Wielding a pen and a Canon 5D, these two compile Parisian moments and share them on their website and new bilingual magazine, with a first issue fresh off the press. With touching, intimate portraits, they are bringing all kinds of Parisian creative types out of the shadows: artists, fashion photographers-turned-florists, passionate artisans and more.
Contrary to appearances, Laurence and Fabrice are not native Parisians. She comes from Lyon and he is from Brittany, but their mutual attraction to Paris drew them into the city two years ago. The idea to create L’Instant Parisien came to them just before moving here, and they launched the site immediately upon arriving. Regularly posting chronicles of Parisian life allowed them to familiarize themselves with their new home city, which they now know intimately. L’Instant Parisien takes a sensitive and empathetic approach to the bright & wily artists working outside of the Parisian limelight. Now that the rush of putting out their first paper issue is over, Laurence took a moment to tell us about their project.
What led you to start L’Instant Parisien?
My partner is a photographer and videographer, and I started out as a journalist working in magazine publishing before moving toward digital media. But I quit working a few months ago so I could focus all my energy on this project.
What is your daily life like?
We split our time in half. Part of the time, we’re out interviewing people. The rest of the time, we stay at home writing articles and processing photos. More recently, we’ve been spending a lot of time out in the field gathering material for our second paper issue. But we try to switch back and forth regularly to avoid writing phases that last for weeks on end. We really love the dual aspect of our work since it allows us to have moments of solitude and moments of sharing.
How do you select the people you interview?
Oh, we don’t really have well-defined criteria. But obviously we want to interview people who have something to say, whether it’s because of their age, particular talent, or penchant for the fantastical. Our method isn’t well defined either, but we typically find people by scouring the internet.
Are the images on your Instagram haphazard or do you go out searching for Parisian moments?
Some of them happen by chance, but you have to keep in mind that with social media, we have to make sure we are publishing content regularly. We have to be on the lookout all the time, so I’m constantly looking around me. And we have favorite places for taking photos as well. Neighborhoods you don’t see as often on Instagram like the 20th arrondissement, with its little passageways and plant-filled courtyards, for example.
Were you influenced by any similar projects?
It’s not very original, but we like the American magazine Kin Folk and the German Freunde von Freunden. Both started out small and then had the forethought to put out both digital and paper versions of their magazines.
What motivated you to publish a paper version?
We had been working solely with digital for four years. It’s a great way to get your work out there and to build up a fan base, but paper is more durable and the quality feels higher than with other media. Even though the relationship between paper and digital is developing more and more, especially in the US, we also wanted to publish a paper version to distinguish ourselves. We hesitated as to whether we should have our magazine printed in France or abroad, where prices are sometimes more cost-effective. In the end, we went with a Parisian printer so we could guarantee the quality. It’s a choice we definitely do not regret.
You exceeded your crowd funding goal for this magazine. How would you explain your success?
We were just as surprised as anyone! But I think people are touched by the sincerity of our project. We’re just here to tell stories. And we’ve also developed a very lively community on social media.
The cover of your magazine has a Parisian café terrace on it. Do you think terraces are more symbolic of Paris than of other cities?
We were supposed to launch our crowd funding campaign four days after the attacks of November 13. The timing was awful, but we couldn’t backpedal at that point. And I don’t regret moving forward – life was able to overcome fear in Paris and café terraces have remained a favorite gathering place in the city. I feel like the symbolism of the Parisian café terrace is strong in our collective imaginations. That doesn’t necessarily mean there are more café terraces in Paris than in other places. But the thought of a Parisian bistro chair calls to mind a much more vibrant image than a bistro chair in any other country.
What’s your favorite café terrace in Paris?
I loved the terrace at a place where we went for coffee the other day. It looks like a little private garden and is the opposite of what you might expect to find in Paris: it’s a calm, green little bubble disconnected from the buzz of the city. This little terrace is part of the Hôtel des Marronniers at 21 rue Jacob in the 6th arrondissement. But you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to enjoy it. It’s open to the public every day until 11:30pm.
How has your perspective on Paris changed since you created your website?
We’ve always loved Paris, so we didn’t have any particular expectations when we arrived here. We thought of Paris as a very cosmopolitan city and that belief has held true. With our work, we try to faithfully represent the multiplicity of the city and its inhabitants. For example, the paper issue includes a section on artists of African origin working with wax paper, an article on a ceramist from Tokyo and another about three bootmakers who are around 80 and 90 years old.
Is there an interview that was particularly memorable for you?
The bootmakers. They lived in Doisneau’s Paris, so their stories are lovely. And beyond that, they both remember what it was like here during the war. With such a rich history, they were obviously going to have good stories to share.
What’s next for you?
We are going to shift our focus back to publishing articles online more regularly. With all the work it took to put out our first paper issue, we had kind of set aside that part of our work for a while. We’re also working on putting out our second issue which should come out in late October or November 2016.
Photos: L’instant Parisien / Article translated by Andrea Perdue
Discover cultural and alternative spots in Paris with our free city guide Indie Guides Paris.