Off the beaten tracks ! 2

Since I take pictures in the streets of Saint-Denis, I almost always hang out in the same place. I tirelessly walk the Maréchal Leclerc street. I can almost say that over 75% of my photos are taken on this major thoroughfare that crosses the city. It is the largest shopping street in Saint-Denis. To be honest, it is not very beautiful. The facades of the stores are not very attractive. But it’s a street that attracts a lot of people. A few stands along this street occasionally attract people and offer some interesting opportunities.



The lower part of the street is much more popular. And the further down the street, the rarer the stores. Fewer people also hanging around there. We arrive at small bars of buildings where whole families are piled up, mainly from the Comoros Islands. These families are quite poor and the buildings are in poor condition. It feels like it’s a ghetto. It’s clearly not the kind of place to hang out at night. In the middle of the day, as there is a bit of traffic, I don’t think there are any problems. A few years ago, the area was badly known and many trafficking of all kinds took place there. This may still be the case because when you pass in front of buildings with lookout chairs at the entrance …



To hang around there a bit, not much happens, but sometimes you come across interesting situations. It’s still worth the walk the few hundred meters. Very often I come back without any photos of my little trip here, but it’s worth going because it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and let yourself be carried away by the unknown. If I was looking for the result, I will continue to hang out on the upper part of Maréchal Leclerc street. It’s a shopping street, it’s teeming with people. I have already spotted places where I am pretty sure I will get street shots. It’s a bit like when I was operating in Aix-en-Provence. By dint of frequenting the city, you end up knowing the flows and you know where to go to find interesting things.



But I think it’s also important to go explore new places or force myself to change routes when wandering around the city. Avoid always having the same routine. And God knows I’m attached to routines! I know very well that the situations will never be the same and that what is important are the people and not the places. I hammered it enough in my Blogs, but the routine is much more important in my behavior. For example, I very often take pictures just before picking up my children from school. Always frequenting the same places is also routine, but in this case, we create a comfort zone because we know that we will have results by staying within the perimeter that we have assigned.



I realized that every time I went anywhere other than rue Maréchal Leclerc, I came back with some really interesting photos. It’s very simple, going elsewhere, I don’t know what to expect. I look at things differently and let myself be surprised. My eyes are wide open. It is true that there are fewer people because these are often streets that are far from the main artery, but it is worth allowing yourself to be carried away by the unknown. It’s the fun of the streets, letting yourself be carried away and witnessing scenes that you could have captured nowhere else.



All the photos were taken with the Fujifilm XF10 and of course none of them were made on rue Maréchal Leclerc …

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2 thoughts on “Off the beaten tracks !

  • John Harper

    There’s an English term for this: “Off the beaten track”. Which is to say: away from the well trodden path. If you were on holiday, staying in a house in the middle of nowhere then that phrase could be used, or equally if you wander off the main route or road anywhere. Which actually sums it up, you wander off and it’s like a little holiday from the normal routine. We all know holidays are good for you. So yes, see things differently from a photographic perspective. I have tried this, usually though there are so few people around that I give up. Also tried in other cities, Vegas for example. The problem there becomes one of safety once you wander too many blocks away from the main hub of downtown. My friend often says, and I agree with him, that as long as there are people about you’re pretty safe anywhere in the world, it’s when there aren’t any you need to be concerned. Plus you have something to photograph!

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Thanks ! The title has been amended !
      Most of the time I stay the same place, because I don’t want to go elsewhere or because I don’t have the time to go roaming in different places. But each time I took the opportunity to visit new places, I reckon that I was happy to see with fresh eyes news territories. The main problem as you mentionned is that most of the time, these places see little people. But it’s an opportunity to work differently with more patience and less people in the frame. There are a few places here in the city where safety could be a problem. Not that I could be assaulted, but juts the fact of photographying could be misunderstood and could take you to strong confrontation. But I think that I will give it a try, just to get me off my comfort zone !