Jure Kravanja has already been featured at PTR giving us a fabulous article about Iceland. Here he tells us about a location that couldn’t be more different and shows his versatility and ability to see things many would overlook.
La Défense is a major business district in the city of Paris, bordering Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of the city itself. The district is at the westernmost extremity of Paris’ 10 km long Historical Axis, which starts at the Louvre in Central Paris and continues along the Champs-Élysées, well beyond the Arc de Triomphe before culminating at La Défense.
The district holds many of the Paris’s tallest high-rises and is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district.
Claire: This location is far removed from the subject of your previous article. Most people visiting Paris would have headed to the tourist areas rather than the business district. What drew you here?
Jure: I won’t tell you anything new if I say that Paris is a unique city. Each and every street has its splendor. However, what I am trying to seek in an urban photography is the feeling of loneliness. In my opinion, the encompassing loneliness brings out the best of the cityscape photography, especially if the architecture is more on a minimalist side. This is indeed the case with La Défense. Large squares with little detail are surrounded by glassed business and administration buildings with almost geometrical shapes, making it an ideal setting for the sense of loneliness.
Claire: You have managed to capture the lines and reflections beautifully but also isolated solitary figures, which is very successful. Did you shoot at a particular time of the day when the city is quieter or did you just wait for these opportunities to arrive?
Jure: The relationship between a lone human figure and its minimalist surroundings was indeed the principal subject I’ve tried to capture. The squares in the La Défense area are usually almost empty – one gets an impression that they are some kind of theatrical or dance stages on which those solitary figures perform. I didn’t have to wait long for these situations to occur, as the area gets crowded only in the lunch time.
Claire: The romantics talk about being in Paris for spring. It looks like you were here in autumn, do you think the seasons matter for this type of photography and were there any challenges relating to light?
Jure: Obviously, the cityscape itself barely changes through the seasons. There are some details, such as trees: the reach texture of their autumn crowns gives a nice contrast to the monochromatic and sometimes dull building surfaces. But the light I think is of crucial importance. Autumn light, being more mellow and warm, softens the edges and prevents stark reflections on glassed buildings, which would have occurred had I taken the pictures in summertime.
Claire: Do you have any tips for photographers wanting to shoot cityscapes?
Jure: I think that urban photography is filled with clichés. One can always get a good photo with a figure against a billboard, or a wide-angled shot of a main square, or a crowded street. In my opinion, it is important to try to get rid of this clichés, even at the price of a occasional blunder . Cities offer endless opportunities not only to entrepreneurs, but to photographers as well.
Claire: What camera are you using and which lenses would you recommend for such a shoot?
Jure: I’ve used Nikon D3 and Nikkor 24-70mm lenses. I think they’re fairly appropriate for this kind of photography.