Brixton | Greenwich Riverside | Greenwich Market | Brick Lane
Street photography is one of those broad, rather vague catch-all categories for a genre of photography that is documentary, almost photo-journalistic in style.
In these series (which I intend to build upon as I get to make more visits around the city, country, world), I look to capture the feeling of the moment in time, whether that be during the height of coronavirus, or in more pleasant, open times.
I use both colour and black and white equally here. The Brixton and Greenwich Riverside series lent themselves more to colour, while the Greenwich market series lent itself to black and white, simply because of the setting and the weather. Brixton is a very colourful area, in many different ways, while Greenwich Market and Trafalgar Road can be quite monochromatic, and the riverside has many opportunites for good, rich colour photographs.
The majority of my street shots are shot on 35mm, unlike my other series, since the camera becomes a complicit friend in capturing candid imagery, and it should be as discreet as possible. I have shot a few images using my Rolleiflex, since it has the advantage of being a waist-level finder camera, but otherwise, the Kiev and Fujica tend to be too bulky and noticeable to capture good images of people without their noticing.
By its nature, street photography is less posed, more snapshot in style, although the casual nature of the photographs belies the amount of time spent in any given location waiting for the right, "decisive moment" as Henri Cartier-Bresson puts it. Deliberately rendered grainy to mimic the gritty, Moriyama-esque aesthetic, these photographs have been made to capture life in the raw, for better or worse.
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"Brixton" and "Underground" Series
This series was taken on the day that I finally went to Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton to register the birth of my daughter. The underground was eerily quiet, though there were still people travelling. I got to Brixton earlier than needed (I'm always far too early for any appointment) so I had time to wander around Electric Avenue, Coldharbour Lane and the Market before heading up to the town hall. People were very relaxed, and the market store owners were only too happy to chat when they saw me taking photos!
"Greenwich Riverside" series
This series of photographs has been assembled from a number of different outings, since the riverside around Greenwich is one of my regular walks. I love capturing the different activities that people get up to on the riverside beach at low tide, as well as the general ambience around Cutty Sark. It's truly a blessing to live right on the riverside, and I've never been happy when I've lived in any city that doesn't have a river or large expanse of water nearby.
"Trafalgar Road and Greenwich Market" series
This series was taken, for the most part, on a casual lunchtime walk from Trafalgar Road up to the Market. It wasn't a warm day but had been fairly sunny, however when I got to the market, the rain started pouring down and everyone dived into the market building to shelter. This provided ample opportunity to capture people in a setting that hadn't at that point really been experienced for a good 15 months - crowding in a (relatively enclosed) space. Everyone was super relaxed, and there were lots of people sitting in twos eating their lunch, as well as buskers, and plenty of dogs - both big and small!
Brick Lane and Shoreditch
A Sunday walk that started off getting to the tube station in the sunshine, getting to Canada Water and realising that the Overground was out of action between Shadwell and Shoreditch High Street, and a soggy walk up to Brick Lane before the sun came out. One of my first days out with the Olympus OM-1, and one of my first rolls of Agfa Precisa CT 200 (expired: 2009) and I'm really impressed with the results; despite the age of the film, it appears to have been stored well enough that rating at EI160 (i.e. 1/3 stop slower than box speed) seems to have been all that was needed to get the best out of the film.
Brick Lane is a veritable haunt of street photography. I bumped into another gent with a box of Portra 800 in one hand and a Canon SLR in the other, he was trying to guess what year my camera was from which is how we got chatting. It really is a wonderful community vibe out there, especially the Sunday I went, with markets, chess players, and graffiti galore.