April 2021. France was again in a state quarantine due to Covid 19’s third wave. We were restricted to an area of 10km around home plus a night curfew. From my teeny tiny flat, all I wanted was to get outside and go for a long escaping walk…
Fortunately, I live in Paris, and there is a lot of things to see, and neighborhoods to get lost in.
For all those “10km walks” during this quarantine time, I always grabbed my Minox 35ML. I got this camera from my Grand-pa; He gave it to me 3 or 4 years ago, as I was looking for a smaller camera than my usual and heavy SLRs. Well, I’ve been in love with this camera since that day, and I have it with me all the time! Mostly because this micro-camera, smaller than a cigaret pack, is so easy to carry on and so discreet when it comes to take street photographs.
During quarantine time, I would fill it with black and white films so I would be able to develop it quickly at home after my walks.
I usually don’t think to much about my photos before making them, I just shoot what I see, following the mood, the flow, looking at details, or landscapes. The Minox 35ML camera is a true help for those “in the moment” type of photos.
With a quick opening of the front door, I just need to evaluate the distance between me and the subject and then set focus by turning the distance ring and making it correspond to the small red mark. A shot is then taken by pressing the orange button on top. The rest is easily done with the program mode; automatic shutter speed and aperture. I rarely miss a photograph with this camera, and always get good quality rendering. Also, it doesn’t trigger if the front door is closed, so no pocket unwanted pics. Overall, it’s a really versatile, easy to use and such a lovely camera.
I called this series “Empty Paris” – I’d like to show you some of the results from a roll of Kentmere I shot.
Since first lockdown, March 2020, I enjoy a lot walking in an empty Paris. Alone with my camera, taking pictures of those quiet moments in this city that used to be full of people and noises. I’d go to famous and tourist hot spots that appeared empty and so peaceful during covid lockdown, and I shoot those places to remember that particular time.
One day, I decided to start from Jardin du Luxembourg. I love gardens and all natural places in cities. In Paris, those garden spaces are often full of people. During covid lockdown, there was this calm atmosphere. Not much sound, mostly Parisians walking and enjoying the new spring sun rays.
I set up my camera, and started shooting there.
This garden is a mix between large open areas, with benches and ponds, and lot of trees covered aisles where you’ll find cooler spots. I am never bothered by the changing light and contrast. This camera does the job without trouble. The settings are focus range are large enough to allow me to capture any scene.
I pause a minute on a bench, observing people, then continue my walk through Saint Germain’s neighborhood, then along the Seine next to the Louvres Museum. I love walking there. In the empty docks, I could feel the quietness of the city.
Few days later, I found myself in Montmartre neighborhood. It is not my favorite place in Paris, just because there is a lot of tourists and it is usually so crowded. But, during quarantine, it became completely empty, and I could look at it with a different perspective. Having this little camera in my pocket allowed me to shoot quickly and quietly.
I strolled in the tiny streets of Montmartre, grabbed typical Parisian views, architectures, as well as closed cafés.
That was the end of this roll. I developed and scanned it right after returning to my tiny flat. I am humbly happy with the results, a lot of the photos are really nice and sharp. It sure takes a time to get used to the way of shooting with this type of tiny camera, especially the focus by distance estimation… but once you get it, you can get great results!
This camera actually helped me a lot to be more comfortable shooting street photography. Since covid lockdowns, I always have it with me in a pocket and I am less shy capturing daily moments.
I hope to see a Paris with more activity soon. Though I still have these photos now to tell my grandchildren how it was in 2020-21…
You can find this series and my work on my Instagram account @angelefrt
Thanks to 35mmc for letting me share my experience. Hope you liked it.