Mile End Art Pavilion, London, UK
Slowing down can mean very different things to different people. Seventeen photographers from the London Independent Photography Central Group
have put on an exhibition around the theme of slowing down, and the results show diverse and eclectic.
The subject matter ranges from spirituality, street and city life, the wilds of Cumbria, people, decay and the Thames. All of the artwork reflects the diversity of the group and how each of us has approached the theme.
Choosing images for an exhibition can be difficult, and I have struggled with choosing photos around slowing down. For me, it touches on spirituality, contemplation, the everyday, and trying to have spaces within the urban environment I live in to allow myself to slow down.
One quote from William Penn I came across close to the opening of the exhibition helped me greatly –
"True silence ... is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment."
This quote touches on what I had struggled with when choosing my photos to submit. It reminded me that the separation between my spirituality, my environment and the everyday is really non-existent. The images I did finally choose to submit (with the kind support and guidance of the other members of the group) were perhaps not ones I had expected to include. However, they do reflect this.
While on the surface street scenes may seem secular, my images allow the viewer to see the more contemplative side of cities, and humanity; to show them that cities have the ability of to slow down, and contemplate. While religious or spiritual buildings allow humanity to focus its spirituality, humanity’s spirituality isn’t restricted to these buildings.
We can find true silence anywhere – we just need to be open to it. Exhibition Details: Slowing Down runs until the 1st December at the Mile End Art Pavilion, London, UK
Now that we’re in November, the days are shortening and a chill is in the air. I love photographing in the autumn and winter as the light is softer and the shadows longer. The light looks different and gives photographs a different feel.
Like many, I also find it a difficult as I do miss not having more sunshine. While the winter light allows for a different feel for photos, I also find myself running around trying to make the most of the light, or the lack of it.
Light is something we take for granted during the summer, and I have really started appreciating the different seasons – both in terms of a change in the weather, but also in the light. Each season has its own character, and cities, towns and rural communities revolve around the seasons too.
The last couple of years, I haven’t taken as many photos during the winter as I would have liked, and am hoping that this year won’t repeat this. It’s a time of year where I am particularly pensive and allow my creativity to reflect.
Perhaps this may be the reason why I haven’t taking as many photos in the last couple of winters. What I find works best is to allow the creative juices to flow freely and not force them.
Crystal Palace Park, London, UK
As large parts of the UK were battered today by strong winds and rain, I enjoyed the calm and fairly sunny weather in London over the weekend. Living near Crystal Palace Park, I enjoy walking through the park at different times of the year.
At this time of the year, I enjoy the autumnal face the park has to offer. While the colours are more muted to what I have enjoyed in Canada, they are pretty nonetheless. The rustic colours still remind me of a fading autumn which melts into winter.
Living in the UK, I have become accustomed to more unpredictable weather. While I enjoyed autumn’s colours over the weekend, the rain and wind pounded parts of the country Sunday night and Monday. It reminds me to enjoy and savour the moments of calm before the storm, and even the storm itself.
Whatever the weather provides, I often enjoy photographing my surroundings. Rain and wind can make it more difficult to take photos, but the weather can have such an impact on the mood and feel of a photo.
My view is as long as it’s not raining, I’ll keep taking photos. You don’t always need to have a nice sunny day that’s cloud free. A grainy, textured black and white image can be just as strong as an image with a nice blue sky.
Whilst buying photographic supplies, I was asked by the man serving me – “So, where do you come from?” He continued: “I’ve been asking people as I have been serving today as I’m curious to find out where people come from.”
As a Canadian living in London, it’s not an uncommon question – indeed, London is a very cosmopolitan city with many people being drawn to the city from elsewhere, either from different parts of the UK or abroad. The man serving me was born in Whitechapel in East London – a proper Cockney, he said – then lived in Twickenham, south London. However, he even acknowledged his accent wasn’t particularly cockney or posh Twickenham.
Where we come from can be a very multi-layered question. On one level, it is asking where we physically come from. On another, it can be about our identity and culture, which is often bound to where we physically come from as well as a shared experience. Yet another level is our emotional and spiritual arena.
I often find the question hard to answer as I come from Canada and have a shared experience and culture with other Canadians. However, I also have a shared experience and culture in London. Where I come from can also be from where I left in the morning to where I end up or the destination of my journey – like arriving at the photography to buy some supplies.
As a photographer, this is also a very interesting question as I am taking photos of life passing me by and the moments I see. Being a photographer is, in a way, capturing where I am which then quickly turns into where I was coming from. So, the question of where I come from is also a question of where I have been.
While photography can be seen as capturing the moment and perhaps focused and reflecting on what has been by the images we capture, there is also an element of where I am going. The past does influence where I am going and what I am seeing, but without having a sense or an eye on at least the present, it is very easy to get stuck and not see the nuances and changes in life.
As an artist, my photography has changed and progressed over the years. I would worry if it didn’t. With reflection and contemplation on what I have taken and listening to where I am going, my art changes and possibly matures. So the question of where I come from transforms into where I am going to – and I take photos along the way. Both questions are inseparable, really.
Kent, England, UK
Rambling through Kent the last couple of weekends, I really appreciated the rustic autumnal scenery. The colours in south-eastern England tend to be much more muted than what I grew up with in Canada.
However, being in the Garden of England, I really enjoyed the bountiful fruits and vegetables we came across – the blackberries, apples, fields of corn as well as sharing the fields with cattle (although, a bull or two made us a bit nervous!).
Living in a city, much of what I buy is at the supermarket. However, I enjoyed the few apples and berries we got along the walks – and the taste of them was infinitely better than the store bought.
The walks I did had many historical buildings along the way – both stately homes and castles as well as historic churches. Being October, the churches were celebrating harvest festival and they were filled with some of the local produce. While the UK doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving as Canada and US do, harvest festival is the closest thing to it.
It is also apt that Canadian Thanksgiving is the 14th October, so I felt that I was celebrating in a way while walking in Kent with my friends and enjoying an apple or two and the blackberries on offer. The beautiful scenery added to the atmosphere. It reminded me to not take for granted what we have and what nature has to offer.
Hoxton, London, UK
Walking city streets, graffiti is part of the urban landscape. It’s sometimes hard to miss. As a predominantly urban photographer, my focus is often focused on the buildings and urban environment around me. However, I have become increasingly interested in photographing graffiti.
Why? What draws me to graffiti? Some find it the scourge of modern urban life. I don’t find this is the case. I have been historic palaces – like Dover Castle or even Eltham Palace – where there has been graffiti. Although this graffiti are often carvings on the walls rather than using a spray can.
Graffiti can be quite elaborate and creative, but it can also be rather dull and ugly. The built environment often lends itself rather well as a canvas for graffiti. The architecture of cities tells one story, but I don’t find it’s the full story of human experience. Graffiti challenges societal norms. It’s often seen as a nuisance by local government, and is often painted over – only to be replaced by new graffiti.
While graffiti can be an alternative conversation, I find there is a human need to say ‘I was here’. Whether this reflects the transient nature of life, and particularly of larger cities or a human desire for some semblance of permanence is open for debate. I would imagine it’s a bit of both.
What graffiti can reflect is a human voice and experience that is otherwise often shut out of mainstream society. It can be subversive. However, it can also become ‘trendy’ as it’s often seen as alternative and challenging the norm.
Whatever graffiti represents, it’s not likely to go away anytime soon, and I’m sure I’ll be photographing it for a while.
Old Street Station, London, UK
My photography has been changing for much of this year. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to be all that different from the photos I have been taking. Other times, it can be more reflective. My photography has allowed me to see things differently, and this is still the case.
I haven’t always found it easy to articulate where my photography is going, and in a way, I am enjoying the journey. It has made me more reflective, and perhaps see things around me even more deeply.
Being mindful has played an important role in this process. Although I haven’t blogged in a while, I have been taking photos, and lots of them. Trying to make sense of them isn’t always easy. Perhaps they are still too fresh. What I am enjoying, though, is seeing the results, and the places my photography is taking me. Perhaps I will never entirely make sense of my photography, apart from reflecting life unto itself.
Becoming more mindful has shown things to me that I perhaps would have missed previously. This doesn’t mean I see everything, or would want to photography everything. What it means is I am pausing more and letting life unravel in front me. Increasingly, I am not seeking perfection or the perfect image. What I am wanting to capture is a world that is around me – in it’s busy-ness as well as it’s quiet(er) moments.
The image above is of Old Street Station. The straight lines and the curves play against each other. I could have left the pedestrians out of the image, but the image would have been a bit soulless without them. I may have missed the image if I hadn’t turned around, paused, had a look and put the camera to my eye.
Hay's Galleria, London, UK
A week ago, I published my first book
with photos I took on my iPhone since August 2012. I hadn’t expected that my first book would be images from my iPhone as I have a few ideas of other books I thought I would publish. So, why images from my iPhone?
I hadn’t expected to take that many images on my iPhone. However, I over the last number of months, I was proved wrong. The images were capturing passing moments before they slipped through my fingers – that’s why the book is called In Passing
The number of self publishing companies has grown exponentially over the last few years, which makes publishing your own book more accessible. However, it wasn’t easy to choose the photos to include in book. Being able to look at your own work objectively is nearly impossible – which is probably why I have struggled to publish a book previously. I did find that this book seemed to organise itself. Once I had the title, then the photos fell into place.
Would I publish another book? Definitely! When will this happen? I have not idea! I am sure that I will still struggle to figure out the theme of the book and what images to include. However, I won’t let this deter me. Publishing my first book was well worth it!
Chinatown, London, UK
Catching the moment is, in many ways, fundamental for photographers. It would be waiting for the right lighting conditions, the right alignment, the right pose ….
A photographer could wait for the moment to happen, or be quick enough to capture it before it slips away, never to be seen again. It’s what photographer do, really. While there is equipment that can counter this – like setting up lighting or staging an event – time is still there. However much the photographer tries to control the situation, every moment is different – even if it’s slightly.
Recently, I have inherited a number of old film cameras. The latest was a film SLR – whose light meter I managed to get working again. I was getting used to using it by talking some street photography in Central London.
I managed to just capture moments before they quickly disappeared and the photo changed. Street photography isn’t always the easiest thing to time, but if done well – or if you’re lucky enough to capture the moment – it results are incredible.
I get a buzz when I manage to capture a moment before it’s gone – and have a certain frustration if I don’t manage to get it. But that’s the fun. It’s a bit like cat and mouse. You capture some, and you also lose some.
The Shard is one of the more recent additions to the London skyline. Towering over London Bridge train station, it stretches into the sky and points to the stars above.
A friend and I went up to the viewing gallery at top of the Shard, and it was well worth going up. I’m not one for heights, and was a little apprehensive. However, the views over London were amazing, to say the least.
The weather was not bad with sunshine and some cloud – we were fortunate as it hailed not long after we came down. To see the city from such a height was such an experience, and my fear of heights managed not to bother me particularly. I think I was far too busy looking at the view, and taking photos of it. It was amazing how far you could see.
To see the London and it’s iconic architecture was amazing.