On the Streets of London

Street photography. Candid shots of strangers. Capturing a fleeting moment, an interaction. This was our photography task last week and a style that was not only completely alien to me but also terrified me. I generally play it safe – mountains and flowers are not going to take offence or yell at me if I take their photo – and many of my photos tend to be completely people-free, often intentionally.  There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but it is easy to get stuck in a rut.  I had the option of taking candid portraits of people I already knew but decided, as did many of my fellow students, to be brave and seek out some interesting and completely unknown subjects.

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We were asked to set our camera on aperture priority and to consider depth of field when taking our photos.  I generally opted for a larger aperture, between f/4 and f/5.6, to ensure a shallow depth of field. 

I wasn’t as brave as some of my classmates, who stood in a deserted alleyway or their local high street to take their photos.  I decided to head to London, hopeful that I could get lost in the crowds and that, amongst the tourists, yet another person with a camera would not stand out.  It worked; not only were we asked several times if we wanted to buy tickets for a bus tour, but I also managed to take a good number of photos with only a very few people appearing to notice what I was doing.

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At first I felt rather stalker-ish and I was very glad that my sister had agreed to accompany me so I did not look quite so dodgy!  The shots at the beginning of the day were terrible; tiny little people, far across a street, and rather unimpressive photos of runners taking part in the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon.  But after a lens change and a decision to be bolder and embrace the task at hand, the photos improved considerably and I even started to quite enjoy myself.  There are still a few question marks floating around my head, but at the same time I know that there is a long history of street photography, that I am not doing anything illegal and that I have no intention to offend anyone; I am just looking for and trying to capture moments and interactions that interest me and that might be of interest to others too.

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There are many street performers in London – artists, musicians, living statues…  I found the relationship (or sometimes the lack of one) between them and their audience to be fascinating and hope to explore it a little further.  By the way I don’t think the man in the fourth photo is threatening to punch me; he’s just dancing!  As usual, I have deliberately kept the photos in this post to a small size because there are quite a few of them, but do feel free to click on any that interest you and they should open in a separate window and a larger size.

The chances are that none of the people in these images will ever see this blog post, but if you do happen to spot yourself, and if you dislike the image, please contact me and I will of course remove it.

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