The art of the Parisian shopfront

Photographer Sebastian Erras' project to photograph fascinating Parisian shopfronts and their owners

Paris Re-tale is a series of stunning photographs of Parisian shop-fronts, each one with the shopkeeper standing in the doorway. Published by PixArt Printing as promotional shots for the company, they are a photographic love letter to the City of Light. The photographer, Sebastian Erras, specialises in architectural photography and, having spent a year studying French at the Sorbonne, knows the capital well.

Patrizia Baggio from PixArt Printing had previously seen his photographs of ornately tiled Parisian floors and loved their style. “We also found out that Sebastian is very precise and careful with his architecture photography work,” she said, “which is why we considered him the best person to tell our ‘secret Paris’ story.”

“Myself, Carmen from PixArt and another photographer, worked together for around two months to find all the locations,” said Mr Erras, “and it was wonderful, really exploring Paris in depth.”

Born in Germany, he now works all over Europe. “I spend a lot of time in France and it's a pure pleasure being here. My ongoing Instagram floors project is one of my favourites because the patterns are so geographic, and I love architecture. I'm interested in symmetry and patterns and their beauty.”

Lisbon is set to be the project’s third location, and Mr Erras has already been to Portugal to scout locations. “I try to travel as much as I can” he said, adding it's important for his work. Two of his favourite memories are shooting vintage American cars outside their owner's homes in Cuba, and photographing a series of beach huts in Belgium, which he said were “fun and showed a playful side of life”.

Mr Erras added: “Sometimes a project isn't planned, you just see something, take a shot and realise there's more to it, so the project expands in an organic way. It's a nice way to work. But other times we plan photographs in an intellectual way from a desk.”

He finds architecture and the people who inhabit it fascinating. His images of floors all have a pair of shoes in them, while the 30 Parisian Re-Tale shop-fronts all come with brief information about the shopkeepers. “It gives an idea of the traditions in these, their founders and the customers who use these shops. They are very authentic stories, which I think complement the images.”

Sebastian Erras has been taking photographs for 14 years, and has come a long way from his original studies in business marketing.

“I started with wildlife photography,” he said. “I found that my marketing skills and my business degree enabled me to understanding my clients and know how to approach them as a photographer.” Mr Erras says that in a creative profession like photography, it is important to know what use images can be, and how they can be used in marketing campaigns.

Taking beautiful photographs isn't enough if you want to make a living, you have to know how to sell your images. At the beginning, you need time and money to build a portfolio. But he now feels he's got to a point where can be proud of his work.

“I've been making a living as a full-time professional photographer for the last four years which is a dream come true for me," he said, "so I'm happy.”

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