After Sieff

A stairwell in a hotel somewhere in Paris. It was cheap and in an arrondissement unknown to tourists, where the walk at night from the M├ętro took me past bars full of cigarette-smoking locals, who watched silently.

Around the corner, the glass telephone box had recently been smashed and an alleyway below a back window was littered with used condoms, probably discarded by the prostitutes who hung around street corners. A distinct memory of my first night in this hotel, when I went to Paris for a few days on my own, was that the occupancy of the room next door changed every hour or so throughout the night. An eye-opener to the inexperienced twenty-something.

Sometimes I come across negatives in my archive which seem unpromising at first sight. Then, after scanning them and fiddling with them in Photoshop for a while, their true beauty comes through. This is the kind of image I strive for whenever I take photographs. It reminds me powerfully of the work of one of my favourite photographers, Jeanloup Sieff.