The French word piéton means pedestrian.
This is a photo documentary showcasing a collection of 25 uniquely different illuminated pedestrian crossing signs discovered all across France in the early 1990’s.
This book about pedestrians is anything but pedestrian. It is multifaceted in that it covers detailed photographic techniques, an interesting and distinctive collection of double exposure photographs on color film all taken at night, unique adventures and descriptive details.
The take-away message conveyed by this book is to, ‘encourage people to explore, to go by foot, to roam about.
Searching for Piétons
Little did I know that while exploring Paris with my daughter Jen in the
fall of 1991, a simple observation would lead to a near obsession for
the next two years. We were roaming about the bustling streets of Paris
paying witness to the magnificent Botero statues exhibited on the Champs
.lys.es when waiting to cross the street I happened to take notice of
the illuminated pedestrian crossing sign (IPCS). While at first this
sign did not evoke anything beyond a casual disclaimer, it was having
approached the next street corner that I couldn’t help but notice that
this particular illuminated pedestrian crossing sign was distinctly
different from the previous. What at first seemed a mere oddity perhaps
typifying the penchant for the French to embrace even the most seemingly
simple things in such a stylistic fashion, turned out to be the
beginnings of a quest to reveal the extent of yet another artistic forum
for expression. I often wonder if even the French realize the
pervasiveness of their innate preoccupation with style and
uniqueness…but of course they do!
What initially was a curiosity, evolved into something short of a crazed
obsession, an obsession to discover the extent and diversity of
illuminated pedestrian crossing signs throughout France. At the
beginning I had absolutely no idea how many different illuminated
pedestrian crossing signs I would end up finding. I do remember that I
was quite surprised when I found the 5th, then 6th, then astonishingly
the 7th, and thought... hey, this is pretty good, but if someone had
told me that there were over two dozen I never would have believed
it...never. So needless to say the more I discovered the more intrigued
I was to find another, then another...hence the near obsession. Only in
France would one expect to find such examples embodying style and
variety for something so commonplace as illuminated pedestrian crossing
It turns out that I discovered at least twenty-five distinctly different
IPCS and immortalized the images on film including at last, in the
summer of 1993, the elusive ‘Man in the Hat’. I am not certain
whether the ‘Man in the Hat’ image came to me in a previous dream or
whether I had seen it before at some point in the past. What I did know
was that this image was etched in my mind from some previous encounter
although the actual revelation remained a mystery. Regardless, the quest
to find him again had the makings of a compulsion as much if not more
than it did adding another distinct IPCS to the ever increasing tally. I
had to find him.
It wasn’t just a matter of simply photographing the images, which in
itself was a unique experience but that each resultant photograph
represented a double exposure in order to capture both the red and green
figure on the same film frame negative. Photographic details pertaining
to the double exposure technique will follow.
Excerpted from "In Search of Piétons: a photo documentary" by Bill Bolton. Copyright © 2015 by Bill Bolton. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Bill Bolton is an amateur photographer, inventor, veterinarian, deck designer/builder and more importantly a seasoned modern day flâneur with an insatiable desire to explore and discover.
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