Marlene and I spent Sunday browsing the unkept streets of Saint Denis and the island just beyond the bridge. We're collaborating to make a a photo book of the contrast found within the rough Parisian suburb and we couldn't be more thrilled about yesterday's outing. Here is local woman, clearly in her Sunday best, ready the moment the camera crossed the threshold...so we learned.
What was so funny about the situation was that Marlene and I were just commenting on how we'd like to find this elusive bar that her roommate (Florent) works behind... but we had no idea where it was, let alone where we had wandered to at this point in the afternoon. Then, just as puzzled as we were before, there he was, there IT was. Sitting smack dab at a bar directly in front of us, Florent was gazing through the glass, drink in hand. He knew we'd stumble through, eventually.
As friends and recent colleagues, Marlene and I share the same mind when it comes to face and memory collecting. We lit up the second we laid eyes on this woman and her assumed husband, who was so fondly called Georgie. Slumped behind the parakeets and single canary, wife & Georgie conversed blankly as Marlene's lens silently stored their candid moments. I tried to sneak it, but my digital is not nearly as stealthy as Marlene's vintage Rolleiflex. The elderly owner kissed us each on the cheek and so kindly took a break from her Croque Monsieur to make us two espressos on the house. We got a brief tour of Florent's workshop, a rummage sale of a shed filled with flocks of pigeons, pale pink trinkets, XL canvas stretchers, and a single 70s Volkswagon van. Outside, a man enjoyed a solo game of bocce ball among the beams of light in the driveway, which now doubled as a yard. Later, Florent joined.
What is so shocking is that we were about to leave, single handed, with only the impression of the faces and the made-up narratives of what would-be characters, filling the bar and filling up our photo book. I was fine with this. I loved what I had seen, the fact that this scenes like this existed was enough to hold our smile and attention... I'm sure she saw me staring, I couldn't help it, I really couldn't. I needed to hold onto the cinematics of this crowd.
And then this happened.
The dual story of Saint Denis will be in print by the middle of May. More of Wife + Georgie is promised. Thanks for all of the lovely people we met yesterday! We wish our French was better but your warmth and grace in front of the camera made all the difference. Some people are just born with it.