Adrian Skenderovic often wanders the streets of central Paris where he lives in search of great moments to capture. But one day two years ago, Skenderovic encountered a special scene in a place he didn’t normally look: the water.
Walking over a bridge spanning the river Seine, he saw a boat full of tourists passing underneath, and spontaneously decided to snap a photo. When he got home that night and saw the picture, he decided the perspective was worth exploring further.
Since then, Skenderovic has visited a bridge near his house at least 50 times, spending several hours before 2 p.m. when the light is best, hoping for boats full of tourists to pass. The bridge is lower than most, which made it the perfect place to capture the colorful details of the vessels’ decks below and their occupants. Usually, he waited about 20 minutes for a boat to arrive, and even then, he wasn’t always guaranteed a successful shot.
“For me, it was important that people were not looking at the camera; I thought it would break the magic. But when tourists are on the boats they wave at people,” he said. “So when a boat was coming, I had to act like I wasn’t shooting people. I’d point my camera at the sky or the monuments and at the last second I’d point the camera down at the boat. It was a trick to have them not look at me or wave at me.”
Even from a bird’s eye view, the photos in Skenderovic’s series, “Down The River,” provide insight into the relationships of the tourists he captures.
“In one picture there are just eight people on the boat, two by two, and each couple has a specific behavior. Some are lovers and they hold hands, two others have a seat between each other because one might think they’re not such good friends,” he said. “Even just by the way people sit, you can build a story.”
While some Parisians think of tourists as an annoyance, Skenderovic sees them as essential a part of the landscape as the Eiffel Tower or the city’s historic buildings. Further, he sees them not as gawking outsiders, but as genuine admirers of a city that natives can often take for granted.
“As Parisians, we are used to seeing the city so often that it becomes ordinary to us. We don’t realize anymore that we live in the most beautiful city in the world,” he said via email. “So it was also interesting for me to shoot people who look at Paris and its monuments with admiration, eyes wide open.”