For a travel guide to short breaks in cities across the world, one of my editorial clients commissioned me to shoot images for a feature called ’36 hours in Marseille’. The aim was to photograph a selection of places where weekend visitors to the city could go to get a good idea of what Marseille is all about.
Been, seen, done
I tend to wince when I hear people using the ‘do’ word to describe their travel experiences. “We’ve done Vietnam”, “I going to do Paris and London”. Such trips are generally conducted in short timeframes, under the assumption that, thanks to a full-immersion-sightseeing-visit, sufficient knowledge of a place can be acquired to last a lifetime. However, a few weeks ago, I got close to feeling that I had ‘done Marseille’.
I followed in the footsteps of the journalist. Seth had come to the South of France a few weeks before and written what was effectively the ‘to do list’ for the photographer – a crash course in France’s second largest city. Driving down from Nice one morning, I had little over 24 hours to photograph two beaches and a swimming pool, three restaurants, two bars, a hotel, two shopping districts, a spa and a boat cruise. Seth had described strong visual details in his article that I wanted to capture at several locations, down to particular dishes at one restaurant, and a retro ham slicing machine at another. Armed with sheaves of maps, addresses and scribbled notes, the experience felt strangely reminiscent of a treasure hunt.
The capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Marseille’s character is very different to that of smaller coastal towns further east like Nice and Cannes. The article and photos describe it better than I could: