With borders opening up many wedding creatives are starting to think about travelling and taking photos in one of the most gorgeous cities in the world––Paris! As a photographer living and working in the city, here are my top 6 tips for adding Paris to your photography portfolio.
1. Pick a season
Paris is known for its difficult weather so picking the right season for your photoshoot is crucial, especially if you plan on having part or all of your shoot outdoors––and who wouldn’t with all of the magnificent architecture all around! While Paris in the spring sounds like the ideal time it’s also plagued by long periods of rain, cold temperatures, and windy afternoons. Personally, I prefer photoshoots in June and July, when chances of a clear, sunny day are higher, temperatures are warmer but the heatwaves haven’t started yet.
For photoshoots in the Fall and Winter, you’ll just have to keep in mind that the days will be very short, chilly, probably rainy and the trees will be bare. Luckily, Paris has amazing architecture that looks good all year long. You’ll be a bit more limited in terms of locations (no point in going to parks), but if you’re lucky enough to catch the soft winter sunlight, you’ll have beautiful photos!
2. Decide on your locations
Even if you’ll be outdoors, you’ll need to identify the locations for your shoot ahead of time. Paris is a busy city, even during the pandemic, so if you’re heading to a popular place like the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower, you’ll want to scout the location ahead of time. If it’s just you, a couple of models and an assistant, you’ll usually be able to shoot anywhere without any kind of special permit. If you’re bringing lights or are shooting in a park, you’ll have a harder time. My advice is to use natural light.
If you’re also planning on shooting indoors, it’s important to arrange everything with the venue ahead of time. Most hotels are open to collaborating on styled shoots, but if you want to use one of their suites or rooms with a view of the Eiffel Tower, you’ll have a better chance of getting them on board in the off-season (late fall, winter, early spring, and not during Fashion weeks). There aren't too many public places that will allow you to photograph indoors, but some private museums like the Musée Rodin, allow photography for a fee.
3. Bring the right outfits, accessories, and gear
You have a vision in mind for your photoshoot, and the more you can bring with you the better. I’m talking about outfits, shoes, flat lay accessories, etc. For photographers, this includes camera gear, adapters and converters. I find it much harder to source items in Paris than in North America, and they’re often much more expensive. Yes, there are some incredible antique market finds, but it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll find what you need when you need it. The only exception is wedding dresses, as there are many boutiques and designers that are happy to lend dresses for a shoot.
4. How to avoid all the crowds
Get up early, I mean really early. This ties into the previous point about choosing your locations and the season. Popular spots like the Louvre are packed pretty fast but if you go there in the summer just after sunrise, you’ll have the whole place to yourself.
5. Bringing the photos to life
Yes, you’ll want iconic backgrounds like the Louvre Pyramid and the Eiffel Tower in your photos, but don’t forget all the details that make this city what it is! Cobblestone streets, cafés with traditional chairs, chalkboard restaurant menus, flowers outside the florist shops, water fountains, ornate doors, intricate gates and architectural details give so much context and life to your photos.
It goes without saying that Paris is a city that’s meant to be enjoyed. Even if you don’t have time to visit many museums, art galleries or other attractions, take some time to savour a croissant and sip on a coffee on a terrace. Have a picnic along the Seine or just walk around the city admiring the architecture. Let the city inspire and delight you!