Raúl Cabrera’s advice: Find you own unique style of photographing Paris. (Photos and cinemagraphs: Raúl Cabrera)
Raúl Cabrera is a photographer from Caracas, Venezuela, living in Paris, France. He is also an architect, captivated by his adopted city’s Gothic and Beaux Arts buildings, constantly capturing candid and artfully staged streetscapes, while always paying attention to details like symmetry, shapes and colors.
“Paris is a combination of so many things, some obvious, like the architecture, old and new, but there are many other intangible and powerful factors at play,” Cabrera says. “Paris, as it is today, is essentially the culmination of hundreds of years of human presence, shaping, and being shaped by, the environment and events, local and global.”
Marriott TRAVELER asked Cabrera to show us this ever-changing Paris and he delivered these stunning cinemagraphs, along with a few tips for aspiring photographers and those that just want to capture a few moments in this classic city forever.
What is the story behind these images? Why did you want to capture these moments?
I wanted to show Paris as real as possible — the Paris of Parisians. With these images I wanted to transmit the feeling of living in one the most visited cities in the world, a couple of blocks away from the crowed areas, but also showing the monumental buildings you have to cross through every day that remind you of where you are…. A city that despite the fact that it is constantly evolving, never loses its spirit. There is no single thing that makes Paris what it is. It just simply could not exist anywhere else, and it has a character that cannot be replicated. That’s what makes Paris special.
What kind of camera (or camera phone) did you use to get the shot? What do you like about it?
To shoot these cinemagraphs, I used a Canon 7D and an iPhone 6s. I use the Canon for professional work because of the range of option that I can have. From the iPhone I like the impressive quality you can get for being such a small device but at the end it’s not the camera what matters, it’s the moment you capture.
What is your favorite arrondissement to photograph? To spend time in? Why?
It’s hard to pick just one. To spend time in, I think I prefer to go somewhere between the 3rd, 10th or 11th , you have plenty of options and it’s a young and dynamic area. To photograph, maybe I’ll choose the 4th, it’s classic old Paris.
Most photographers know that the golden hour, sunrise or sunset, is the best time to take a photo anywhere, but what is your favorite time of year to take pictures in Paris? Winter, spring, summer or fall?
Even though I don’t like cold weather, my two favorites seasons to photograph are autumn and winter. The light and the atmosphere are different and it makes Paris more photogenic. The city transforms completely and is like a huge movie set ready to be shot.
How do you find unique ways to photograph some of the most photographed sights in the world like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre?
Those two are very particular places, I guess no matter what you do when you take a picture there is probably someone who already did something similar. I stick to my own style as much as I can, sometimes I just choose a theme. In general, I try to make simple images, choosing the elements that I want to be part of the composition. If you find your own style and you apply it to every image you make, you will be doing different photos than the rest.
Is there a least photographed place in Paris, a hidden gem that you love?
Place Dauphine is one of my favorites places. It’s not the least photographed place in Paris, and despite being in the middle of the city, I always find it empty.
Where do you go in Paris to feel like a local? Do you have a favorite café, bar or park?
Parc des Buttes Chaumont is my favorite park in Paris. It’s not close to the center so it’s mostly visited by locals. I also like to hang out around the Canal St. Martin and up Marais. You can find really good restaurants,bars or cafes. Le Syndicat, Hero, Le Comptoir General, Le Mary Celeste and PNY are some of my favorites.
There are so many things that people think they know about Paris, but what is something few know?
Most of the French people I know have never been in the top of the Eiffel Tower, so If you don’t have time to visit it, don’t feel bad and visit the rest of the city like a real local. Also, I recently read a fact that says that there are more than 9,000 cafes in Paris and that it will take you 30 years to visit all of them, one every day. So, if you needed an excuse to come more often to Paris, there you have one.
What’s your favorite Paris photo story? Have you photographed something unexpected or someone unusual?
Last year, I was part of a small group invited by the Presidency of France to do a special visit and shoot inside Le Palais de l’Elysees, the official residence of the president, and a post an exhibit for Francois Hollande and Kevin Systrom, as part of Les Journées Europeen du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days) in France. That was a good experience for me, considering that I’m not French and it was my first year in Paris. Working as photographer, I’ve got to meet or shoot really interesting personalities like Alec Baldwin, Adrian Grenier, John Kerry and others.
What Instagram filter best represents Paris?
Maybe Valencia. It’s as classic as Paris.