If you’re a human being, the thought ‘Hmmm, it must be nice to have a photoshoot in Paris’ must have crossed your mind at some point in your life. If you’re an Instagramer or a blogger you’ve certainly entertained this idea seriously at least once. For me it took 7 or 8 visits to the capital of France to finally do it and now I just can’t have enough! Thus, I decided to share some of the tips from my own experience with you. I hope it’ll help if you are preparing for your Paris voyage – or it may actually inspire you to take one!
P.S.: this blogpost does not pretend to be an exhaustive list of issues – rather, I just talk about some observations of mine. Some information is general or more or less obvious stuff, some may not be the right fit for you – but anyway, Paris is full of so many wonderful hidden gems! Go on and explore this city yourself as well!
Photoshoot in Paris: get Eiffel Tower ready
Even if you’re not a fan of Eiffel Tower (I’m not 🙂 ), you are likely to consider it to be a perfect backdrop to your photos. Well, who won’t be tempted to make a classic parisian shot? The best time to make a photoshoot here is early in the morning. Check the weather and your calendar for the exact time of the sunrise, brace yourself and make a schedule to arrive to the spot with the first glimpse of the daylight.
I would suggest you to start with Trocadéro and then walk down to the vintage carousel and the Pont d’Iena (built after the Napoleon’s order, btw). I can guarantee that you will be pleased with the result! Another benefit of pretending to be a lark is that this place will be definitely less crowded than at noon! A lack of annoying Eiffel Tower copies’ vendors is an additional bonus.
Important: If you choose to be shot barefoot or are planning to change shoes midway, beware of the broken glass! I found my foot all covered in blood after a Trocadéro shoot!
Another important thing is to always have an eye on your bags and never leave them unattended. Unfortunately, the reality of Paris is not that romantic, and bags are being stolen very frequently, especially when tourists stay enchanted by the Eiffel Tower and don’t think about their possessions – thieves just grab your stuff and run away.
Talking about the outfit, I would go for some pastel clothes as they look nicely in the morning light. But of course, it’s up to you.
Tip: for another gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower try Avenue Silvestre de Sacy in a walkable distance, you won’t be disappointed. Views from Rue Saint-Dominique and rue de l’Université on the other side of Seine are also brilliant!
Place Saint Michel Cathedral of Notre Dame
Pop in the Place Saint Michel in Latin Quartier on la Rive Rauche early in the morning to become one of the first visitors of the legendary bookshops, stroll along the narrow streets and pose in front of them! Bookstalls on the embankment itself are also legendary.
Don’t forget to include Notre Dame in your pics as well – shooting from the left bank will help you to hide crowds near the Cathedral on your photo! For shooting this architectural marvel from the back go to Pont de l’Archevêché, the narrowest road bridge in Paris.
Tip: make sure you pay a visit to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in this area! There were two of them, both with literature in English, but the original one, where Hemingway and Joyce spent their time, was closed during the Nazi occupation of France. The current one was opened after the Second World War and is named after the original bookshop.
Another must-see and must-clic for an Instagrammer is the Odette patisserie that is literally a minute’s walk from there.
Jardin du Palais-Royal
If you have time, have a picnic at Jardin du Palais-Royal, it’s one of my favorite places in Paris! Famous ‘Les Deux Plateaux’, an art installation by Daniel Buren, columns painted black and white – all they are inevitably familiar to you because every tourist takes a pic there. Nevertheless, those stripped columns and Palais-Royal’ arcades remain perfect for a shooting.
And, btw, the Instagram – famous Café Kitsuné is also located here.Unfortunately, this place is usually too crowded as well in a daytime, and for that reason mornings are still a better option. Tip: if you head to Louvre afterwards, don’t miss the restaurant Café Marly, it recently became a Mecca for all the Instagramers!
A real luxury spot and an iconic place that does not require an introduction. Shops and hotels are usually decorated very nicely and the lamp posts together with the Vendôme Column work magic!
The streets around Place Vendôme are also very photogenic! By the way, did you know that the original Vendôme Column was erected to commemorate the Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz?
I’m pretending I’m not shooting and just having my morning coffee in Paris
This kind of photos is another tempting option – although yes, still a cliché – but who can resist it? It sounds like there is nothing complex in it: order a coffee and a croissant, look unreasonably happy (well, not quite unreasonably, you’re in Paris sipping your coffee, it’s not that bad 🙂 ) and catch some window reflections OR just explore the cafe windows – at et voilà!
But in really the task is much more tricky. Some cafe owners don’t like their table to be photographed. Other issue is that you’re likely to be surrounded by other people and it’s not always a good backdrop. Hmmm, the list of my favorite cafes in Paris would definitely go to another post…
Art Nouveau Metro stations
I must confess that I avoid the underground in Paris as much as I can as it’s not the nicest place on Earth to be at (Uber is the ultimate lifesaver!). But I can’t help admiring the Art Nouveau style of metro stations! Lamarck-Caulaincourt is an ideal choice in Montmartre, but if you’re located in a different place, just any pretty station will do – there are quite a few of them! For instance, if you’re shooting around the Palais Garnier or Place Vendôme, Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre or Madeleine sound like a reasonable choice. Saint-Michel is also a gem. By the way, the most known name linked to the Parisian Métro stations is Hector Guimard, the architect who created the design of the quintessentially Parisian station entrances in Art Nouveau style. Nevertheless, at the time of its production – when the world was ready to celebrate the coming XX century – many were not happy with those splendid glass and cast iron decorations and many of the Guimard’s creations were even demolished!
Choose your hotel in Paris wisely
If you’re planning an early shoot near a particular location, think about hotels nearby. For instance, for shots near Louvre or Palais Royale I would suggest to stop at Hotel Brighton right on the side of the Tuileries garden. Views from the upper rooms are insane and the price/quality/location balance is rather reasonable.
Hotel d’Orsay is located on the left bank of Seine and is only a short walk away from Tuileries garden and obviously Museums D’Orsay. For Trocadéro, my favorite is Renaissance Paris Le Parc Trocadéro Hotel. Its private outdoor garden is extremely pretty especially in magnolia and camelia blooming season!
There are many options for the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe, Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel (renamed as Trocadero) is just one of them – the benefit of this place is that a big flower shop is just 30 sec away. Holiday Inn Paris Notre Dame is a not just adjacent to the bookshops at Place Saint-Michel and a very short distance divides you from the Notre Dame, but the rooftop views are also amazing, and, once again, it is reasonably priced.
Another option is to go for a shoot inside your hotel room itself – just look for rooms with the desired views on hotels’ websites. If you’re staying at Plaza Athénée or Four Seasons Hotel George V, it might even be a better idea to spend some time shooting in here – but clearly not everyone would find this option viable. There is a bunch of other great hotels and it all depends on the amount of money you want to spend. Please remember to book in advance as Paris is a very touristic city!
Get the equipment prepared in advance
If you’re planning some cliché styled shoots, make sure you buy croissants, baguettes, cheese, balloons, flowers etc. in advance! There are special services where you can order balloons. Many shops don’t work on Sundays so check the opening hours and days of shops of interests around you in advance. Even if your hotel is a high class, it’s not guaranteed that your fridge is working – so please check it before you put our smelly cheese into it! Otherwise, it’ll turn stinky, wake you up by its odor in the middle of the night and spoil your photoshoot readiness 🙂
Choose your photographer
This topic deserves a blogpost of its own, for sure, but just a little note: if you really want a meticulous result, you might consider hiring a professional photographer. Don’t be shy and discuss your outfit, location and what you expect to get, it’s usually very helpful. Sending some photos in advance to illustrate your words is always a good idea. Besides that, a good photographer would always be glad to share some advice with you to optimize the shoot. If you’re going to be shot by your loved ones or your friend, just make sure you express your gratitude in enough quantity of croissants and coffee afterwards!
Still, I hope this blog was helpful!
Yours, Anna xxx