Even when we're new to a place, it's often the case that we'll go from active observer to passive viewer very quickly. And usually the more common a feature is, the less likely we are to really see it.

Here in northern France, brick architecture reigns supreme. We're drowning in them, from red brick buildings to cobblestone streets, the streets of northern French towns are a pixelated tapestry of squares and mortar. Squint your eyes a little and it all blends into one homogenous mass of baked earth blocks.

A couple of days ago however, I popped in to the main FNAC (bookstore) in the town centre. One of the featured books was a photographic collection of northern French scenes. And there in front of me, on glossy A4, was a collection of images I see daily but have already stopped observing. Some of the images showcased the elaborate brickwork that underpins many of these northern buildings. And I admit that I, a self-confessed details-obsessed observer, have never noticed these shapes and patterns.

So on my next walk out around the town, I grabbed my camera and remembered to look up, to look closely, and to see.

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