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Welcome to Paris


Nothing says welcome to a new place quite like standing out. Similar to entering the wrong classroom during the middle of a lecture, or showing up late to a dinner party, entrances can occur seamlessly, or transpire horribly. For the most part, our arrival in Paris around 8 AM on Saturday was uneventful. We managed to apprehend the transportation system, purchase rail tickets, and set off for the Notre Dame in relatively little time. Then we hit the ground running (not literally), and immediately began our Parisian trip with a tour of the grand Notre Dame cathedral. We explored the stained glass and flying buttresses before we finally worked up an appetite. My two companions and I all agreed upon breakfast....crepes.

As it happened, we walked along searching for a cafe, when I saw a scene I wanted to photograph. Two members of the Paris police force were communicating with a man sitting on the curb. It seemed he was doing nothing wrong, merely sitting upon a purple suitcase with two small dogs for company. As I knelt down to take a photo, the man glared at me. Then he pointed at me. Then the police man and police woman glanced my direction. They beckoned me over. Everyone began to speak at me in French. Total language barrier. But from their tones, no one was too pleased. The man seemed to demand reparations for my photo, while the woman cop declared, "You have to ask for permission to take photos."

I stood dumbfounded. I barely knew how to move. My jaw probably just hung open. Do I pay the man for his photo? Do I delete the photo? Do I attempt to explain myself? The French man continued to point at me and tick off French sentences. Finally, the police man urged me to leave that place.

Prague had become comfortable, taking photos of strangers had become natural. Paris though, seemed as though it would be different. I was caught. All of my confidence in photography kind of disappeared for a moment. I ended up compensating for my fear by taking over 1700 photos over the weekend in Paris. 700 of which were crap, and overall, none of them really communicate anything. The trip served more as a tourist trip that anything. Thus, on that rather optimistic note, good morning and welcome to Paris.
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