Seriously, practically everyone has a smartphone…so, it makes sense that society has billions of photos in cyberspace where people like you and me are documenting their surroundings and experiences, except of course, if you are texting 24/7. However, if you could add a distinct flavor to your images while strolling around town then of course that makes for a more interesting photo. When I would be strolling with my husband and I would aim my camera at a scene or an object he would say, “that’s been done before”, and he was right. So the next time you are in front of the Eiffel Tower say to yourself, how can I make this a more intriguing photo? Should I squat down on the floor and take it from the ground? Should I take a shot of a particular detail? Should I try to silhouette it? Maybe you don’t have to leave home. You can take photos of anything in your home and make it interesting. There are endless possibilities. Another possibility is to create an intriguing or mysterious photo, as if you are telling a story. I know a photo does not need words, however, I am guilty of using my words as a stepping stone to a thought, a story, or even a poem, and why not. Make your image speak to the viewer as it speaks to you.
This was difficult for me to put together, but it was both our journeys. He wanted to show that he could beat cancer. He fought a good fight, we both did, but we lost. I continued to takes images until the end, but those were difficult to take and consequently to post. As a Flanuese you step outside and observe what is happening around you, and for a brief time I was the Flanuese, until I crossed over the circle to be with him and be his wife.
Just yesterday the streets were buzzing with excitement. The last fete took place yesterday evening. The evidence is that the cafe’s are dwindling down. It’s past noon, and hardly anyone is eating. Of course the locals are eating their lunch at their homes, and afterwards a little siesta. The shops tomorrow will stay close on Mondays, whereas in the July and August some were open to attract the tourists. I bid adeu ete!
Flaneuse is the female version of flanuer, which means, in basic terms, a person who walks around idly, examining his environment and his surroundings. Charles Baudelaire states it beautifully after Paris was being rebuilt by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann during the 1860s.
“The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family, just like the lover of the fair sex who builds up his family from all the beautiful women that he has ever found, or that are or are not—to be found; or the lover of pictures who lives in a magical society of dreams painted on canvas. Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. Or we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life.”
—Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1964). Orig. published in Le Figaro, in 1863.
However, because of the times it was coined in, no mention of women flanuer was ever mentioned. George Sand, famale author during the 19 th century, disguised herself as a man in order to walk the streets of Paris. Think about it. It was truly a man’s world and if a woman was walking around idling about she would be looked at unfavorably. But it’s the 21st Century, and women can walk about, observe, and document her surroundings as well. I have been doing this for over 15 years with my camera, but at that time I didn’t realize I was a flanuese. However, now I feel totally free to capture details of the cities I love. So my friends, I know this was a brief introduction of “why flanuese”, but as I am looking through the Internet more and more flanuese’s are breaking through, which is a good sign.
I welcome you to take this journey with me, and see what we can discover together.
In 2005 I was a Cultural Analysis candidate at the University of Amsterdam. What happened to me did not happen in the classroom, but in the streets of Amsterdam. I was an older student, and as such, I found that wandering alone was my best bet in taking in the sights and smell of Amsterdam. I always carried my camera and always paid attention to everything that was happening around me. For the last ten years I still wander the streets hoping to inhale the rhythms and the heartbeat of cities, villages, and small towns. I suppose my meandering will continue until I can longer walk and observe.