One Woman Is Dismantling Stereotypes About The People Who Live In Paris One Photo At A Time

Her work is about the "chemistry and serendipity" of meeting someone.

Stéphanie Pfeiffer had no idea how to use a camera four years ago.

She was busy doing an exchange program studying marketing in Philadelphia when one day, she decided to buy a digital camera and used it to take pictures of people she interacted with long before she knew of the existence of the popular Humans of New York project.

When she returned to Paris, Pfeiffer was intrigued by Humans of New York's popularity and jokingly said she could be the Humans of New York for Paris.

Two years later, she started Gueules de Parisiens — which can be translated to "Faces of Parisians" — a photography blog featuring almost 150 portraits of people who reside in the city.



But unlike Humans of New York, Pfeiffer didn't set out to get a quote from a person about something going on in their life.

"The stories are not so much about the individual, but more about the chemistry and serendipity of meeting someone," she said to A Plus.

When she's on the hunt for a portrait, Pfeiffer said that keeping her ears open and listening to her surroundings is what inspires her to ask people if she can take their photo, something that she also notes needs to be super genuine before she even snaps a picture.

"Sometimes I'm just walking in the street and I hear people behind me or I'm sitting in a cafe and I hear someone next to me," she said, "and just their conversation and the tone of their voice, I think, 'Those people must be really interesting.' "

After she's done interacting with them, Pfeiffer writes a short story of what happens, and posts it in both French and English on her website and social media pages.

Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

Pfeiffer's photographic journey thus far has connected her with all sorts of people. She recalls taking a picture of an older man who wasn't interested in giving her his contact information, something she typically collects to send a subject the picture she took of them, and forgot about the interaction.

But since she's developing a magazine and a potential book down the line, she needed to get people's permission before including them in any other medium. Someone then pointed out the Pfeiffer that he was the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company in Europe and finally got his permission to use his image.  When she posted the picture on her blog's Instagram page, his niece coincidentally commented on it and now the two are friends.

She recalled another time when she was intrigued by a young woman who was using a map to navigate to a café in Paris. She approached her and led her to her destination where they had a conversation about what it means to have a digital detox.

"Sometimes I don't even know anything about this person's life at all even after we spent 30 minutes together," she said, "because somehow I manage to engage with them in a different way and that's really what I like."

Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

Pfeiffer moved to New York City a few months ago and still receives positive feedback from people who still follow her Parisian blog.

"My community is not hundreds of thousands of people," she said, "but the people who do follow are extremely loyal, and also always drop a line or encourage me and that's been really awesome."

Although she's not in Paris at the moment, Pfeiffer is still referring to her French roots to navigate her photography.  She's currently working on self-publishing a magazine that will be a unique guide on what Paris is really like, avoiding any misconceptions or clichés that are typically attached with the European city.

"I'd like my book to be the first guide of Paris with no museum or shops but more like which vibe are you going to get in each neighborhood," she said.

Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

In the future, she also plans to start a photography project comparing New Yorkers to Parisians. For now, she hopes Gueules de Parisiens will give people a chance to break any stereotypes that Parisians are unapproachable.

"I want to send the message that Parisians, for me, are like rough diamonds," she said. "You've got to work on getting their trust but if you manage to get someone's trust then they will really open up in such an authentic way."

In just a span of two years, Pfeiffer has learned a lot as a photographer, from using Photoshop to gaining the ability to discipline herself as an artist. And while Pfeiffer plans to pursue a career in creative storytelling, her photography will never be on the backburner.  

"For me, it's like an outlet and it's really a way to share my passion for my city and for people generally speaking," she said. "It's always going to be a big part of my life."

Discover the Parisian streets through Pfeiffer's work below:

1.

Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens


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Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

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Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

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Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

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Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

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Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

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Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens
Photo Credit: Gueules de Parisiens

Check out more of Pfeiffer's work by visiting her website or Instagram.



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