LONDON DIARIES 9
The problem with enthusiasm is that it’s not always the most practical mindset, which is why I’ve recently found myself juggling about five different projects simultaneously. Individually, they’re all awesomely fun… Take photographs? Sure. Start a street photography collective? Oh, hell yeah. Create a magazine publication, write a blog, sort out my “real life”… absolutely. But when the twist is that I have to do all these things AT THE SAME TIME: well, I’ve found myself taking a lot more power naps recently.
With that in mind, I’ve found myself several blogs behind schedule. If I had one scrap of common sense, I’d shrug them off and pretend those shoots never happened. Instead, I’m using an unusually quiet Saturday to catch up on the backlog. I didn’t make notes (I’m not that organised, unfortunately), so I’m writing from memory. I mean, it helps that I’ve got the photographs to trigger those memories 😉
PJ and I used to always shoot street on Thursdays in 2018, until other circumstances forced us to change our regular weekday. We took advantage of it being school holidays to allow us to shoot on a Thursday again this time. I’d originally mentioned Greenwich as a potential new location to check out, but PJ hadn’t felt like making the journey, so I’d filed it under “at some point”. But we had no concrete plans for today. Plus, it was the fourth anniversary of my dad’s passing, AND my ex was due in court that morning to face criminal charges against me, so I needed a massive distraction. Here’s the diary of the day:
We did our standard Paddington to Oxford Circus tube journey, and walked over to Chinatown. I just checked my IG account, and I’ve already shared 11 shots from this day onto my account, so technically this was a good day’s shoot. But I wasn’t really with it all day. I kept feeling awfully emotional about the significance of the date. There wasn’t much going on to photograph during the walk – or maybe there was, and I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to notice. I loved those Mulberry posters on the phone box, though. They’ve since been replaced by Wrangler ones, and they’re not as good.
We arrived in Chinatown at approximately the same time as every delivery van in existence, so it was difficult to get decent compositions, although in two of the examples above, the vans actually added to the shots. We decided to go to Leon for an early lunch (Korean chicken burger and goji juice, in case you’re interested. Why would you be?…), and then returned for a few more photo opportunities. The sun was out enough to cast some interesting shadows, which is normally our cue to get ourselves over to the South Bank.
I’ve been avoiding shooting in RAW recently. There are several reasons for this, not least because I don’t have time to spend hours in Lightroom. I think the Pro Neg HI and ACROS JPEGS out of the X100F are decent enough for my requirements, and VSCO X is sufficient to add that analogue look to the tones in my JPEGS that I personally like.
Off we went towards the South Bank. Our regular route takes us via Trafalgar Square, which is my least favourite place to shoot in London. The light is too harsh, the people are too “touristy”, and there’s no interesting backgrounds to contribute to compositions. But today, there WAS somebody in an enormous (and I mean ENORMOUS) panda costume, so for once PJ was spared my monologue about how they should just let the pigeons back so at least we’d get interesting shots there (she doesn’t disagree, partly to shut me up, and partly because she doesn’t like the guy who handles the hawk, employed to scare off the pigeons, because he wouldn’t let her photograph him one time).
It was worth going over to the South Bank for the shadows, and for an interesting crowd. It was at this point, around 2pm, that I casually slipped into the conversation that “seeing as we’d already managed to capture some decent images so far today, wouldn’t this be a good time to check out Greenwich? If it sucked for photography, we’d lost nothing, but if it was good, we could definitely go back for longer another day?” And because PJ is good like that, and because I was still being a miserable cow because of what day it was, we walked over to Bank and got on the DLR.
So, it turned out we both really liked Greenwich. As an (admittedly weird) teenager, I often used to walk the Greenwich Foot Tunnel underneath the Thames on weekend for no reason other than it was there. But I’d never explored Greenwich itself. We got off the DLR at the Cutty Sark, and were pleasantly surprised how the area had “seaside town” vibes, like a Cornish village or Brighton (but without the beach, obvs). Greenwich Market had a great array of oddities and street food, and I got an excellent flat white from Crosstown Doughnuts.
We wandered down to the river to get a closer look at the Cutty Sark and the skyline, noticing that there was a river taxi service back to the London Eye, but neither of us were willing to queue with the seemingly hundreds of half-term families. Something for another day, definitely.
Greenwich is definitely going on the list of places to return to – it’s a shame it’s so far out of zone 1 though. It’s also a shame that I spent so long procrastinating today, and wrote only one of blogs that I was supposed to. I blame Ricky Gervais for making a new show that I needed to binge watch, and the people I follow on Instagram for putting out such engaging content.
The next blog will be the final instalment of London Diaries, because I would rather spend my time blogging about other specific things, rather than feel obligated to keep up a series that repeatedly journals the same areas. Next time, I’ll be combining photographs from my two most recent shoots, and sharing images from another new location, Notting Hill.