I must admit I missed the "conflict" in the image. If I had taken it I would have moved to the right and framed out the clutter on the left and taken the hotel as the focal point.
Yes, and I would have probably done exactly the same thing. Most of the time when I am out making photographs I am routinely and completely subconciously "screening-out" clutter and desperately trying to re-arrange reality to fit my world-view of what is pictorially "correct". But this Paris picture has a different kind of strength, in my view. As Geoffrey said elsewhere, when we are out there
, we can only frame, not compose.
We would have to ask Geoffrey himself, as he is the only one who can say, but I did not mean to imply that the picture was "about" the conflict between the old and new. I just mentioned that it contained that element. There are a number of very subtle dynamics within the frame, all of which contribute to its emotional effect. By moving the camera to the right, these would have been altered or lost. The resulting picture might have been more like what Stamper or John Smith might have felt about it, but merely different, not necessarily better, and very likely losing a certain moody tension which appeals to me.
Perhaps there sometimes comes a point in our work where it is necessary to unlearn what we think we already know. Otherwise we can get trapped in a prison of our own making, where we miss the essence of place and time by imposing our own rigid method of "seeing" on everything around us.