Behind this shot : Girls in a tutu 4

The first thing that came to my mind when I post-processed this photo is The Smiths song : Vicar in a tutu. This photo was taken in front of the church where my sister got married 12 years ago for the record. It does not make me younger … I told myself that it would be nice to see a vicar in a tutu like the two little girls. It would make an original photo ! This song is taken from the album The Queen is Dead released in 1986. Yes definitely, it does not make me younger … Even though the album is full of more famous titles, I have always had a soft spot for this song. Morrissey’s waxing lyrical and Johnny Marr’s guitar are characteristic of this bygone era.



Let’s come back to this photo. For some time now, I tend to hang out a lot in the same places to take pictures. Because I know where there will be more people to do Street Photography. As I already told you, Saint-Denis is a big city, but in the end it’s never the big crowd in the streets. To be completely honest, at the end of the afternoon after kids leaving school, there are quite a few people going home. I even noticed that on Friday at the end of the afternoon, the streets came alive a little more. Surely the approach of the weekend !

This late afternoon, I had decided to go hang out on the seaside for a change. I walked past Saint-Denis Cathedral and saw this small group of people who were likely to attend a wedding. Moreover, given the current health circumstances, a marriage has a good chance of turning into a cluster of covid-19 … It has often happened to me to interfere in the middle of a wedding to take pictures. I like these situations because people are well dressed. In Aix-en-Provence every summer weekend, the town hall square in the city center saw dozens of weddings. It was quite fun trying to capture some interesting scenes. There were very few people outside here except for this small group of people.



I hesitated a bit. It’s easy to blend in with the crowd when it’s crowded. But there it was more complicated … But still, there were these little girls in tutus ! In the end, as you can imagine, it was stronger than me. I went there without knowing how I was going to go about successfully photographing these girls without being noticed. I just walked over to the small group. In the current situation, I had to climb the stairs to get to their level and it allowed me to be able to take a photo while being slightly lower than the little girls. This is important because if you don’t get up to their level by photographing them from above, you crush them and the picture is not very nice. I couldn’t afford to walk up next to these girls and get on my knees to take the picture. There I would have been unmasked and questioned in the best case and insulted in the worst case … The stairs allowed me to take the picture while being slightly lower, as if in the end I had knelt down. All this reflection, I had it by traversing the tens of meters which separated me from them. It’s always like that when I spot a situation from afar. I’m trying to figure out how to take the photo.



I quickly took a picture at the bottom of the stairs. I knew this photo wasn’t the one I wanted, but it’s like a reflex that prompts me to click in case I wasn’t going to get what I want afterwards. As much to say to you that it is strictly for nothing because the photo is of no interest. Just that will serve me to lament later on this lost opportunity. As I walked up the stairs, I was surprised to see this little group breaking up and having a cleaner scene with the two little girls in tutus looking at someone behind me. As a bonus I had a little gesture from one of the two girls. The photo was in the box and nobody noticed anything and yet this photo was not taken from the hip, but while aiming with the screen. I waited until the characters didn’t overlap to click.



I wondered if I wasn’t going to stay a bit to take more photos, but it forced me to go back down the stairs because the position of the sun dictated my position. It was too complicated and I was going to arouse suspicion and lose this moment. Very often with children you only have one chance to take pictures. Then you are quickly spotted and assimilated to a predator or pervert. It’s a shame because I love to take pictures of children in the street. They are unpredictable and always offer good photo opportunities. A person came out of the cathedral and I took this last photo.



I remain convinced that there was still potential here but sometimes you have to know when to leave. I got what I wanted. Was it necessary to go further at the risk of being exposed or even creating a potential confrontation ? These people were still there to share a moment of joy and celebration. No need to ruin this moment. So I left them. In the end, I did not go to the seaside. Next time !



You can see that in the end the photo was post-processed in Black & White. The colors in this precise case did not add anything to the photo. Monochrome allowed me to make these girls identical with their tutu. There was also already a white cast in this scene with the walls and pylons. The Black & White prevailed.

All photos were taken with the Ricoh GRD4.

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4 thoughts on “Behind this shot : Girls in a tutu

  • John Wilson

    Maybe it’s just me but in this political climate I refrain from taking photos of any kids unless it family or friends. You never know how people will react. I remember my grand daughters in their tutu’s, thanks for making me smile!

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      We’ve seen too many creepy stories involving kids. I know that it’s pretty difficult and our photography could be misunderstood but I also think that if we have to document the streets avoiding photographying kids (because of these stories), avoiding photographying pretty girls (because of Metoo), avoiding photographying two women or men kissing (because of LGBT) … I can keep on going like that … There’s no point for us to go out and shoot street. Censorship doesn’t do any good. I’m not hurting anyone with my camera. I can prove that I photograph people because I think that they are beautiful and alive ! I do think that as long that your intentions are clean, you don’t have to worry too much about that. Of course, as you said, I know that people could be annoyed, but I try to be as less intrusive and discreet as possible and if I’m busted, I’m ready to explain why I took the shot

  • John Harper

    Black and White for this photograph? Definitely. It’s delightful and I suspect their parents would appreciate the result. Always an awkward conversation though where children are involved and that’s a shame. My father loves children, he likes to joke with them. Nowadays my mother has to warn him not to and he hasn’t even got a camera!
    We’ve discussed this before, I was hesitant, but as you pointed out children are part of the Street and that’s what we’re documenting. Not sure a Vicar in a Tutu would be easy to photograph, if you did the tabloids would love it!
    Cheers Jeff, always a pleasure to see your work. I like the lady in red too (not the song, that’s bloody awful!)

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      And by the way. What is the definition of kids?at what age one can consider that we are “allowed” to take pictures of them? If it’s 18 or 21 years old. I prefer to give up on on street… The thing is that the population on Réunion Island is very young. We see a lot of people with young kids. The society has become very suspicious with everything related to kids. Me included. We try to over protect them from everything. I ‘m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I’m doing street and kids are part of what I see on the streets. It’s like homeless. I’ m not focusing on them but I happen to photograph them in my sceneries. Anyway like everybody I take pictures of, I never photograph them in degrading situations.
      This debate is endless and everyone has his opinion on it and has reasonable good reason to restrain themselves. If I take exemples of great street photographers or documentary photographers, it would have been a big loss not to have their pictures with kids in it