An English phone salesman and a famous French photographer.

What could an English, twenty something phone salesman and a famous French humanitarian photographer possibly have in common?

As I was attending an exhibition and film about the life of Robert Doisneau recently in Nice, France I was reminded of an ex who had the same philosophy about life and it’s something that as live in carers we can face as a challenge every day.

Musee de la photographie

Of course some people are so much better at practising what they preach and some of us still struggle.

So, what was the scene in the Robert Doisenaau film that prompted my memory and how does it apply to carers?

I will have to paraphrase as I can’t find the exact clip.

Robert is in a typical Parisian cafe with a friend. The friend is shocked by the waiter who has apparently been rude to Robert. The friend asks Robert. Did you hear him? Aren’t you going to say anything?!

Cool as a cucumber Robert replied. Why, are you going to live with him?!

Many in the audience laughed out loud, me included.

I think the phrase…Life’s too short, comes to mind. In other words, how many times do we react and or comment when something is said, when really ( here comes another cliche) Let it go, is the best option.

My young friend in his twenties in the 1990s was fond of reminding me not to overreact or even, react at all to situations. I can picture him now, doing his famous, hand waving over his head, implying, let it go over you not through you. He was so right.

Both these guys had/have a fiercely independent spirit and wouldn’t settle for just making do when making the most of life was/is always an option, even if it doesn’t always seem obvious.

Many of the current ninety year olds grew up in the ‘make do and mend’ era and in many cases this applied to their lives in general.

As carers I think we have to bear in mind that the freedoms that us baby boomers have had growing up can rankle with our clients.

It’s fine line, a tightrope to walk when sharing ‘our stories’ (if the client asks) and knowing how far to go.

How will we feel when some young thing ( often 70+) and we are in our dotage, comes in with wonderful tales of adventure.

So, here’s the thing. When someone says something, seemingly to be unkind, it’s more about them than you and staying in the moment without reaction, then changing the subject is often the best way.

I guess overall, it’s mindfulness of the situation and pausing long enough to let it…go over your head.

A work in progress but I have improved…I hope.

There was one other interesting observation that Robert Doisneau made in the film….Through the Lens ( Robert Doisneau, Le Revolt du Merveilleux ) .

The beauty of his work, in case you don’t know it is about everyday life. He loved to wander through crowds, preferably unobserved and capture simple but often special moments. Many of his photographs cry out for a caption or two.

His work is enthused with love and humour. I would love to have met him.

As we nearly all have phones with cameras these days, capturing, dare I say, similar shots, is easy if you have the desire.

And this brings me to astute observation that Doisneau made about age and photography.

Again, paraphrasing, not quoting.

His friend observed the detail in a photograph taken by a young protege. Robert’s response was…That’s because he is young as we get older we see the bigger picture.

Picture postcard perfect

I took this photo earlier this year but now it reminds of this comment.

A picture postcard moment but the photo has been cropped. (by me)

For me, the original (see below) shows the bigger picture and the close up is something very different.


Both are true but represent totally different aspects which can relate to life in general.

Original Petworth picture

So…The client may be all, cosy armchair by the fire surrounded by photographs of grandchildren but  if you could pan out and back over a lifetime, it could be  a very different story. One you may never know.

Remember. Don’t take things personally and bear in mind the bigger picture.