I’m not gonna lie. 2018 was not my favourite year.
No year is ever going to beat 2015 for sheer suckiness – it was the year that I lost my dad, who was both my best friend and my muse. But 2018 had a damn good stab at the competition. That said, at the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, something happened. I “discovered” street photography (on a personal level, obviously. I’ve not yet reached a level of arrogance that would have me claiming to have literally invented the genre. Although according to the precedent set by a handful of other Instagrammers, I’m potentially only a year or so off of that. I’m joking. Probably).
I inherited my love of photography and enormous hair from my father
In reality, it’s impossible for me to ever develop any kind of arrogance, and that is because I am the mother of teenagers, who keep my feet firmly on the ground. Case in point: on Christmas Eve, I walked to Sainsbury’s with my fifteen year old. Mid-journey, and completely unprovoked, she glanced at me and announced, “It’s funny: I’m still at an age where I prioritise style over practicality”.
I’ll admit, I was sans make up (because we were going to Sainsbury’s, and I’m not out to impress anybody there. Jamie Oliver’s not my type), but that aside, I genuinely thought I was also still at an age where I prioritised style over practicality. She smiled when I told her so. “It’s like your jacket,” she said. “I’d never wear that. Those jackets don’t look good on anybody”.
The moral of this tangent is that obviously I have no idea what’s good. But I’m deluded enough to think I do, so I’ve written a blog post about precisely that.
My “official” Instagram Top 9 of 2018 keeps changing. It’s like the Grand National with no potential monetary reward (but an equal amount of dead horses).
I’ll post the final figures on my Instagram on NYE, because apparently that’s the done thing. In the meantime, this is my personal “Instagram Top 10 of 2018”. That’s right. 10. Because what is the point of owning a website if I don’t make my own rules? I noticed once I’d selected them that they were all taken during the latter half of 2018, which I’m quite pleased about, because that shows progress, right? And not just that my photography was terrible for the first six months.
Let’s do this…
This one was fun. He knew what I was doing, and he did an awesome job of pretending that he didn’t. I loved all the red accents – the band on the girl’s sleeve, the drink, the broom handle, and the stool – and it took a while to frame everything up the way I wanted it. In the meantime, he occasionally looked up suspiciously from his phone, and I in return loudly commented about how much I liked the magnets he was selling. Good times.
Date Posted: 10 September 2018. Likes received: 343
“Oooh, roller-skates…” I muttered excitedly under my breath as she walked towards me. London is packed full of cool, interesting people, but occasionally someone will cross my path who’s just a whole other level. I’ve mentioned in my Instagram captions before that I like to play a game when I’m doing street photography where I fantasise that I’m shooting models for Vogue. A girl can dream. So this candid street portrait has become my favourite “editorial” shot of 2018.
Date Posted: 17 November 2018. Likes received: 369
I don’t know what’s going on with the funky border, either. I do like to play with edit styles when I’m bored, and apparently back in August, I was feeling funky borders. I captioned the Instagram post with “You never see Mickey Mouse shoving his head into a bag at Disneyland #londonthings”, which I think was the first caption that opened the floodgates to me writing whatever the hell I wanted on my Instagram posts. This was also probably one of the first times that I’d consciously waited for complimentary colours in my composition, rather than just snapping optimistically.
Date Posted: 3 August 2018. Likes received: 373
I LOVE low contrast photographs. I’d half-jokingly asked Instagram for recommendations of colours to look out for on my next shoot, to give me a little project to focus on. “Orange and blue” was hard, but it was really satisfying when I spotted this girl in the crowd at Brick Lane market. I’m definitely going to take a more planned approach to my street photography in 2019, with more deliberate series and themes. When I’m consciously looking for specific elements, it really focuses my observational skills and makes for better compositions.
Date Posted: 22 October 2018. Likes received: 398
I love this photograph, not only because it shows Chinatown’s most popular fire escape/al fresco dining location, but because this is legitimately the only time all year that I spotted any fly posters in the area. They had been removed by the time I returned the following week, which was a shame, because they were super cute.
Date Posted: 29 July 2018. Likes received: 275
I’ve tried to like night photography. I really have. But this is the one and only time all year that I’ve succeeded in taking an after dark photograph that I’m actually happy with. I need to spend more time in 2019 watching helpful YouTube videos to work out where I’m going wrong.
Date Posted: 17 September 2018. Likes received: 328
Work that London attitude. This was one of those photographs that I really hoped looked as good as it did in-camera. According to the dates, this is apparently the first street photograph that I was truly happy with having taken, and I suppose that’s probably true. I did have more of a “spray and pray” style in the first half of 2018, which I think is necessary to build up confidence, but doesn’t really produce the greatest images.
Date Posted: 20 July 2018. Likes received: 291
As the year has progressed, I’ve favoured taking wider images, but I like the shallow depth of field on this candid street portrait, and the unusual angle of the shot. I was feeling really brazen that day, and took quite a few close-ups of various people around Brick Lane market. I went for more muted tones in post-production than I had done before on previous photographs (I think this was based on an Essence preset in VSCO X), and I was really pleased with the result.
Date Posted: 23 October 2018. Likes received: 1333
I tried for a similar shot every time I’ve been out. I can’t even explain the immense feeling of satisfaction when I finally succeeded on my very last street shoot of the year. It’s by far my most liked Instagram photograph of 2018, so it was worth the constant frustration to finally get it. Personal satisfaction, and hollow social media-based validation. The ultimate combo.
I over-optimistically claimed that I would write a London Diaries blog post for last week, despite the fact that it has been Christmas, and obviously I was never going to find the time. But as promised, here’s the three shutter clicks that it took to get this photograph.
Date Posted: 21 December 2018. Likes received: 5623
This is the only photograph I’ve reposted on Instagram all year, because it absolutely had to make it into my Top 9, goddammit. Thank you for listening to my pleading and liking it all the way up to number 3. For me, it’s totally number 1, though. I hope to take everything I’ve learned from my first year of street photography, and produce many more photographs that I’m equally as proud of in 2019.
Date Posted: 13 September 2018. Likes received: 702
Reposted 22 December 2018. Likes received: 2181
I started 2018 with the hope of reaching 3K followers by the end of the year as @that_fujifilmgirl , and miraculously it happened. I’m so grateful for everybody’s support for the past twelve months, and I really appreciate all the encouraging comments so many of you leave me. I hope that 2019 WILL be my favourite year, and that all of us remain happy, creative and inspired. This is descending into a cringefest, and I’m too British for such an Oscars-esque speech, so I’ll leave it there. Happy New Year to you all.
Love from London x