This is a post long, long overdue, but now during the Christmas and New Year Period i've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to catch up with it all. I've had weddings to shoot & edit, we've got a baby on the way (now overdue at the time of writing this) and in between that I've had a house full with people staying for Christmas. So, suffice to say I've been a little quiet on the Social Media and blogging side of things. But, I'm back now and today I want to share with you some photographs I made back in October in London...
On Sunday 20th October I led a photo walk in London with some extremely talented and very fun photographers from the Guild of Photographers.
In what initially was just a small idea that was batted around - we ended up running a full photo walk in London for the day. It was a huge success. With 11 of us in attendance we set about photographing the sights, scenes and people of London.
So, today, right here in this post I want to share a few of my photographs from this trip with you. I'll talk a little about each one and how it came to be:
So this first photograph (above) was one of the very first photographs I made on the day. Some of the photographers that joined us on the walk were a little apprehensive about photographing strangers and weren't keen on asking for their permission. Well, if you don't ask you don't get. So to demonstrate that all you have to do is be confident and polite you'll find you're more than likely to get complete strangers agreeing to have their photographs taken. I found this chap to be really interesting and like most of my work from this day I felt a contrasty black and white was in order.
This particular character was sitting on a bicycle/taxi thing in Covent Garden (our arranged meeting place). He was reading a book as I approached him, waiting for his next fayre I can only assume. When I asked "Excuse me, would you mind at all If I made your photograph?"
"Sure" he replied. So, I made two frames as he continued to read and then I asked him to look directly into the camera, and that's how this shot came to be. I thanked him for his time, wished him a pleasant day and moved on.
See, not so hard.
I had actually arrived in London early this day, first thing in the morning. I planned to make some photographs in the Golden Hour as the sun rose and then have some breakfast before I met up with the group. I decided that I was going to walk everywhere this day and use the tube as little as possible. Although I love the tube and it's excellent to get around, I just wanted to be up and about and enjoy London. I had visited Paris with my now-wife in 2010 and we walked everywhere, using the Metro only once on the last day due to exhaustion! We found that we stumbled across so much that we'd have missed if we were bee-lining directly to our tourist sites on the public transport. We really did see a great many things by chance, because we walked.
So, I walked aimlessly and didn't really give thought to where I was heading. As you do, I stumbled upon St. Paul's Cathedral and spotted this rather intense looking guy on the steps. I took a seat, waited for my opportunity to photograph him and then left. I was sure to make use of leading lines here. On this occasion I felt making his portrait and disturbing him wouldn't only annoy him (as he seemed to be enjoying what he was reading) but it would also be a moment lost. Reading a booking on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral.
As I mentioned back in the very first photograph the meeting place for our group on this Sunday was Covent Garden, just outside the Apple Store. It's public and obvious and everyone knows where it is! Before setting off and making our way for South Bank we stayed for a short while to photograph the always-excellent street performers.
Jugglers, actors, stuntmen and musicians all gather here to show off their talents and make a little money in the process. It's one of the beautiful things about London, there are people everywhere willing to entertain you. Strangely though most of them are amazingly talented and I'm sure should be doing far better to the point where they have record deals or are at least gracing our Radio Stations. They're certainly far more talented than the acts you see on the reality TV programs. (I digress). Alas, it's not always to be. It just means we get to listen and enjoy when we're out in London.
Acoustic musicians singing a mix of their own original work and re-works of popular current music are a mainstay of the performances you can usually find in Covent Garden. This young lady was singing her heart out to the crowd that had gathered around her. This was another instance where the group began to photograph her from 'behind the lines' as it were, standing with the other onlookers. I opted instead to get in close: I threw a few pounds into her Guitar case, she nodded in appreciation. I help up the camera as if to gesture "Is it okay for me to make your photograph?" and she nodded again and continued her performance. I made a fair few frames from a low angle, being sure not to get in the way for the other people who had gathered to enjoy her performance. I moved back after getting my shots and let the other members of the group do the same.
So, in true British style, it rained on this day. It rained a lot! The heavens opened and by gosh it got wet, fast. Just before the downpour though we had some fun at Somerset House whilst en-route to South Bank (thanks Liz for being tour guide / navigator). I asked my fellow Guild members to stand in various places in between the fountains using the rule of odds. Poor Marta there on the right is hidden behind a fountain, but the concept was good, in my mind at least :)
Shortly after this shot it started to rain too much for us to stay outside for much longer. We made our way inside to wait for the shower to pass. In the UK the rain can really start and then top quite suddenly. Other times it can be relentless and rain non-stop all day. Fortunately for us the rain lasted only a short while. So we headed inside to chat about our experience of the day so far and to see how people felt about approaching strangers, now that we'd been doing it all morning.
This is a portrait of my fellow Guild Member Jakub Voza. Jackub was a really interesting guy and I'm so pleased he made it on this day to join us. I found Jakub very creative and very quirky and good fun to shoot with. As the rain came we retreated inside to Somerset House where we settled for a good 30 - 45 minutes with a hot drink (for some; a glass of wine) whilst things dried up. The rain just didn't stop, but neither did the conversation or the banter. We all enjoyed each other's companies and chewed the fat, so to speak.
At some point the rain had to stop, right? Well, it did eventually. We seized the moment and made our way back outside to a refreshed and invigorated London. The air was clean and there was now a different feel and texture to everything as leaves were battered down from the trees and puddles formed everywhere, giving us the chance to play a few games with the reflections. Everything had a silvery metallic look to it now that the rain had been. (again, perhaps this is just the way I saw things?!)
After a short time of playing with reflections and doing a few more group shots outside Somerset House we continued with the original plan and made our way to South Bank. Always an interesting place to be. As we started walking I held back and got this shot of the gang walking off.
So, just over the bridge from Somerset House was our destination: London's South Bank. A riverside setting lined with places to eat, a quirky old book shop under the bridge, more performers and even a Skate Park! If you're in London - South Bank is a great little place to check out. It's on the same side of the river as the London Eye, just a minutes walk away.
In this shot (above), i grabbed this lovely couple as they walked by and convinced them to model for the group. They were more than willing.
Seeing as this one is in Black and White also - what you can't see is the amazingly vibrance and redness of the wood behind this lovely couple. We took a walk over the river and spotted this large, red wooden structure. I think we all had the same thing in mind when we wanted to use it as a backdrop. I gathered up a few South Bank Pedestrian's and guided them towards this back drop for the other photographers to use as models, but I had to save this couple for myself! I asked them to squeeze in nice and close, keep each other warm and forget about the odd set of people with massive camera's behind me. The laugh I was expecting came right out and after a few short moments settled into these lovely natural smiles. What a great couple!
Save South Bank! After moving on from our fun using the big red background we were again on the search for willing passers by to pose and model for us. As we walked by the skate park in South Bank I was summoned over by this gentleman who insisted I signed the petition he and his colleague had going to Save Southbank! "What's happening to Southbank" I asked. "What does it need saving from?"
"They're going to knock down this skate park and small recreational area down to build more shops and retail units in addition to all the shops they already have along this part of the river" he explained
"Your Portrait in exchange for my signature" I offered...
Then this picture was made. Such a great smiler. I only took 1 or 2, but knew that I'd nailed it. What a willing model.
Shortly after this a few of the other photographers from the group asked him for his photograph. I said "Go on, go for it. I'll get you some signatures!". So, as promised I set about getting people walking by to come over and sign the signatures. By the time Andrea from our group had finished making his portrait (Andrea asked him to move over to one side and pose next to the Skate Park) I had gathered a small queue of about 6 or 7 people and had them ready to sign the petition.
Everyone's a winner. I get a photograph and I help his cause for him. Call it an exchange of services!
We'd spent so much time in South Bank, and thanks to the earlier rain we were running behind a little bit. We had a table reserved at an Italian place about 10 minutes walk from where we were. So, as we all slowly started to make our way towards the restaurant we walked back along South Bank. That's when I spotted these guys...
This couple were very, very into one another. I was actually the other side of them, shooting a musician (see next photograph) with the sunset behind her. Keen to keep up with the group I started to speed walk and realised this couple were having a very passionate and public engagement and show of affection. I was at this point on the 70-200mm (your perfect Street Photography Lens...not!) so was able to crop in and frame the loving couple. I had to take this shot a few times in a bid to remove the passers by from the scene.
As I mentioned above most of my shots from today were black and white. I also mentioned a performer with an amazingly dramatic and colourful skyline. This was her. The option was to go for Flash (in the bag in the pouch) or shoot and embrace the silhouette or risk grabbing the flash and missing the quickly fading light. In hindsight I wouldn't change a thing about this one. The silhouette makes this so much more fun. It could be anyone and anywhere.
So, that's it for today. Those are my 10 favourite shots from the Guild of Photographers London Street Photo Walk, arranged and organised by yours truly. We will of course be doing this again, it goes without saying. It was great fun. Not only making the photographs, but just being around other creatives and other photographers; seeing how differently people shoot the same scene and subject.
I hope you've enjoyed these photographs?
If you have any questions or comments, or are interested i attending a future photo walk please drop a comment below, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.