Paris street photo, dog quest

Skateboarding in Nelson Mandela Park, Paris

Street photo in Paris Châtelet-Les Halles

Post-Covid canid

One day in June 2020, as I was crossing the Nelson Mandela garden, the former halles garden located between the Bourse du Commerce and the Forum des Halles in Paris, I discovered a large black tag depicting a dog on a wall.

A canine idea immediately popped into my head: try combining this big, comic-style pooch with a real dog to create an eight-legged score.

Serial canin 

Here I am, transformed into a dog-hunting paparazzi during 14 minutes of “stakeout”, during which, as always, the street never ceases to surprise me.

With a fixed idea in mind, all I have to do now is wait for chance to bring out this little animal, or something else good.

To make the black dog even more dominant in my composition and create a bit of drama, I know I’ll have to shoot from a low position.
Even so, I hesitate to lie down on the ground and finally decide to be more discreet.
Sitting on a bench, resting my camera on one knee, I’ll get a view from the height of a femur bone, slightly above the gutter, from a canine level.

A street photographer with flair?

It’s 2:34pm, no dog in sight, but the first human comes along.

On the phone in front of a large black tag depicting a dog

This black-clad silhouette makes me wonder: placed differently, I think I could have visually created…
yes, yes, why not a five-legged dog!

This first image gave rise to a new guiding idea that would haunt my brain for the next few minutes: capturing the moment when the big dog’s nose sniffed a human up close.

The tricky part will be getting the shot at the right moment, with only one opportunity per passer-by, so as to respect the ethics of real street photography, with its successes and failures, but without the need to shoot in bursts.

2:35 pm, nothing happens, or almost nothing, because space abhors a vacuum.

Triumvirate of pigeons in the public square at Châtelet-Les Halles

A triumvirate of city birds is busy cleaning up the public square, temporarily abandoned by humans.

14h36, Dark dog song

Passers-by dressed in black and white in front of a "Dark dog song" tag

The first attempt was a near miss, as my too-early shutter release, due to the fact that I use my smartphone as a remote control for my camera, hid the dog’s nose and muzzle, but gave a glimpse of his singing dog bubble.

At 2:37 p.m., Oh Oh, a croc-magnon woman appears at the end of the dog’s nose.

Woman with cro-magnon hair

A creature appeared, as if from a cave, with its stone-worn buttocks and long hair.
I waited for its silhouette to emerge at the end of the black muzzle and succeeded by a nose in this second sniffing attempt. 

14h39, while some are pecking away, I’m still as hungry as a wolf.

Parisian pigeon pecks at tagged dog

The solitude shared by a statuesque pigeon, a dog frozen in cement and a bench photographer organized but close to giving up?

Despite the threat of sunstroke, you have to keep your guard up.
In street photography, the unexpected and the little bird always come out in the end.

Hot dog attack

At 2:40 p.m., the first descendant of the long-awaited wolf bursts into my street photo scene.

Hot dog chasing a pigeon

The canine swoops in and tries to pluck the poor Parisian pigeon.

Accompanied by his master’s voice, he produces more than just music.

2.41pm, after the hubbub, a return to calm and a little more dignity

A dog and its owner at Nelson Mandela Park in Paris

Has my initial idea of a quirky double dog fallen a little flat?
You be the judge.

It’s certain that dog photography won’t become a passion, even if I could imagine making a series out of it.
Technically, I would have had to be positioned much closer to the dog to be able to create the distorted shot, with the false drop shadow, that I had in mind.

I’m now concentrating on the animal’s nose, with the aim of achieving at least one perfect sniff.

The dog sniffs

14h41, new black truffle recipe

Dog mural sniffing hair

I’ve finished my apprenticeship, and incidentally assimilated the Bluetooth remote trigger delay.

I’ll be able to enjoy sniffing the hair of passers-by, unless…
The arrival of the police doesn’t stop me?

The dog and the cops

14h41, between two cops, the inked dog fades away

2 armed policemen in front of a big dog painted on a wall

With the arrival of police armed to the fangs,
equipped with machine guns and tear gas canisters,
there was no question of the photographer surrendering,
or negotiation of image rights…

For these photos to be bloggable, I’ll have to pixelate their faces, dogcow-style

14h43, a policeman merges into the dog

Police officer behind a large dog tagged on a wall

Street photographers must take responsibility for their framing right to the end…

So I keep photographing for the funny story, the one I might be able to share one day.

14h43, the guard dog bites, but doesn’t surrender.

Dog tag drawn sniffing a real policeman

In less than 10 minutes, I became, like any good police dog, a real specialist in sniffing out human beings.

That’s all Folks!

Hit skate dog

At 2.44pm, a skateboarder dressed in black, with his head tilted to echo the dog’s ears, comes to give me the opportunity to put the finishing touches to my composition and graphically illustrate my black drawing with elegance.
I can finally free myself from the canine of my worries.

Street photo au forum des halles à Paris

2.48pm, just as I was packing up, a new dog popped out of the metro station, but it’s too late as I’ve already put the idea in the basket…

Two dogs in the Nelson Mandela garden in Paris

All is said and done

The images in this article are presented in their true chronological order.
This is a selection of 13 of the twenty or so photographs taken in 14 minutes.
The photo session was originally conceived entirely in black and white.

Other images not selected for this article:

Contact sheet of images of a wall tagged with a dog

Photographs and texts : Thierry Allard, all rights reserved.

Please respect copyright and do not use these images or extracts from the article without a link on this page and without first requesting permissiondemander l’autorisation auparavant.

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