Jacques (Stranger #51/100), Paris Elysees-Madeleine

Jacques is a mischievous soul.

With the late afternoon sun splashing about, bouncing from high windows to dapple the stately painted doorways along the Rue Royale, I’d found and test shot a Parisian background and had waited and watched as the light slowly wheeled away. I’d even pitched a couple of maybe folk, knowing the light would not last, and had been rejected. About to throw in my hand and move on I spotted Jacques ambling up the street, assessing me with a wry half smile. With his subtle blue threaded suit, his pale shirt and rakish, gravity defying beret he was everything I’d hoped to meet in Paris.

In such circumstances, Jacques forgive me, I will persevere after an initial “no”. And so it was in this instance. Jacques initially shook his head and noted the project was not necessarily for him. Particularly as I was working in my somewhat weathered French, I thought I should just check that he understood my request. And so he let me talk…

Five minutes later, with my every thought on the project, Jacques’ incredible wardrobe, his dignified air, the background and rapidly fading light, my time living in Pontoise and subsequent failure to maintain adequately a decent standard of French grammar, with all of this embarrassingly repeated and fumbled in explanation, Jacques grinned and agreed. And he gave a little wink, communicating with perfect eloquence that he’d silently agreed to the shot four minutes earlier, but had enjoyed my increasingly desperate, rambling showcase of what happens when one neglects a second language.

We shot four frames and I will be posting another, that brings out the mischief a little more. This one though was a better blend of a portrait that showed him as a gentleman, with the deceptively innocent half grin he wore as we’d spoken. I did just Photoshop in his lower shirt button, as I’d bisected it in the original, but had it right in a separate image.

Jacques – Now I’m going to get my own back by thanking you in English… Thank you for stopping, for listening and fair play for pulling my leg. I remember our meeting with a smile, and hugely appreciate the time you gave. Merci!

This is portrait #51 of my 100 Strangers Project – check out the group page and get involved.

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