Dorothea Lange, This farm youngster and members of her family await evacuation bus. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration. Centerville, California, 1942

“my mother was Parisian and I’ve been a great admirer of the photographers who worked in Paris: Atget, Kertész, Brassai, Cartier-Bresson. Because of all the photographers who have photographed in Paris, the subject has become a kind of genre, in the way that the Western is a genre.“

– interview with Mark Steinmetz by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa when “Paris in My Time” was published.

Taking my copy down off the shelf, it’s a large, beautiful book of not that many photographs (otherwise known as the perfect amount). You can see many of them on Steinmetz’s site. The quote above illustrates the central aspect of the book – Steinmetz does not shy away from the genre and its clichés. Eggleston’s Paris book from a few years earlier was concerned with fragments of color on the street, very little was obvious, it’s difficult to place exact locations. Steinmetz offers couples kissing, a Tour Eiffel shot, many photographs in the famous parks. He’s not scared of Doisneau. And this is what visiting is like the first time, you actually see couples pass by with fragrant baguettes tearing pieces off, in a competition. And they’re laughing and well-dressed. American couples? We’ll always have Chipotle. 

In Steinmetz’s work the blue notes are quite subtle. The Parisian children are a bit melancholy, the men are a little off. A girl is showing off her attractive dog on the beautiful pink cover of the book, while inside, what seems to be the same dog, is peeing.