When I was 15 I traveled to Europe on a whirlwind tour through 7 countries in 14 days with a group of music students. The choir sang in amazing cathedrals and the band played in various picturesque city squares and parks, including Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. My memories of the majority of the trip are faded and dusty, but there are those moments that still stand out to me with amazing clarity. The sense of awe at the size of the Eiffel Tower, the incredibly overwhelming ‘rightness’ of the Swiss Alps at sunrise, the feeling of the warmth of the Italian sun on my shoulders during a vaporetto ride into Venice. Experiencing Europe as a student was amazing and something that I am truly grateful for.
Photographer Anna Shackleford, of Anna K Photography, recently had the opportunity to accompany a group of students on their own European adventure. Anna’s friend organized a trip through EF Tours for a group of high school students. As a chaperone, Anna was along for the ride and enjoyed the leisure of experiencing the cities without having to do any planning or navigating. As a bonus, she was able to see many areas of Europe and start a list of locations to visit again, someday.
The tour progressed through multiple cities, but in Paris the group was able to see Montmartre, take a boat trip down the Siene, visit the Eiffel tower, tour Versailles and explore the Louvre. Anna notes “I’d love to spend more time in the Montmartre area. Artists gather here in little market and it’s so much fun to walk around and see what everyone is working on. As we walked to Montmartre the streets were narrow and exactly what I expected everywhere to look like in Paris; it was gorgeous! The crepes are incredible and we ate one everyday that we were there!”
Anna has a few tips for those who might be planning a trip to the City of Lights:
“If you’re a photographer I would recommend going in the off months or waking up super early in the morning before tourists are everywhere. Like any beautiful destination there are going to be a lot of people that want to see it and that can be tricky when you’re trying to get beautiful images!”
From my own experience in Paris, I would echo Anna’s advice. The city is gorgeous, but very full of tourists, even on Christmas, the time of year my family visited. Despite the business, though, edge-of-day moments of impossible beauty can often be found. My personal favorite memory of Paris was the silent evening walk I took, alone, from our apartment in the Latin Quarter, across the Siene to Notre Dame, where the Christmas Eve service was in session. The line to get into the cathedral was miraculously short and I walked into the swelling, overwhelming sound of the organ and the flickering of candlelight throughout the vast interior. Traveling is made worthwhile in moments like that. Moments that take your breath away and cause you to feel as though you are seeing with your heart, your spirit, instead of your eyes.
Paris is full of opportunities to make memories. Anna’s thoughtful, soft, subtle, imagery gives us a taste of the city and a hint of the color, light and life that each of the students she accompanied will remember for the rest of their lives. More of Anna’s travels, including imagery from England and Italy, can be found on her website.