Recently graduated from UCA Farnham, Claire specialises in portraiture photography with her current project Cleanse exploring the self-healing process of bathing.
Before Friday 13th November I had never been to Paris before, so the whole journey had me full of excitement. A weekend away from my studies soaking in the Parisian culture with some great company, bliss! My friends and I arrived at our hostel that evening and got ready for a Photobook launch along the river. We reached the metro deep in excited conversation, only interrupted when a friend of mine got the first “are you okay?” text message.
Unaware of what was actually happening, we continued our journey through the city until we reached the boat. The music was off along with most of the lights and there was an unnerving hum of anxious muttering. I checked my phone for the first time that evening to try and understand what was going on, only to be greeted with: “Have you seen the news?”, “Where in Paris are you?!”, “Please answer me”. The only thing we could do was wait. Sirens streaking through the streets triggered a lot of worrying amongst my friends, and the only thing that kept us sane (as photography students) was to take photos. There was a traditional photo booth on the boat that acted as a mild distraction from the horrific events that was occurring so close by. It had a calming effect, as it was the only thing familiar to us all.
The night ended at 2am on the floor of a nearby hotel as travelling was not safe for such a large group. No one spoke; we all just lay there in shock at what was happening just a few miles away, sobbing for all those who weren’t as lucky as us. Having to check in that I was “safe” on Facebook the next day was when it actually sunk in what had happened.
I processed my roll of film a week or so later in my university, nervous about what I had captured. I struggled with sleep for a few weeks after the trip, but after seeing my photographs it almost acted as closure. They became a fourth wall for me and allowed me to disassociate myself from the event, which was helpful. I sincerely hope that those who were closely affected by this tragedy will one day get the same closure.