Photography enthusiasts will find plenty of things to do in Paris, from visiting top-notch exhibitions and going backstage at legendary photo studios to attending photography-focused special events and setting off on a photo walk armed with professional camera equipment.
Must-sees for photography fans
Photography fans are spoilt for choice in Paris, which has any number of galleries to visit – starting with the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. This venue hosts many exhibitions all year round: solo shows devoted to big-name photographers as well as retrospectives covering key movements in international photography. The Jeu de Paume in the heart of the Jardin des Tuileries, which displays works by famous 20th- and 21st-century photographers from around the world, is another must-see for any photography enthusiast.
Le BAL, a former dance hall transformed into a venue devoted to contemporary photography, displays images by a cross-section of photographers. Talks and debates on photography-related themes are also organized in this exhibition space. At the Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau, visitors can admire temporary exhibitions of work by both professional and amateur photographers, with a focus on humanist photography.
Several places also host open-air exhibitions, such as the Hôtel de Ville and the Jardin du Luxembourg. There are free photo exhibitions on the iron railings, and the display is changed twice a year. The initiative was launched in 2000 with ‘La Terre vue du ciel’, a series of superb aerial photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and the temporary exhibitions have since become a regular feature, turning the gardens into a veritable open-air museum.
The legendary Studio Harcourt also welcomes visitors. Internationally renowned for its black and white portraits of stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali and Jean-Paul Gaultier, the studio is popular with photography fans, who are free to wander the corridors of this famous venue and browse the archives to admire the originals of the best-known portraits.
Major photography events in Paris
November is photography month in Paris, with a wide range of special events held in various parts of the city. The Salon de la Photo takes place at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in the early part of the month. This must-see photography show brings together the medium’s key players: galleries, artists, masterclass organizers and photographic equipment manufacturers. During the Paris Photo event, the Grand Palais turns into a vast photography gallery. The programme includes conversation cycles, giving keen photographers an opportunity to present their visions and practices. A simultaneous event, Fotofever at the Carrousel du Louvre, displays images by 250 emerging artists from 20 different countries, and is an excellent opportunity for beginners to start a photography collection.
The PhotoSaintGermain festival is held throughout the month of November, with a trail of events in various cultural venues on the Left Bank. And, every two years, the Biennal of contemporary Arab world photography, held simultaneously in eight different Parisian venues, places the spotlight on contemporary photography in this part of the world.
However, there is a year-round focus on photography in Paris, not just in November. The Circulation(s) festival, held in the spring, highlights the work of 50 young European artists, while Paris art galleries host a number of photography exhibitions throughout the year.
Guided tours with a photographer
For those wishing to explore the city while taking pictures, Parisians Clichés organizes guided tours complete with professional camera equipment that you can use to get some really great shots of the French capital. For an elegant Parisian shooting photo, you need to contact the Photo Up agency. On a Instant Tours tour, take pictures with a Polaroid during your visit in Paris. Why not give it a try?