Sometimes you have to walk around to the back to really experience the complete splendor of something. Un Homme et Notre-Dame de Paris is a photograph of exactly that.
On this particular trip to Paris, I was with my good friend M. It was her first time in Paris and she turned out to be an excellent travel companion. It’s not easy to explore with a photographer, as we’re always wanting to stop. Sometimes for long periods of time to wait for the right moment to make a photograph. But M quickly dialed into the rhythm on her own, taking just as much time to capture the lovely details with her point-and-shoot as I was.
When visiting Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, it’s easy to take in the beautiful western facade front, with the majestic symmetrical towers, and check it off your bucket list of places you’ve always wanted to see. But you’d be missing half of the beauty if you stopped there.
The back, on the eastern side is where you see the flying buttresses, which were state-of-the-art architecture in the 12th century when building began. Fun Fact: The buttresses were an afterthought, once it was discovered, still during construction, that the thin walls of the choir and nave were already beginning to show fractures as the height increased.
It’s hard to imagine Notre-Dame without them, but they weren’t part of the original design.
When the cathedral was finally finished in 1345, more than 180 years after groundbreaking, it was already one of the most well-known buildings in the world. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of French Gothic architecture.
But you have to really walk around it to properly appreciate it. Like, The Man and Our Lady of Paris did that beautiful morning. Like all of us on the back side were doing.
You can see more of my photos from the city I’ve called my temporary home many times in the past two decades in my photobook, Être à Paris (To be in Paris). You can order a signed or unsigned copy here.
And here’s a little video of me getting the first test printing back from the printer a few years ago.