About the Photographer

A propos du photographe
       (version française)A_propos_du_photographe.html


I started photographing seriously while in Paris from 1954 to 1956.  My wife, Barbara, and I lived in the Pension Vincent on Boulevard Port Royal.  Barbara was studying at the Sorbonne and I was in the U.S. Army, a private working at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) as a draftsman.





               









                        




                           SHAPE, 1954                        Pension Vincent, 1954


This nine-to-five job gave me plenty of time to wander the city carrying a Kodak Retina IIIC camera, capturing scenes of post-war Paris still blackened by centuries of air pollution and soot.  It was the city of Jean Gabin and Marcel Carné; it was, for me,  the beginning of over fifty years of photographic inspiration.


In 1956, upon completion of my military service, Barbara and I bought a Volkswagen “bug” and began a 5-month road trip of the northern Mediterranean countries, ending up in Istanbul.  We took a dilapidated steamer to Naples, met the Israeli ship, SS Zion, loaded our VW aboard, and returned to the States. 


Our stay in Paris led to a life-long fascination with that city.  Barbara eventually became a professor of French literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of the directors of their Paris Year Abroad Program.  I entered the computer field and became a professor of computer science at Northwestern University.  Over the years we spent much time in Paris, and in 1982  bought an apartment there. Since the early nineties, we have split our time between Paris and the States.


Paris became my main venue for photography.  The resulting images have appeared in several exhibits:


Restoration of the Pont Neuf”, at the Mairie (town hall) of the 6th arrondissement of Paris in 2007.  This exhibit consisted of photos taken over a 13-year period, starting in 1994 when restoration of the oldest bridge in Paris was begun.  The restoration was completed in 2007, by which time I had accumulated about 2,500 negatives.  Fifty of these images formed the basis for this six-week exhibit.

       


"Dreams for Sale", at the Centre d'initiative (Chamber of Commerce) of Nanterre in 1998.  This exhibit, with its many surrealistic images, was the product of a five-year immersion in the flea markets of Paris and its environs in the early 1990s.


"Europe 1955-56", at Northwestern University's Dittmar Gallery in 1991, presented many photos from our European road trip.


"Paris Then & Now", at the National Academy of Design in New York In 1980, was a side-by-side slide projection showing early 19th to mid-20th century paintings and drawings of Paris belonging to the Musée Carnavalet, in juxtaposition with color photos taken in 1976-77 from the same viewpoints.


I’ve had a continuing interest in making photos of people doing their jobs: to date I have photographed a baker in his boulangerie, an elderly bouquiniste at her stand along the Seine and in her apartment, and, of course, the sculptors and stone masons working on the scaffolding of the Pont Neuf during its restoration. A neighborhood luthier (violin maker) has recently agreed to let me photograph him at work.


Ben Mittman

Paris, 2009


I can be contacted at: b-b@mittman.org.

 
 

Self Portraits

Still Lifes

Figurative

Home Page
AccueilHome.html
Paris Then & Now
Paris hier et aujourd’huiParis_Then_%26_Now.html
Paris Flea Markets
Marchés aux pucesParis_Flea_Markets.html
Restoration of the Pont Neuf  
Restauration du Pont NeufRestoration_of_PN.html
Christo Wraps Pont Neuf
Christo emballe le Pont NeufChristo_Wraps_PN.html
Europe
EuropeEurope_%281955_-_1956%29.html
Artisans & others
MétiersMetiers.html

                                                                                                                                                                 © Ben Mittman 2010


Restoration of Sphinx Alley  
Restauration de l’allée des SphinxRestoration_Sphinx_Alley.html