Using colour film for his city photography, Peter Cornelius captured night club Pigall’s neon light reflections shimmering in a puddle.
It was not the famous landmarks of Paris that interested Peter Cornelius. If we do catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower or the Sacré-Coeur, they are never the main subjects of the photograph. What Cornelius was looking for in his photographic city portrait was Paris brimming with life.
Cornelius often sets the scene with a flower stand or a glass window in the foreground, adding frames and depth to complement the vibrant colours of life in the streets. This is not a photographer who stands back to wait for the perfect scene to unfold – this point of view is from street level and reflect a fleeting moment. We see cars, push carts, motor bikes, trains moving out of a station, trams in streets and barges in waterways, and all over the city passersby are rushing on pavements, crossing the streets, emerging from the Métro, driven by a sense of purpose.
Peter Cornelius manages to capture the experience of a visitor to the French capital. The photographs are snapshots of movement, yet pay attention to composition and colour.