Eiffel Tower – Paris, France 1996

Ah, Paris. Sometimes the subject of a photograph does all the heavy lifting. You have to work hard to take an uninspiring photo of the Paris cityscape. I took this photo from the escalator of the Museum of Modern Art, which I think is pretty apropos because the Eiffel Tower is the epitome of modern art and architecture.

Like a lot of the art that hangs in the museum of modern art, the Eiffel Tower was ahead of it’s time and not immediately appreciated. When the Tower was first built for the 1889 World’s Fair it was reviled by many Parisians as flat out ugly and ruining the Paris skyline. Many didn’t think it was worthy of Paris’s artistic history and should be removed after the Fair. But it’s become one of the most revered symbols of France and it’s hard to imagine the Paris skyline without it.

It may be hard to take a bad photo of the iconic buildings and scenes of the world, but they are so photographed that it’s almost equally impossible to take a truly great photo of these places. There is almost no mystery to discover and no angle undocumented. I think photography’s biggest mission is to reveal secrets. Sometimes they are secrets about the physical world like images from places lost to modern civilization – like the first photos from Machu Picchu, and other times photography reveals inner secrets like those uncovered in the greatest portraits. Do I think my photo of the Eiffel Tower does any of this? Probably not. However, I do think it shows how starkly the Tower contrasts with the rest of the city and how it might have once caused an uproar. But that’s not why I like this photo. I like it mostly because it’s nice to look at, and while that’s not revolutionary sometimes it’s enough.

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