The nights may be drawing in, but Paris Photo, like a beacon on the horizon, is immune from the imminent pull of winter. Opening this Thursday, November 12, and running through November 15, the 19th edition promises as much bustle and excitement as past editions. Some 147 galleries from 34 countries will congregate in the French capital’s Grand Palais where they will showcase everything from vintage prints to contemporary works across multiple genres within photography. There is much to look forward to inside the fair itself, but don’t forget to venture onto the streets of Paris to check out what else the photo world has in store this week.
- Gems to seek out inside the fair
Several galleries have chosen to present themed stands or feature just two photographers this year. Sprueth Magers and Stevenson galleries are two that have opted for a "duo show" – the former showing Stephen Shore and the Bechers, and the latter juxtaposing prints by Viviane Sassen and Zanele Muholi. Elsewhere, Flowers Gallery will mount a group show bringing together "works that blur the intersection between observed reality, constructed photography, appropriation and found objects," including new work by Julie Cockburn. Los Angeles’ Little Big Man Gallery will show work by three Japanese and two American female photographers including Stacy Kranitz, alongside original works by Asger Carlsen, Roger Ballen, Doug Rickard and Nick Waplington, shown for the first time in Europe.
Other galleries worth a visit include Atlas for its selection of photograms by the likes of Berenice Abbott and Erwin Blumenfeld, and Louise Alexander Gallery, which will exhibit original black and white Polaroids by Guy Bourdin alongside the color photographs in which the Polaroids appear. To get a glimpse of vintage prints from the 1930s and ’40s by crime scene photographer Weegee, pop by the Daniel Blau stand, which will also show photographs depicting American nuclear tests in the 1940s and ’50s, and images taken in space.
- New for 2015 – a special selection of work in the Salon d’Honneur
Upstairs on the first floor of the Grand Palais is a selection of galleries presenting large format photographs and videos, as well as works in series. The inaugural Prisms is a chance for visitors to experience bodies of work in their entirety, say the fair organizers. One particular standout is Rosalind Solomon’s harrowing body of work on AIDS presented by Bruce Silverstein gallery. Solomon created Portraits in the Time of AIDS, 1988 at the height of the AIDS epidemic. At a time when the general public and media in America were struggling to come to terms with the effects of the illness on society, Solomon’s raw and honest portraits of sufferers caused outrage and sparked debate when shown in the U.S. They are just as hard-hitting today.
Also in the Prisms section is Thomas Zander gallery’s presentation of images by Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Walker Evans, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander, whose work was originally published as limited edition portfolios by the iconic Double Elephant Press in New York in the early 1970s. The gallery has recently published a four-volume publication with Steidl featuring the work. Also in Prisms look out for Paul Graham’s large scale portraits of his sleeping partner from Does Yellow Run Forever? presented by New York’s Pace/MacGill Gallery.
- An exploration of love at first sight
Could you put into words or express through images what it feels like to fall in love? If this sounds like an impossible task, spare a thought for photographer Natasha Caruana who made this her mission last year. As the winner of 2014 BMW Residency programme, Caruana spent many months researching and investigating what it might mean to experience love at first sight or "Coup de Foudre," to use the French expression and title of her resulting series, which is on display in the Grand Palais.
- Photobooks galore inside the fair and out
No edition of Paris Photo would be complete without photobooks and this year’s fair does not disappoint. 27 publishers and book dealers will be in attendance including London-based Mörel Books who will present new titles by Stephen Shore featuring images from the photographer’s Instagram feed, and Chris Shaw – Retrospecting Sandy Hill Estate – a reworking of the photographer’s seminal body of work about British suburbia in the 1980s. Mörel Books will also present Nick Waplington’s We Live As We Dream, Alone, featuring photographs of drawings and inscriptions made on walls inside camps by German prisoners of war.
Photographers including Shaw, Jason Larkin, members of Magnum Photos, and Matt Henry and Eamonn Doyle at the Michael Hoppen Gallery stand will be on hand to sign books. Also look out for Book Machine, a new initiative on-site at Paris Photo that invites designers and photographers to join forces to bring photobook projects to life.
Away from the Grand Palais, art and photography publishing fair Offprint returns this year, as does Le PhotobookFest 2015, featuring a pop-up bookshop and book-making events, and book fair on a boat, Polycopies, featuring 36 independent publishers.
- Dive into a wealth of photography in museums and public institutions
Once you have seen all you can inside the Grand Palais, hit the city’s great museums and galleries to take in all they have to offer. The 2015 Prix Pictet exhibition will be on show at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris from Nov. 13 featuring images on the theme of "disorder" by this year’s finalists. Le Bal is staging an exhibition that takes the idea of dust – that which is left behind and is unwanted, overlooked – as its starting point. Aerial photography, forensic photography, abstractions of landscapes, ruins, and press photos of the American dust storms all feature in A Handful of Dust, curated by David Campany.
Other exhibitions worth bookmarking include: Tom Wood Paysages intimes at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, an evocative exhibition that explores Wood’s relationship to the landscape of Ireland; an exhibition of Magnum photographer Bruno Barbey's work at MEP; and one of Philippe Halsman’s playful and distinctive portraits in which he often got his subjects to leap into the air at Jeu de Paume. And, if you missed Foam Talent 2015 at Unseen Photo Fair this year, there is another showing of works by the shortlisted photographers at Atelier Néerlandais from Nov. 11 to Dec. 20.
- Explore Paris’s independent galleries
Outside of the big museums is a network of smaller galleries that will also place the spotlight firmly on photography this autumn. Among them is Sage Paris, which is showing never-before-exhibited still life color photographs by Japanese master photographer Shôji Ueda. The exhibition runs from Nov. 11 to Dec. 19. Elsewhere, L’Oiseau Gallery, in collaboration with La Petite Poule Noire, will show Beyrouth 75-15, an exhibition of photographs taken in Beirut by Agence MYOP photographer Stéphane Lagoutte. The layered images combine shots taken by Lagoutte in the city over three years and found images discovered in the rubble of an old hotel in the city center. It is a literal yet poetic way of showing the depths of Lebanese culture and history. The exhibition is officially part of MYOP in Paris, the French photography agency’s 10th birthday celebrations, which features six exhibitions across the city.
- Swing by one of several other photography fairs
Paris Photo is the most famous, but it’s not the only fair taking place in the French capital during the coming weekend. With an impressive line up of events is Photo Saint-Germain, including an exhibition of works by Chris Shaw and Argentinian photographer Nicolas Silberfaden at Galerie Rue Visconti. The exhibition juxtaposes the photographers’ views and experiences of California – Shaw’s dark and surreal vision of the Californian desert captured while on a residency in Joshua Tree National Park, and Silberfaden’s large format color images taken in the city of Los Angeles. In the same space is an installation of work by AM Projects, five photographers who take an experimental, exploratory tack.
The fair also features World Press Photo winning photographer Sofia Valiente’s acclaimed series Miracle Village about sex offenders in southern Florida, on show at Galerie Meyer. At Maison de l’Amérique latine as part of both Photo Saint-Germain and Photoquai is an exhibition of more than 80 photographs by Mexican photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo, wife of Manuel, who was a skilled documentary photographer in her own right. Dedicated to non-Western photography, Photoquai is also showing work by World Press Photo award winners Sarker Protick and Raphaela Rosella, Xiao Zhang and Jiehao Su in a group exhibition that considers notions of family, PHQ5 – We Are Family. New this year is What’s Up Photo Doc International Documentary Photo Fair, from the organizers of last year’s Photo Off. The aim, say the organizers, is to give a voice to a younger generation of photographers and engage with contemporary global issues through photography.
- Women in photography in the spotlight
The Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée d'Orsay examine female contributions to photography in the multifaceted exhibition: Who's Afraid of Women Photographers? Divided into two parts (1839 to 1919, and 1918 to 1945), the exhibition, which is officially part of Photo Saint-Germain, takes an in-depth look at what it meant to be a woman photographer during these years. The aim of the exhibition, write the curators, is: "to show, against the backdrop of a ravaged Europe, how women embraced the photographic medium as part of an artistic and professional empowerment strategy and conquered territories which were previously the preserve of men." It spotlights women who worked in photojournalism during the two world wars, female portraitists, and much more.
- Other happenings in Paris
If you have any energy left, there is a host of events including talks and workshops taking place across the French capital. Among them is a talk about the nature of photography on Nov. 15 with Simon Baker, curator of photography and international art at Tate, and other guests, at Galerie Rue Visconti. Elsewhere, Artcurial is hosting free platinum printing workshops with demonstrations by Amanasalto's master printer from Japan at its auction house during the week. For details and to reserve a place, email: Capucine Tamboise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gemma Padley is a freelance writer specializing in photography, based in London.