Landen Kerr arrived in Paris, France in the fall of 2012 as a student. Upon her arrival to the French capital, she had no idea she would fall in love with this photogenic city. She imagined travel around Europe and then returning to Texas.
Instead, she decided to move her life full-time to Paris where she now works as a full-time photographer, writer, and travel planner. Her collection of photography has gained her thousands of followers on Instagram and made photography a full-time job in France.
This article will explore her success as a French photographer and how her love for Paris turned into a new life and place to call home.
Tell us where you are from and how you got started in photography?
I’m originally from Dallas, Texas but am now based in Paris. My first introduction to photography was when my parents gave me disposable cameras to use on family vacations. Soon after, I got my first Polaroid camera and then moved onto point and shoot digital cameras. When I studied abroad in Paris in 2012 it really felt like my world and eyes opened. There was inspiration everywhere I turned and that’s something that’s continued until this day.
You mainly photograph Paris scenes, talk about how you decide where to shoot?
I very rarely set out with the intention to shoot something specific. Usually I just walk around and see something that catches my eye. The thing about Paris is there’s always something whether it’s a door, an architectural detail, or a beautiful reflection on the river.
Oftentimes I may have walked by something hundreds of times, but the light happens to be just perfect. To me this is part of the magic and the allure of Paris when things just seemingly present themselves in a way that’s begging to be photographed.
Favorite places to shoot in Paris and why?
I love photographing the Musée du Louvre whether it’s from across the Seine, inside the Jardin des Tuileries, or up close. There are so many different perspectives and the different exquisite little details jump out depending on the time of day or the season.
I live on the Left Bank and love walking around Saint-Germain-des-Prés and taking photos. There are so many great cafés to photograph and they’re such a quintessential part of life in Paris. I think it’s just a beautiful timeless, representation of the city.
Any advice for people wanting to shoot in Paris?
I wear my camera around my neck and always have my phone ready to grab. If I’m walking around and see something I love, I want to be able to take the photo quickly. The light can change or someone can move into the frame and it completely changes the shot. I’ve also learned to stop right when I see a shot because moving even just one more step can change it.
If the weather is nice, I recommend waking up early to shoot. If you can get outside just as the sun is rising it’s really wonderful. The entire city seems to be still and the light is truly breathtaking. It’s almost like watching Paris wake up. You can catch people setting up the café chairs and getting ready for the day and get some really clean photos without as many people and cars in the background.
You often shoot with your iPhone, what is your favorite way to edit the photos after?
I edit all of my iPhone pictures directly in Photos. I never edit things too drastically and sometimes you can barely tell that I’ve changed anything, but I just like to make the colors really pop. I’ve gotten more comfortable using the perspective tools and will adjust those as well.
If I’m going to share a photo to my Instagram feed, I crop it in the 4:5 aspect ratio and also export it through VSCO. I don’t use any of the VSCO filters, but I think it helps mitigate Instagram image compression and leaves you with the highest quality image possible.
How has Paris changed your photography?
For me Paris is the ultimate subject and muse. It’s the perfect backdrop and there’s always something new to discover. I love all of the little details you notice while walking around the city and it really allowed me to hone in and focus.
Instagram has become a great marketing tool for you, talk about how you built up your following?
On Instagram I really make a point of trying to share something from that day as much as possible. I always do that in stories, but I really strive for it on my feed as well. I think my community enjoys and appreciates the authenticity and the fact that they’re seeing Paris or France on that actual day. I try to stay in my lane and photograph what I like. I do pay attention to what my home feed looks like as a whole as well because I think it’s important for first impressions and for people to see my style of photography.
I’ve really grown my following over the past year and I think that’s due to being consistent – I pretty much always post to my feed every single day around the same time. Instead of just geotagging “Paris,” I try to be as specific as possible because I think there’s a higher chance you’ll end up on the popular tab for longer. I definitely got lucky timing wise with the pandemic because I had a captive audience who couldn’t travel. People really appreciate seeing the photos and write me the kindest messages, which is a huge motivation to keep posting.
Advice for other photographers wanting to get started?
Find a niche that you’re passionate about, put yourself out there, and get started. If you’re self-taught like me, don’t try to learn everything at once but rather learn as you go. Get to know your camera and what settings you like – YouTube can be really helpful for this. Sign up for workshops whether they’re online or in-person – it can be so helpful watching someone explain something to you versus trying to read it and figure it out on your own.
What is the most difficult part of taking photos in Paris?
Unless I’m photographing a café scene, I don’t like people in my photos. I love looking at other people’s photos with people in them, but it’s not my style. Sometimes I have to wait for a long time to get the shot that I want without a person or a car or something else in it. Patience is really important. I’ve gotten very used to a relatively empty Paris with the pandemic so that will be a tough adjustment for me.
Who and what inspires your photography?
The way of life in France inspires everything about my photography. I find it endlessly beautiful and find the different regions fascinating. When I started it Paris was my biggest inspiration, but now Normandy and my other travels in France are as well.
Favorite photographers on Instagram?
Instagram is such a great place to discover photographers. I think the team at @seemyparis does such a wonderful job of showcasing Paris in a beautiful and authentic way. I also love following @jamiebeck.co, she’s so incredibly talented and I’m so inspired by her work and process. I’ve also loved watching @graymalin’s journey and how he’s expanded his business.
How do you keep your work evolving?
I try to be a “yes” person and say yes to as many types of projects as I can. Sometimes the projects are way out of my comfort zone, but they push me creatively and technically. I learned Photoshop on the go because I needed to use it for a job, and the same for creating videos. I don’t enjoy every project, but it’s a good way to test and learn and see what I do really enjoy.
Are you selling prints? Any business advice?
I am selling prints! I really don’t like promoting myself so that was difficult initially. But if you have a platform to promote yourself on, don’t be shy about using it. People are bombarded by so many things that you need to tell them explicitly to “look.”
I think it’s also very important to have a variety of different types of prints and sizes available because you never know what people are going to want. Don’t be afraid to adjust as you go – photos that I almost didn’t add to my print shop have been top sellers and I went back and added additional sizes based on requests.
Any iPhone camera tips and tricks?
The most important tip is to always make sure your lens is clean. It sounds so obvious but it’s so important. I’m crazy about this because I think it makes such a big difference in the quality of the photo and just makes it look really crisp and clear.
What is your favorite photography quote?
“You just have to life and life will give you pictures” – French photographer: Henri Cartier-Bresson
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the life and photography of Landen Kerr in Paris! Are you dreaming of becoming a travel photographer or love the idea of shooting in France?
Check out our articles on the best street photographers and how to shoot landscapes to start your journey to becoming a full-time photographer. Lastly, thanks to Landen Kerr for sharing her insights and life with her our wonderful readers! Drop us a comment if you have questions or comments for Landen!