If you’re looking for modern architecture in Paris, La Défense is the most concentrated area you’ll find. It’s technically just outside of Paris, west of the city, and the major business area of this historic city. It’s a relatively compact area with a whole lot of interesting architecture.

At the western-most end is the Grande Arche. There are numerous ways to photograph this location. Here are a couple examples:

The first is focusing on the grandness of the arch and its massive size. By doing a look-up shot and using a wide-angle lens, the largeness of this location is emphasized.

grande arche, la defense

The second is using people to add a sense of place and scale.grande arche, la defense

The Grande Arche completes the Historical Axis of Paris, which begins with the Louvre and is a line of monuments that runs through Paris, including the Arc de Triomphe, among others. The Arche is also turned at a slight angle to complete a second axis with the two highest buildings in Paris – the Eiffel Tower and Tour Montparnasse.

The wider shot below gives you some context. Shot from the Grande Arche area looking east, you can see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance.

Bassin Takis, la defense

Just next to the Grande Arche is Le Dôme. On this particular day I lucked out with these incredible clouds, making this minimalistic shot more compelling. A good opportunity to contrast the manmade with nature.

le dome, la defense

As you wander east along the esplanade, you’ll encounter the signature artwork of Alexander Calder with his sculpture, L’Araignée Rouge. Always fun to play with. Especially with the reflective building just next to it, which is also reflecting the Grande Arche, giving the space more context. In addition, the color contrast between the cool blue and warm red/orange work well together.

L'Araignée Rouge, la defense

If you look just past the sculpture you see Tour EDF. Incorporating part of the sculpture, along with Tour EDF and the neighboring building, you can create some nice geometric lines and triangles in this area.

L'Araignée Rouge, Tour EDF, la defense

A short distance east you see Tour Majunga with its jagged edge. Showing its profile enables you to see the irregular shape, while incorporating a few window washers gives the shot a sense of scale.

 Tour Majunga, la defense

These are just a few examples of the great buildings in this area of Paris. We’ll be spending a large part of Day 3 of the workshop in this area. Definitely excited to be heading back here, there’s so much to see and some new locations since I last visited. No doubt you’ll come away with great shots if you’re joining us. There are a couple spots left, so if you’re still considering it, you can find all the details here!




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