Bordeaux Street Photography in France

Bordeaux, a small city located in the South West of France turned out to be the perfect location for my first Street Photography experience. Known well for it’s wine and mouth watering sea food I enjoyed 5 days in Bordeaux of cloud-less skies for a mid-wedding season mini break with my girlfriend. Aside from relaxing and recovering from a busy season I set myself a side goal of trying to capture the feel of the city from an outside perspective. The tool for this goal was Street Photography.

Base of Operations in Bordeaux

After booking a flat on Airbnb right in the middle of the city we were in the perfect position to explore the tourist popular old town and the local hangouts around St Michelle. The latter being our favourite of the two. Instead of setting an ambitious sight-seeing plan we spent a lazy few days strolling along the streets with plenty of drink stops. I’ve often found the best way to experience a city is to get lost in it.

My Street Photography Inspiration

Having been inspired by the work of Ross Harvey (who’s workshop I recently experienced), Kristian Leven and Domique Shaw I was keen to give the art of street photography a whirl. Although sharing a lot of over laps with my documentary wedding photography style it had some key differences. Most notably, unlike a wedding I did not have a free license to photograph all my subjects. I had to be a lot more subtle in my approach and respectful to the public around me.

I also found I was having to think a lot faster and keep my eyes sharp. Ever few steps brought me into a new street or square with different opportunities. Every second people were sharing moments between each other. Blink and you miss something.

Why Bordeaux?

The people of Bordeaux, often appearing a bit rough around the edges at first, were helpful and shared a wryly sense of humour. We discovered that south of the old town there was a strong Moroccan and Arabic impression. One of the benefits was being able to enjoy incredible mint teas in the square. The combination of narrow streets and strong sunlight gave me plenty to play with.

The Old City

Round each corner of the old city we found little surprises. There was a great sense of discovery. A little square, tiny bar, boutique shop or strange graffiti etched onto the old city stone. A strange combination of modern meets medieval. The theme of marrying new and old or turning something old into new was visible in serval areas.

Local Markets

South of the old town we came across a lot of the locals’ hangouts. One of our favourites was the local covered market. The abundance of fresh veg, meat and fish created some powerful, often overwhelming nasal experiences. Most interestingly was that squeezed in between all the produce were little bars serving wine and champagne.

Experiencing Bordeaux through street photography has been a great exercise. The exercise of street photography opened my eyes to a lot more than I would usually have noticed. It also had the added bonus of helping me to develop my photography skill set.

Writing this while sitting in the Bordeaux Airport terminal for a delayed EasyJet flight back to London, I’m feeling refreshed and pumped for this coming weekend’s wedding.

Bordeaux Street Photography by Matt Badenoch Photography.