This theme was inspired by the Charles Marville photography exhibition we saw at the Met Museum on our recent trip to New York. It's hard to take a bad photo of Old Paris, but I really like Marville's work because it's not just shots of everyday life, but of everyday objects. One of his main commissions, which earned him the title "Photographer of Paris," was to document the public works projects throughout the city in the mid-nineteenth century implemented by Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the chief urban planner. According to the exhibition description, that included twenty thousand new gas lamps, making Paris the City of Light.
After seeing that exhibition, and the array of beautiful photos of basic things we walk past every day, I had the idea to make streetlights one of my themes. It certainly made me pay much more attention to the lampposts around Boston, which surprisingly are fairly uniform throughout the city. The main challenge was keeping every photo from being shot from below and also trying to make each one a different style of streetlight. But at least the subject matter was everywhere, and it gave me a good excuse to head to some new neighborhoods.
There was a great quote on one of the Met gallery labels about Eugène Atget, a contemporary of Marville. Atget had an "unwavering belief in the power of the medium [of photography] to describe meaning through careful attention to things as they are." He rarely photographed people and instead focused on the streets and parks that served as "the cultural stage." It is a perfect reminder that the subjects I often prefer - streets, buildings, architectural features - can still have life and interest in them.