21 Photographs That Capture the Best of Europe
From a couple kissing in Paris to the shining reflection of Big Ben, these photos, taken by Instagram sensation Qorz, capture the essence of 10 European cities.
JB Qorz has spent his career creating beautiful images, acting as a special-effects artist for international brands such as Saint Laurent and Renault, and stepping behind the camera lens for the likes of Coca-Cola and Sony. The French-born photographer and perennial traveller has also earned acclaim through his Instagram feed, where nearly half a million followers admire his dreamy, atmospheric images.
He shoots without a filter and often in the early morning hours, capturing rays of sunlight breaking through a pine forest or a streak of pink sky illuminating city streets. His aesthetic transcends language; he rarely titles or captions his work in great detail, preferring that his images communicate the essence of the places he visits.
“For me, photography is sharing emotions or even ideas that words cannot express,” Qorz says. Despite his serious talent, Qorz doesn’t take himself too seriously. “Creation is about living the moment,” he says. “It is all about revealing [a feeling] rather than trying to intellectualize it.”
The artist recently returned from a 10-city tour of Europe, during which he captured quiet corners and iconic landmarks with the nuanced perspective that continues to draw fans. We asked him to share some of his favourite shots, from the banks of the Bosphorus to the narrow streets of Florence. Here, he reveals the best of Europe through his lens.
Starlight at sunrise in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
On a quiet peninsula between Nice and Monaco, the historic Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, fronts the Mediterranean Sea. Qorz captured this image of the Hotel’s fragrant gardens just before daybreak. “I can see both the sun and the stars!” he remembers.
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Ancient meets modern in Istanbul
The 19th-century Ortaköy Mosque stands at the water’s edge very near Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus. The photographer was compelled by the juxtaposition between the neo-Baroque architecture of the mosque and the modern bridge that stretches behind it. “Istanbul is a city of many contrasts,” he says. “Sports cars and carriages, ultramodern bridges and old streets and mosques . . . it is a rich blend.”
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Streetcar scenes in Lisbon
Lisbon’s streetcars are iconic. For Qorz, capturing one in motion required a quick eye and some daredevil collaboration. “Here’s the tip,” he says. “Travel with your partner. Once you have found the right angle . . . [your partner] crosses the street and drops an item in the road to block traffic. Then you only have to take the picture and check that your partner is all right!” Our tip: Snap your streetcar photos from the safety of a sidewalk.
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Famed landmarks in London
Qorz’s many fans admire his ability to find a new perspective on oft-photographed destinations. “My goal is not to achieve a completely realistic photo,” he says, “but rather to . . . amplify travel through [a sense of timelessness].” The layered perspective of this image lures the viewer into the scene, which is, of course, London’s famous Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster.
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A winter morning in Moscow
Breakfast is served with views of the Kremlin and Red Square at Four Seasons Hotel Moscow, which Qorz described as a “Hotel in the middle of a city and its history.” On this snowy winter morning, the photographer captured the bustle of pedestrians amid the city’s famous buildings from a cosy perch.
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Perspectives in Paris
Though he was not born in Paris, Qorz spends much of his time there. Seeing the city with the fresh eyes of an artist “is a very interesting exercise,” he says. “Being confronted with a well-known place is like being confronted with oneself.” To capture this image of the Eiffel Tower, he pretended he was seeing it for the first time.
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A view of Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence
Just a sliver of the city’s most iconic landmark, peeking from beyond a quintessentially Italian street, “illustrates very well the moment I first saw Brunelleschi’s Duomo,” says Qorz.
This view invites a long look at the city’s quieter, more charming side, and conveys the experience of stumbling upon something magical while exploring a new destination.
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Life on the Vltava in Prague
As much as the photographer enjoys the improvisation of his craft, many of his shots require careful research and a lot of walking. To capture this image, he climbed above the city and waited for the boat in the foreground to come into view. The series of bridges that stretch across Prague’s Vltava River emphasize the city’s beauty and historic significance as a trading route between Eastern and Western Europe.
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Religious icons in St Petersburg
The colourful exterior of the Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood, with its onion domes and ornate stonework, is as magnificent as the interior. Mosaics cover nearly every inch of the cathedral, which is illuminated by golden chandeliers. Construction of the church began in 1883 on the site where Alexander II had been assassinated two years earlier.
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Building a story in Budapest
During his visit to Budapest in early December, Qorz came upon a father and son feeding a pair of gulls by the Chain Bridge at the bank of the Danube River. “In the morning I . . . discover what I did not see at our arrival by night. I hurry because I know it will be possible to capture the birds and the bridge at the same time. The bridge alone would not be enough. I have to build a story.”