Passage du Grand Cerf

Passage du Grand Cerf

Detail, Passage du Ponceau

Detail, Passage du Ponceau

Passage du Ponceau

Passage du Ponceau

The Passages

The Passages in Paris were built between c1798 and 1860. In their heyday, in the mid 19th century, there were more than one hundred – built to allow Parisians to shop and stroll at their leisure while sheltered from the bad weather and the dirty traffic-congested streets. They boasted the latest technical innovations – long glass ceilings, intricate ironwork and gas lighting.

I’m by no means the first person to produce a set of photographs of the Passages. We know that Robert Doisneau took extensive photos in 1975, and again in 1980. And I can’t believe that Eugene Atget didn’t take a few also. After all, between 1890 and 1926 he took over 10,000 images of the architecture and the streets of Paris.

I have been aware of the Passages for many decades. In 1969 I stayed in a student hostel right opposite Galerie Vero Dodat. More recently, yearly visits to ParisPhoto would always include a walk through the Verdeau, Jouffroy, and Panoramas complex.

However, it was about four years ago that I began shooting in the Passages. At that time I was still putting together my City Shapes collection; so as that came to fruition, my focus turned to the Passages, and enough images to mount an exhibition.