THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Friday and Saturday in Eze, Monte Carlo, Mougins and Tourrettes-sur-Loup
Turning in my assignment

Cannes and a deadline

After our class this morning, we set off to Cannes. This little French town is a second home to me. For decades, I attended the MIPIM real estate fair at the Palais des Festivals every year. Even since I retired from practising law, I have usually visited to stay in touch with my friends in the business. It seemed strange today to be there without them. Usually, when I walk along the famous Croisette, I bump into several chums. Today, the only people I could recognise were my fellow-photographers.

The pressure was on. This was the last opportunity to generate new images for our "photo-essays". I finalised the title of mine as Beaches, Boulevards & Bling: the style of the Cote dʼAzur so have given up on my original satirical intent. I wish I'd done so from the beginning. I could perhaps have approached subjects and won their cooperation if I'd been able to tell them it was their style that caught my eye!

Boulevards  Boulevardiers & Bling_18 Boulevards  Boulevardiers & Bling_15 Boulevards  Boulevardiers & Bling_05
As it is, almost all of my shots are candid. If I have any gift as a photographer it is for directing models. This approach has denied me the use of that. And my size (I am 6' 7" tall) makes it hard to be an inconspicuous presence on the street. My candid subjects often wear nervous expressions that belie the relaxed atmosphere of this playground for the wealthy.

Having clarified my intent, I found today's shoot easier. I knew what I was looking for and, in Cannes where I feel very much at home, I knew precisely where to look. I strolled a lot along the Rue d'Antibes (Cannes' Bond Street or 5th Avenue) and the Croisette (Cannes' beach promenade). It was a shame that, as it was Sunday, most shops were closed but I still found stylish and well-accessorised people out and about. I found a couple of hunting hides where I could sit and wait for prey. I even found time to have a non-alcoholic cocktail or two at my favourite terrace bar, which brought back happy memories of time spent there with friends and family since I first visited in 1991.

I skipped breakfast today, had a hearty (but healthy) lunch and have dispensed with dinner. I needed the time to go through 600 photos (I took many more this week, but have culled them ruthlessly each day) in order to find 25 "selects" for the faculty to cull. We have been simulating the job of a photo-journalist on assignment in the good old days of Time/Life magazines. They will simulate the photo-editors of those days with each of us, one by one. They will then present both our selects and their final choices to the whole group; explaining why they chose as they did. Tomorrow morning should be interesting.

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