Paris Vignettes: The City’s Birds

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Paris Vignettes: The City’s Birds

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

As you stroll through Paris, it’s easy to overlook the city’s subtle inhabitants. Birds are always present yet seldom acknowledged. On a sun-drenched Wednesday, I found myself in empty Square Marigny, relatively empty compared to the adjacent Champs-Élysées. A flock of birds suddenly caught my attention. They, too, seemed to be leisurely exploring their surroundings. Seating myself, I witnessed one bird take off, gracefully gliding (“en volant”) toward an eventual landing. Continuing my journey towards the Petit Palais, two siblings (“frère et sœur”) trotted past me. Afterwards, while making my way home after the museum visit, a narrow alley in Le Marais revealed a lone bird (“seul oiseau”) crossing my path, seemingly on its way home too.

A few days later, I ventured to the tranquil Bois de Vincennes, where the central lake has some charming birdhouses. A resident began chasing another (“je te suis”), injecting a burst of life into an otherwise quiet day. Returning on Line 1 to central Paris and crossing over to Île Saint-Louis, I encountered a woman who spent a couple of hours feeding the birds (“heure de repas”). Shortly thereafter, in a flea market, an artist caught my eye. This creative individual transformed vinyl records into captivating pieces of bird art (“vinyl en vol”).

During another walk north of the Quartier Montorgueil, this time with friends from San Francisco, we witnessed birds joyfully indulging in a Saturday bath (“les bains”). I recalled a similar moment with my friend Julie in Le Marais, where the birds reveled in their water antics. So, the next time you wander through Paris, remember to cast your gaze skyward — you’ll discover that birds are an integral part of the city, including those rooftop silhouettes in the evening (“toit Île Saint-Louis”).

en volant, Photo Credit: William O’Such

heure de repas, Photo Credit: William O’Such

frére et souer, Photo Credit: William O’Such

je te suis, Photo Credit: William O’Such

les bains, Photo Credit: William O’Such

seul oiseau, Photo Credit: William O’Such

vinyl en vol, Photo Credit: William O’Such

Lead photo credit : toit ile saint louis, Photo 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 www.osuchphotography.com