Regards Parisiens

Henry Freitag

May 3, 2024

In the Spring of 2022, the Swiss-based photographer wandered through the streets of Paris, inspired by the work of Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz.
Many famous photographers have taken on the challenge of prowling through the streets of the French capital. During a longer stay in the metropolis, Henry Freitag took the opportunity to capture fresh perspectives with his Leica M10-P and an Elmarit-M 28 f/2.8 Asph. “The thing that drives me to go out every day is curiosity about the unknown. It's just about walking through the streets with eyes wide open, so that you can react in the decisive moment,” Freitag explains, speaking of his series.

LFI: Street photography in Paris is a theme that has been widely covered. What moved you to give it a go?
Henry Freitag: In the Spring of 2022, I had the opportunity of spending 60 days in Paris. I had no daily or professional obligations – just taking pictures, and eating baguettes! I took advantage of this unique opportunity to concentrate fully on street photography. I wanted to see Paris today, through my own eyes. Driven by curiosity, I explored the streets of the city every day. My goal was to be in the right place at the right time, and to capture moments like my idols Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz managed to do.

What challenges does the city of Paris raise for a photographer? What did you notice, in particular; or what seemed to be “typical Paris”?
Parisians are very uncomplicated in front of the camera. I never had the feeling that I was bothering people. The busyness and the pace of Paris is very different, however; or rather, faster than my home town. It's similar to New York. Most people had to get from A to B quickly, and had very little interest in me. The noticeable thing, of course, is that people dress more elegantly.

How often did you manage to be in the right place at the right time, as happened with your idols?
It was amazingly frequent. But, that's hardly surprising when you invest a lot of time in something. On average, I spent six to eight hours a day out walking – preferably to places where there was lots of activity going on. Over time, I got to know the best spots. Sooner or later, I inevitably found myself in the right place at the right time.

Is photographing people harder or easier today - compared, for example, to the times of Winogrand or Meyerowitz?
My impression is that it's harder today. I suspect that people didn't use to think much about what a photographer did with the pictures. What's more, street photography wasn't a big thing back then. Nowadays, I have the impression that many people are distrustful at first. I would be exactly the same, if someone took a picture of me without asking. At the moment, I have a bit of a dilemma: on the one hand, I think it's important to take these pictures; on the other, the legal constraints don't make it easy for street photographers today.

You worked with a Leica M10-P, combined with a Leica Elmarit-M 28 f/2.8 Asph. What do you like about the system?
The M10-P with a 28mm lens was my dream camera for a long time. Over the decades, I've had the experience of working with a number of digital Ms. The thing I like in particular about the M10-P is its quiet shutter; its discretion puts it significantly apart from the M10. The 28mm focal length is ideal for my work; it covers my needs perfectly. An improvement would have been possible with today's 28mm Summicron. The advantages of M cameras for street photography are widely known. I find the option of working with zone focus has become indispensable.

What would you like the viewers to get from your pictures?
My pictures invite the viewer to see the world through my lens, as well as to experience the city of Paris in a multi-faceted light. They show not only the well-known features and touristic highlights, but also hidden corners, daily life and the unmistakable character that makes this city so unique. Each picture tells its own story, capturing fleeting moments and revealing details that might otherwise have been missed. My images reflect the dynamism and pulse of the city.
Carla Susanne Erdmann
EQUIPMENT: Leica M10-P with Elmarit-M 28 f/2.8 Asph

Henry Freitag+-

Henry Freitag_Portrait (c) Henry Freitag_230519HF0187-2
© Henry Freitag

Born in Rheinfelden (Baden, Germany) in 1993, the photographer has been working freelance as a wedding, corporate, business, architecture, advertising and industrial photographer, since 2012. He studied photography in Berlin and received his degree from the Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in 2017. Among other places, his pictures have been on display at Photobastei Zurich, Photo Schweiz and as part of the ELF graduation exhibition at the Ostkreuzschule in the former Jandorf department stores in down town Berlin. Freitag has self-published two books: Fitzcarraldo (2017) and New York is New York is New York (2017). He lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. More


Regards Parisiens

Henry Freitag