it as a habit to meet each other once in a while, ALWAYS in a Le Pain Quotidien somewhere in the city (I think we almost covered all the branches in NY) and catch up about our recent or up-coming travels plans or the photography projects we both have in line. (yes, these images of mine were taken by Juliette during one of our Summer Session over a drink in the Lower East Side)
I think it was because of Juliette that I got the courage to travel by myself to Vietnam, as Juliette used to live in Hanoi few years ago. And maybe she got the idea to visit Tokyo because of my recent trip there. In any case, I find Juliette a vibrant photographer who is passionate about travel as much as I do. For my column Window or Aisle, Juliette chose to focus on Black and White portraits; ‘I thought it would add a B&W touch to your blog -haha!- and also thought it would be nice to show that travel photography is also about portraits and how you can travel even in your own neighborhood’ she wrote me, and I couldn’t agree more.
As I write these words I happen to be in Paris, waiting for Juliette’s first exhibit to kick in. The exhibit ‘NY Figures’ will be showing on June 14 till July 28 in Le Village Royal. If you happen to be in Paris on that time, don’t miss Juliette’s exhibition.
Where are you from? I am a French photographer. I grew up in France and I now live in New York.
Where did you study photography ? Like a lot of photographers I guess, I learned the fundamentals of photography from my father. I studied journalism and in 2001, I traveled to Beirut and perfected my skills at the news agency AFP’s photo service. This is where I learned how to shoot digital. Since I moved to New York, more than 7 years ago, I have been involved with the International Center of Photography, first as a student and now as a Teachers’ Assistant.
What made you want to learn it? I have always wanted to catch and frame certain moments, faces, looks and situations. It’s when I traveled to the US for the first time as a teenager, that I first realized that photography could allow me to take a step back and a certain distance with reality. By taking a picture I could literally ”freeze” my surroundings.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you do? I would be a wine maker and oenologist, maybe in the South of France or in Italy. I LOVE wine!
Where do you get your inspiration from? I get my inspiration from the places I travel to. Different people, atmospheres, lights, streets, landscapes, architecture, that make each place unique. That’s what I try to capture.
How do you usually approach a new project? For me, the usual approach is to look at my environment with wonderment and to let me get “surprised” by a subject, a situation, an idea. Then I start working from there.
What are you working on right now? I am completing a series called ‘Faces of the Lower East Side’. It’s a series of portraits I started to shoot last summer in my neighborhood, the lower east side of manhattan. I have been leaving in this neighborhood for 7 years and have been witnessing the recent evolution of the neighborhood. Gentrification is slowly forcing out low-income families of all ethnic backgrounds. One day I realized that the deli down my building was closed and that I won’t see the Pakistani owner and his nice face any more. That is when I decided to start this series, in order to document my neighbors, the people who live on my block, in my street, who are the faces of the Lower East Side. Taking these pictures make me travel in my own neighborhood. It is a journey through places and time: people from Cuba, Porto Rico, Jewish people, Chinese, young hipsters…
Window or Aisle? Window definitely! I want to see what is going on down under. But you don’t want to seat next to me as I will constantly go back and forth, I can not seat still in a plane! I am too impatient and cannot wait to arrive to the next place.
“No matter how serious life gets, you still gotta have that one person you can be completely stupid with…”
Île de la Cité, Paris June 2012
I was walking in the streets of Paris for hours yesterday with my sister. She came from Tel Aviv and I came from New York to celebrate my Birthday here, in Paris. It was quite a last-minute-plan that worked out very well like a last-minute-plan can work out. My sister hasn’t been to Paris for a while and I am here for a shoot (and I don’t need an excuse to go to Paris) so the timing was perfect for both of us.
Talking about timing. Today I am celebrating my Birthday. And I think the sentence attached to this image, describes very well the essence of an Age. or Aging. or an Attitude towards life. Being able to laugh at yourself from time to time or allowing yourself to be silly or stupid, can be a great thing.
Talking about timing. What makes a photograph to a good one, is timing as well. We were walking in the area of Île de la Cité, right about to cross to the Notre Dame de Paris, when we saw this clown with the aquarium on his head. I wasn’t really impressed or paying attention as I saw him already in my previous visit to Paris but my sister got quite curious so she stood there to look at him.
When I turned my head back to call my sister to join me, I saw this kid. The way these two were interacting was amazingly funny, naive and so….pure. I couldn’t help myself and I took these pictures.