Friday, July 1, 2011

Photos à la Famille

The Buren Columns.  I spent a long time here.
There are, to be sure, certain advantages to traveling alone.  You can see whatever you want, whenever you want, and if you are an art historian who wants to spend outrageous time in front of one painting, you can do so without enraging your companion.  You can also commit embarrassing cultural and language gaffes without an audience, which is nice.  You can get lost, whether pleasantly or unpleasantly, without either annoying or terrifying a traveling partner, and are free to pursue whatever avenue of exploration you like.  I find that I cannot walk from point a to point b without ducking into an interesting park(s), a church(s), or a shop(s), which could be quite frustrating for someone who really wants to get to point b without it taking an extra hour (or two).

There are, of course, many disadvantages to traveling alone, the majority of which I won’t delineate here.  The most significant, for me, must be that you find yourself walking along consistently wanting to point out interesting things to an absent companion.  I find that taking photographs is a satisfying substitute for this urge, so my photo albums, in addition to having pictures taken for myself--to record the trip, to remember where I was, to note something I found particularly compelling--also consist of photographs taken for assorted people in my life.

Mom-shot = plants.
There is what my sisters and I call the “Mom-shot.”  When Jackie and I visited Chicago, we consistently took photographs of each other in front of completely random gardens, flowers, and plants in order to replicate our mom’s own desire to have photographs in front of botanical sort of things.  When I go through my pictures, and find otherwise unremarkable pictures of flowers, and I can’t figure out why I would have recorded such a thing, I remember, oh yes, it’s a Mom-shot.

This is a Jack museum shot, not a dog shot.
When Jack and I go through museums together, she frequently amuses herself by picking out the most strange, grotesque, or odd pieces of art that she either loves or hates.  When I am by myself then, I am forced to guess at which art works would catch her eye.  My first trip to the Petit Palais has garnered what I am sure will soon become her new favorite sculptor:  Jean Carries.  Being around Jack has also made me attuned to two things that I would otherwise not notice:  bridal shops and dogs, which now punctuate my photographic account of the city.   For the record, I have taken a photo of every bridal shop in Paris I have walked by.  I have, so far, (mostly) avoided taking photos of people with interesting dogs, lest the French are not ok with being photographed by strange American tourists. So far I have spotted numerous Papillons, one Dogue de Bordeaux, one Bouvier des Flandres, and much to Jack’s excitement, one Border Terrier.  I admit--I took a creepy, stalky picture of the Bouvier, and tried to take a photo of the Border.  Ok--turns out, when I think people aren't watching, I will take creepy, stalky photos of dogs.  But it is Jack’s fault. 

Epic @ Pont Alexandre III.
For Becca, I gravitate towards things that might be considered “epic.”  Other words for it might be “dorky” or perhaps “geeky” (though I mean that in the best way possible.  Please see Psych, Season 5, Episode 3).  Such photos would include:  swords, ships, and advertisements for the Paris Comic-Con (its this weekend kids!!  Colin Morgan autograph, anyone??).

Nicole:  "I'll take that one, and that one, and that one...."
The most common Nicole shot will invariably consist of artistically crafted, decadent creations of sugar, chocolate, fondant, butter, and cream.  When I stood in line at Ladurée to buy my first Parisian macarons, I amused myself by taking photos of the various confections on display.   I have yet to find a guimauve (marshamallow) quite disgusting enough to record, but when I do, you know I’ll take a picture of it.

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