We may be biased, but we think Chattanooga is a pretty cool place to call home.

The beauty of the mountains; downtown architecture and art; and the rich, often dark, history combine to reflect our own unique aesthetic essence.

But what if you could see Chattanooga with fresh eyes? Everything again for the first time?

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Benoît Felten is an independent analyst based out of Paris, France. His expertise lies in fiber-to-home networks with a focus on the impact it has on economic development.

As a leader in fiber to home, Chattanooga had been on his radar for a while, and he decided to plan a visit last December to learn more about the fiber network.

Felten also happens to be an amateur photographer, and he enjoys taking the time to “stroll” with his camera.

He captured several shots while in town, including a beautiful photograph of the Walnut Street Bridge and a Coca-Cola advertisement. Click here to see his photos.

We asked him to describe our city with fresh eyes and to tell us a bit about his experience while in Chattanooga.

Aesthetically, from a photographer’s perspective, what interested you most about our city?

Cities, especially when you get to the kind of size Chattanooga is, are very different in Europe, where I come from. They’re a lot more compact, for a start, and often feature a historical city center that’s very different from Chattanooga’s downtown. What I really liked walking around Chattanooga early in the morning (I walked from The Chattanoogan Hotel, where I was staying, all the way to the North Shore) was this sense of a loose urban fabric. It has a much more relaxed feel than what I’m used to. Also, I haven’t been in the South much, but there was definitely a Southern feel to it. It’s hard to describe; it’s a collection of little things and images (not necessarily photographs). Also, the light was gorgeous and felt different to what I’m used to. As to what interested me the most, it’s everything, really. Like most photographers, I have some pet topics, things that I know will produce interesting shots. For me, it’s patterns, and that photo of the Walnut Street Bridge fit that bill perfectly. But some other shots, like the one of the old Coke advert, just appealed to me because you wouldn’t see that in Europe.

You enjoy using film, correct? Why is that? What are the pros of analog versus digital, in your opinion as an artist?

I use both digital and film. Increasingly, though, when I’m visiting a city I don’t know, I’ll take just a film camera, a few rolls and a couple of lenses. I like the aesthetic of film, but more importantly, it’s a different process than digital. Knowing that you have a finite number of shots makes you think about what you’re going to shoot and why. It slows you down, and that’s a great way of discovering a new place because you don’t know if and when you’ll see a good shot. Now that I know the city a little better, if I come back I might take a digital camera to do some things it’s better-suited for, like long-exposure photos of the Tennessee River. Incidentally, on the North Shore, I found a fantastic little photography shop and studio called Studio Space Junk. I found some really funky rolls of film there, brands I’d never had a chance to try, and even bought a secondhand camera. It’s a great place for any photo enthusiast!


At this point, Felten has no definite plans to return to Chattanooga, that is, unless he becomes involved in business opportunities or things happening on the broadband side.

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