Journey was the theme of recent meeting of the photography group I am a member of. It was quite a reflective and often quite personal meeting with people sharing photos and personal stories around journey.
For ages, I have been wanting to wander through Brixton on a weekend to capture it when its market is in full swing. I managed to find some time a couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon.
As I imagined, it was a bustling place with people mingling, buying things and going about their business. It could have been anywhere, but also feels very distinctly London.
I feel very fortunate to live in a very diverse and interesting city. Its stories unveil before me – some I managed to photograph, and some I miss. Many histories live side by side. Some shout, some whisper and many are somewhere in between. Some inspire us, some challenge us. However, there are there to be seen, if we choose to see them.
I enjoyed my afternoon in Brixton, however brief, and want to go back again to discover more of its stories.
Walking through Crystal Palace Park in London in between rain showers, I was enjoying the spring flowers before they fade away before summer starts. I enjoy walking through parks after a shower. The freshness of the plants and the air is often intoxicating.
I don’t consider myself a floral photographer, but I am often drawn to taking photos of them. I enjoy the symmetry, geometry and colour of plants and flowers. Some architects are influence by the symmetry and geometry in nature, like Gaudi.
It is easy to pigeon hole photographers into one subject or another. However, the reality is most photographers take photos of a number of subjects. I recently went to a David Bailey exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery recently. Bailey is known for his portraits of famous people but I found his personal work – taking photos of indigenous people – equally, if not more, interesting.
What drew me to the flowers in Crystal Palace Park while I walked through it was the added layer of the rain drops on the flowers. I don’t often take more macro photos, but I am finding myself taking more close up images of flowers in particular. The detail, symmetry and colour are interesting and can be lost without taking images of flowers close up.
Below is a sample of the images I took.
After months of grey and cold, spring begins by peeping through the slumber of winter and gently awakening the earth before summer. As spring begins to bloom, people often reflect the change in season by having a bit more spring in their steps.
Seasons have their own energy and character. Spring is about waking up, beginning to grow and an increase in energy. Life is beginning to sprout again.
I find springtime a treat. While I enjoy the winter light and the shadows it offers, spring brings longer days, a lighter step and a different type of light. Spring also brings flowers.
Plants and flowers manage to sprout from almost anywhere. While walking to and through Crystal Palace Park, I was spoiled for choice for photographing flowers. Below are the results.
A friend of mine died recently. She lived a long and happy life, but had been unwell in recent years.
From time to time, I enjoy photographing a cemetery. It may sound morbid, but there is such rich history, architectural gems and I find that the birth, life and death are all present in one place. This is particularly the case in some of the cemeteries in London.
While cemeteries are a focal point to remember those who have passed away, they are also an expression in tangible terms of humanity’s act of remembering the dead. Styles change, and it’s interesting to see this. However, the act is pretty much the same.
Cemeteries also are places that I find very peaceful – places where I find my creativity and contemplation often mix.
Below are some photos I took last year in the Beckenham cemetery in South London.
Being a large city, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle in London. It’s the nature of a large city. Sometimes it can be exciting, and other times it can be overwhelming.
This energy of London offers many opportunities, but also challenges. As a primarily architectural photography, trying to get photos of buildings without people can be difficult, if not impossible, at times. Knowing times when areas were a bit quieter certainly helped, but some areas are busy all the time.
An empty street, particularly in black and white, can be powerful and interesting. In the exhibition I was in last year, I exhibited a number of street scenes that were empty as I wanted to explore how, in some areas, regeneration meant redeveloping existing buildings (like old dock buildings) into apartments or keeping existing features of a building.
It was really interesting to hear people what people saw in my photos and their narratives of them when I spoke to them. It really made me appreciate the narratives of my own photos and my journey with my creativity. What was quite striking, however, was how many people commented on how my photos didn’t have people in them – they seemed to be missing something. When selecting my photos, I was steered away from including people as it was thought my photos, but I was starting to feel uncomfortable with this approach. I had tried so hard over the years to exclude people from my photos, but I think subconsciously, I was shifting away from this.
That’s not to say that I won’t include people in my photos. However, I am starting to enjoy including people in my narrative. It gives context to my images and to my narrative as well as something altogether human. Buildings are a product of humanity, but people like to see themselves reflected in the images and narrative too.
Below are some images I have taken recently in London. While they are still very much architectural, it also shows how both people and the built environment interact with each other. It can range from something very simple and mundane like waiting for a train to being entertained in Covent Garden or Victoria train station.
I recently bought a small, film camera. It was an impromptu purchase, and wasn’t entirely sure what I would use it for. I suspect I initially bought the camera to satisfy my geeky side.
As I mentioned in my last previous post, I have started exploring the relationship between architecture and people. My primary focus in my photography is architecture and the urban landscape, but I am increasingly interested in the relationship between people and the built environment.
Living in London, exploring this can be much easier, particularly in central London. There are so many people about – whether they are Londoners or visitors. That said, it isn’t always easy to take photos of people. I am not trying to be prying or intrude into people’s lives nor do I want people to pose. What I am after is placing people in an environment and for them to act naturally.
Trying to do this isn’t easy. In a way, it’s a bit of a double edge sword. Taking photos on something like a smart phone, people often don’t take any notice. They have come more commonplace. However, nicer cameras more often get noticed.
What this little camera I bought has done is to allow me to take photos without feeling like I am intruding on people’s space. Also, it is building my confidence in photographing people again. At the moment, it is a stepping stone to perhaps using better cameras in taking photos with people, as well as a tool in my kit.
Below are some of the photos I have taken recently. The weather in London has been rather nice, and the people have been outside enjoying it. There is a sense of pausing, and of enjoying the weather.
Spring in London has come at last, at least for now, and has stayed a week or so. It’s amazing how much sunny and warm weather has in uplifting people’s spirits and moods.
One of my favourite places to people watch and photograph is along the South Bank in London. It can be very busy on the weekend, but well worth it for photographs.
I try not to be intrusive when I take my photographs, but increasingly I am including people in my photographs. My primary focus is on the architecture around me, but the interaction of people and architecture can be interesting. People also give context to the architecture, and vice versa.
Today, a friend and I walked along the South Bank. I have included my photos below.
I have been rambling for a number of years now. It’s an opportunity to get out of the city and enjoy what the countryside has to offer. I often take my camera, and capture the hidden gems I find on the way.
I often enjoy the scenery, which can vary incredibly in such a small country of the UK. Also, there are little hidden architectural gems you can come across.
While I have rambled in many areas of the UK, I predominately walk in the South East. Yesterday, I was walking in Surrey and below is a selection of photos I took on the walk.
Sometimes being aware of the details can pay off. What you can find can be quirky and interesting.
This was the case when I finished a ramble in Chesham, Hertfordshire, with a group of friends. We stopped at a café and art shop before heading to the train station.
While waiting for our tea, a few of us were taking in some of the art that was around us, and noticed a little man stencilled on the wall above the door, and was walking to the open sign. It added a bit of character to the café.
As much as I can, I try to spot details like this. Living and working in London, it can be easier as there are more things like this. However, they are also very easy to miss with the hustle and bustle of the city.
Finding gems like this can make a rather good photograph. Details like this can show the artist’s sense of humour and creativeness, and can be fun to photograph.
Heather Martin is a London based photographer who specialises in architectural, event and B&W film photography.