Wow, it’s been a busy week so far! The Curious Camera Club HQ (AKA whatever branch of Costa Coffee we’re closest to at the time) has been unofficially hosting planning meetings, and we’ve been buzzing with ideas about how to grow the coolest camera club in London.
You may have noticed that we’ve started featuring some of the amazing photographs that you talented lot have been hashtagging with #curiouscameraclub. We’re really impressed by the standards that you’re setting with your submissions, and can’t thank you all enough for getting involved so early on in our development.
There will be so many opportunities coming up to get involved, help build our community, and get your awesome photography promoted. But that’s for another blog…
Today’s blog is a London Diary with a difference.
Firstly, in an unprecedented (and probably never to be repeated) fit of enthusiasm, I’ve actually managed to publish it within 24 hours of actually shooting the photographs. You’re impressed, right? We all know its probably a one-off, but you’ll tolerate me fondly reminiscing in the future about “that one time I managed to efficiently adult without procrastinating” because we’re friends now. And friends let friends overhype their little triumphs. Just ask PJ.
On the subject of PJ, that’s the second difference today. I shot without my wing woman. I went to London to have lunch with my “Wicked Stepmother”, who is wicked only in the positive street-slang version of the word. I’d originally intended to go armed only with the Pentax P30 and the remaining shots left on the roll of Dubblefilm Sunstroke 35mm film, but there are no words adequate enough to describe just how terrible the light was. I don’t mind wasting film, but I DO mind wasting money, and there’s no way I would’ve taken photographs with it yesterday that I would’ve been happy to pay to get developed.
So: Fujifilm X100F, six hours, 26k steps, a lot of coffee, Wanna One through my earphones, and a bit of a preconceived plan that I hoped would get some good results despite the weather. Let’s do this London Diary thing…
This week, I’ve split my photographs into six mini-series of themed images, rather than grouping them by location.
For this first series, I played my standard game of looking for cool people and compositions on the fly, with little forethought to specifics. This was a pre-lunch wander around my familiar territory, but with a massive difference: due to the terrible weather, the streets were pretty much deserted, which I hadn’t really considered might be the case beforehand. This meant I had to up my observational skills a LOT, because opportunities definitely weren’t going to be as frequent as they are on weekends.
Walking past the windows of various cafes and restaurants, it was clear that that’s where everybody was hiding. I couldn’t blame them – it definitely looked far more cosy in there than it did outside. I was really pleased with this shot – I like the juxtaposition between the warm colours through the window, and the cold bleakness on the righthand side of the photo. I also really like the fact that nobody noticed my camera, so the scene feels far more natural than it would’ve done if anybody had made eye contact. That “hot” portion of the sign inside the cafe was an added bonus, because it emphasises the distinction that I wanted to make between the inside and outside.
Incoming pigeon! There were far more pigeons in Leicester Square than there were people. This guy was sitting quite happily absorbed in his smartphone, whilst an enormous flock to his left jostled for discarded McDonald’s. I took about three photographs of this scene in the hope of getting some kind of decent “bird action”. This one, with my shutter speed at 1/800, worked well.
One of my planned projects for today was to shoot a “Cool Women of London” series. And, spoiler alert, I did. It’s coming up next. Outside Charing Cross Station was this guy: embodying “effortlessly cool”, but sadly the wrong gender for my project. I was still genuinely concerned at this point that I wasn’t going to capture any decent photographs all day through lack of options, so I snapped him despite his Y chromosomes.
I love watching people take selfies. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of that “OMG, do I really look like that?” panic whenever that front camera opens. But it was cute to see how much effort this guy made to get his already sleek hair perfected for the shot.
I’m still not really sure exactly where that blue reflection in her glasses came from, but I like it almost as much as her contouring. It had been drizzling with rain all morning, so by this time, I now had crazy frizzy hair, hair-envy over selfie guy, and now cheekbone envy too.
I can’t even explain how much I wanted a solo shot of this pizza-toting, tartan-fabulous woman for my series, but I just didn’t have time to position myself in the sudden onslaught of pedestrians. I was happy enough with this shot, especially with the complimentary extra pop of red from the man behind her. This repeat in colour helps to draw the eye (like you weren’t going to be looking at the stand-out awesomeness anyway).
The nineties called. They wondered if your time machine was broken, and you needed help getting home.
Not the most exciting photograph I’ve ever taken, for sure. But that’s a beautiful window behind him, and I imagined that he was phoning the enquiry line for the letting agents because he was smitten with it too. Extra love for that gorgeous shade of blue paint.
A little part of Oxford Street that’s gone all Shoreditch. I love stickers… maybe not the random £20 price tag that someone’s whacked up there to join in, but generally I really like checking out sticker art.
The very first time that PJ and I ventured into Central London to do street photography (almost exactly a year ago), we chatted to one of the bicycle taxi guys about the Windmill Club, which at the time was lit up with all its glorious neon. This place survived the Blitz, but it couldn’t survive the scandal it faced last year, and is now empty and abandoned. It had a pretty rich history, and is worth a Google. Without the bright lights, this image works better in a more sombre black and white.
COOL WOMEN OF LONDON
I was looking for ten different women for this series who were all uniquely cool. I think I found them. I’ll not caption them individually – I don’t think words are needed. It’s useful to go out on street shoots with potential themes or projects in mind. It helps to kickstart your creativity, and keeps you focussed. Look at me, going all “guru” like Ash.
Not just a way of describing a pre-coffee me. I made an effort to look for things to capture that were still interesting without a human element. Granted, there’s only five photographs in this series, but it’s way out of my comfort zone, and everybody’s got to start somewhere, right?
Five dead pot plants on a windowsill. I found this totally relatable: Those pretty coloured pots, the good intentions, and then the inevitable, neglectful demise. It’s why I only have plastic plants in my house nowadays (true story), and why I’m amazed that I’ve managed to keep four children alive for so long. I’m joking, obviously. Motherhood is the sole aspect of my life that I feel I’ve got down. If only I could figure everything else out.
I’ve photographed the lower half of this building countless times as a background, but it really is beautiful when you look up.
I’m not even gonna lie – it took a substantial amount of tinkering in Lightroom to get this photograph looking remotely like it was shot in Golden Hour, despite the fact that it was. But hey, that’s what an Abode subscription is for.
Because everybody loves a good dog photo. Even me, despite being totally a cat person.
Moody London skyline, which looks even moodier in monochrome. This really shows the kind of cloud cover I was trying to shoot in.
Oh, how very Instagram. In fact, they’re so Instagram, I’ll probably post them tonight to promote this blog article. This might be the grubbiest phonebox I’ve ever seen, but it did make for an interesting frame for my shots. I liked the extra pop of red from the umbrella in the second one. It definitely pays to be patient sometimes to wait for the right elements to elevate the composition.
GOING TO BE ALRIGHT
It’s no secret that I’m terrified of heights. But when it’s pouring with rain, and you know there’s a decent cup of flat white to be bought on the tenth floor at the Tate Modern, what can you do? Suck it up, remind yourself that there’s some cinematic post-processing techniques you want to experiment with, and focus on that handy, reassuring self-help lighting.
MONOCHROME ART / KATE AT THE TATE
This last series has two titles, because “Kate at the Tate” is so cheesy. I knew I wanted some black and white shots in the Tate Modern today, and I also knew I wanted some shots of “Ash‘s Staircase”. You know, just so I can wind him up and challenge him for ownership.
I saw this lady sitting framed by the doorway as soon as I entered the adjacent gallery, and I really wanted to take this photograph, but she was totally on to me, so it was awkward. So I did whatever any good street photographer would do: I started to fake making a video with my camera, commentary and all, panning the room and hovering my shutter finger to take this once I was facing the right direction. I’d mentally composed the shot, and I was so relieved when I captured it on the first attempt. This is exactly why Ash is in charge of writing tips, by the way. Mine are a little… flamboyant.
Photographing people looking at art is one of my favourites. I didn’t intentionally follow this man around the gallery like a creepy stalker, by the way. It was purely accidental creepy stalking.
Like the effect of double exposures, but suck at composing double exposures? Try getting really close to a window at nighttime, angle your body so your pesky reflection doesn’t end up in your shot, and hope for the best. I know, I know, these tips are bloody awesome.
And finally, here are the shots of the newly renamed “Kate’s Staircase”. Which is a good place to end on, because I feel like if I push it any more, Ash will use our workshop on Sunday to announce that Chinatown is henceforth going to be known as Ashtown, and I don’t think I could handle that.
So that was my experimental Wednesday shoot. I really enjoyed trying new things, although I missed PJ immensely (love ya, babe). Don’t forget to let me know in the comments below which series you liked best out of the six. Today has been the last day of the Launch Features on @thecuriouscameraclub Instagram page. Tomorrow is the start of Daily Features, which once you know all the details, is even more exciting. And once I hit publish on this baby, I’ll start writing something that’ll let you guys and girls in on all those details. Sleep is for wimps. And sensible people.
Until next time,
Love from London xx