Paris Vignettes: Solitude in the City

Paris Vignettes: Solitude in the City

The Paris Vignettes series features the inspired work of street photographer William “Bill” O’Such in themed installments

Paris is such a vibrant city that when you spy moments of solitude, it seems unusual, and in some ways, a bit like you’re trespassing on someone’s private moment. Yet as a street photographer, these moments are captivating. I’ve selected some photos that capture this prevalent Paris stage set. For example, I spied someone adorned in vibrant attire with a backdrop of muted beige walls (“couleur devant un mur”). At a different time, I noticed how a person’s clothing seamlessly harmonized with the surrounding colors, creating an intriguing visual (“vert et vert”).

This sense of solitude doesn’t exclusively pertain to people; it extends to the realm of nature, with a lone bird (“pas encore ouvert”) or even a timeless statue gazing from its niche, seemingly entrenched in eternity (“toujours attendant”). One of my preferred places to encounter individuals, whether purposefully on their way somewhere or contentedly adrift in the moment, is along the tranquil Seine River, where the riverbanks provide a serene escape from the bustling city streets (“marcher le long de la Seine”). Here, one can indulge in profound introspection or savor a simple riverside lunch (“déjeuner au bord de la Seine”).

Paris’ architectural wonders, such as the graceful arches of the Palais Royal, serve as visual anchors, drawing attention to individuals in the distance or casting artistic shadows around those pausing for a respite (“dans le Palais Royale” and “je fume”). Whether it’s individuals seeking solitude on a quiet night, contemplating the mysteries above them (“en haut”), or merely yearning for the timely arrival of their train (“en attendant un train”), these solitary moments in the City of Light possess a unique enchantment.

en haut, Photo credit: William O’Such

dejeuner le long la Seine, Photo credit: William O’Such

dans le palais royale, Photo credit: William O’Such

colour devant un mur, Photo credit: William O’Such

vert et vert, Photo credit: William O’Such

attendant pour un train, Photo credit: William O’Such

toujours attendant, Photo credit: William O’Such

solitude et la seine, Photo credit: William O’Such

pas encore ouvert, Photo credit: William O’Such

je fume, Photo credit: William O’Such

Lead photo credit : marcher à cote de la SeinePhoto credit: William O'Such

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William was introduced to silver halide photography by his father, Chester J. O’Such, via the family’s Ansco reflex camera and home darkroom. After college, William worked as a photographic engineer at Eastman Kodak, where he began to learn the art of photography. With his first SLR, a Canon AE-1, he photographed his inaugural voyage to Paris in 1982. This early spark turned into full passion when William became a Kodak expatriate in Paris from 1995-99. Before returning to the USA, William and his future wife Ineke bought an apartment in the Marais district. Inspired by Bresson, William continues to visit Paris at least twice a year to wander the streets, camera in hand, looking for the next vignette. His photos are available for sale by visiting