Back on the Streets of London

Street photography is a funny thing. I still feel really self-conscious about it, especially on rainy days when there are fewer people about, and there is a part of me that is waiting for someone to start shouting, or chasing or, if I am really unlucky, grab my camera and fling it to the floor in a rage. None of those things have happened, of course, and there are many things I really enjoy about it, which is perhaps why I keep going back. It is a challenge, first and foremost, a step away from the carefully composed image of a building or tree that stays right where I want it whilst I meter and focus and frame. I have to think more quickly and change camera settings more instinctively so that I am ready to capture a moment that, in all probability, will not be repeated in quite the same way.  And for that reason, I think it is a type of photography that will teach me a lot.

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Photos 1, 2 and 3 were taken in Covent Garden.  It rained (a lot!) that weekend and my sister (the other one this time – they are both very patient with me!) and I had to seek shelter on more than one occasion.  Photo 1 is of the screen outside the Royal Opera House.  The clip of the dancers was very short but on rotation so I stayed there for a while, waiting for someone to approach at just the right moment.  There are a number of details in the image that were not immediately apparent when I took the shot and that are not obvious in this small version.  Feel free to click on the image for a closer look.  My favourite is the lady in red staring back at me.  Photo 4 was taken opposite the Royal Albert Hall, next to the Albert Memorial.  Personally the Memorial holds little appeal, but it is certainly eye catching and many tourists come to see it, photograph it and be photographed next to it.

I love watching the street entertainers and, in particular, the interaction between them and their audiences.  Many of the artists, musicians and other performers that I have seen in Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square have been highly professional, able to draw and hold a crowd and to keep their audience engaged, sometimes for quite a while.

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The man in the red tutu works incredibly hard, is very funny and keeps a good number of his audience for the whole performance.  In photo 1 he is preparing to perform his own version of a scene from Swan Lake, with assistance from a couple of men he picked out of the crowd and a young girl who was keen to volunteer.  I love the expressions on people’s faces as they watch him!  The musicians seem to fall into two camps; those that engage fully with the people who come to listen – chatting, smiling, cracking jokes – and those whose focus is solely on their music.  The man in photos 6 and 8 spent a lot of time chatting to a young lad, aged around seven, who had tentatively approached to throw money in to his guitar case.  In photo 6, they are discussing the qualities to look for in a girlfriend!

(As with my last street photography post, if by some chance you see yourself in any of these images and want me to remove the photo, then just let me know.  I have no wish to offend.)

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