I’m grateful to have two of my photographs of Notre-Dame de Paris published today by L’Oeil de la Photographie (or The Eye of Photography) based in Paris. They were among 100 published of nearly 1500 received. It’s a great honor to be published alongside a black-and-white by Michael Kenna and a historic photo by Rober Doisneau as well as all the other incredible photographers.
I felt a very profound loss at watching Notre-Dame burn this past Monday. I sat at my desk struggling to work with one computer monitor open to live video coverage of it engulfed in flames.
I’ve been there many times, and it has a presence, an immortality of being, that penetrates you in a way that is hard to describe. Those who have never had the opportunity to travel there can not fully understand it. The pyramids of Egypt and a few other structures around the world are older, but Notre-Dame has been a living, evolving presence for over 800 years.
It’s not just the architecture or the construction, but the place itself on an island in the middle of the Seine at what would become the middle of Paris. Just a short distance from the front of Notre-Dame you can descend stairs below-ground into the Archeological Crypt and view excavated Roman ruins and the foundations of the Church of Saint-Etienne built in the 6th century by King Childebert. Those are believed by some to be examples of fairly “recent” human inhabitation.
My first of many trips to Paris was in my twenties, and my first experience in life as an American with “old” was at Notre-Dame. Americans who don’t have the opportunity to travel outside the states never truly experience what “old” is really like. Notre-Dame has been around over 3x longer than the United States itself. Climbing the 387 cramped, circular stairs of the north tower to the top of Notre-Dame, the stone steps dip in the center from centuries of wear. They’re old, really old.
The frame over the great Abbey had timber dating from between 1160-1220. Those trees were believed to be 300-400 year-old trees before they were cut down. Yes, the roof can be built back, not with timber from France of that size because it doesn’t exist anymore, but in one form or another. Nevertheless, it is a very, very sad event.
Of my two photos shown here, the view from above was taken from the 56th floor observation deck of Tour Montparnasse. It has previously licensed by Expedia for 3 years. Prints are available. The image of candles has been licensed multiple times for books and magazines.