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France

A brief note on the photos. I took these on film, and have scanned the original negatives. You can see the grain in the film, so they won’t look as polished as digital images. I was then, as I am now, interested in capturing the feelings and emotions in a scene, and I think they come across in these images.

France has always held a special place in my heart. When I was in 7th grade, my school system started an early French program which gave me two years jump on the four years that my high school offered French, and I took advantage of it. When I got to college, I wanted to continue my French language studies, but the university said they couldn’t offer anything beyond what I already had, so I took German, but read the French original texts for at least two courses. I traveled to France, settling into a Parisian neighborhood for an immersive experience. A French foreign exchange student lived with my wife and me for a year in 1991-92; we’re still in touch. In 1998 my wife and I went to France and spent nearly three weeks with his family, primarily in the Cévennes mountains in the south of France, where I took most of these photos. It’s an arid, mountainous region, and was a retreat for French Huguenots during the religious persecutions of the 1700s. For a time it was a center for the silk industry—Henry IV of France first encouraged the industry in the early 1600s. Robert Louis Stevenson’s book “Travels With a Donkey” chronicles his trip through the area in the late 1800s, and he remarks it seemed little changed from prior centuries; we stayed near Saint-Jean-du-Gard, which Stevenson writes about, in a farmhouse that’s on a 1647 map of the area. So there are still remnants of les temps perdus today.

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