Since embarking on this adventure with my camera, I have begun to see London through a brand-new set of eyes. The eyes I am referring to is the internal vision of the mind. This ability to see through thoughts and feeling is the access to creativity.
I have said previously that the best camera in the world exist right between my ears - my "Brain". My mind, thoughts and eyes are now working together in a way I never could have imagined since learning the craft of image creation.
The ability to see the "shot" before the camera reaches my eye is magical.
The famous photographer Jay Maisel is quoted to have said,"when I go out and shoot, I go out "empty", no agenda, I let the shot come to me". This is an amazing feeling, this experience of emptiness, no attachment to the outcome and yet committed to the process.
The following shots came to me today - it was a long walk and I ended up at my final stop, Tower Bridge, where I caught The Blue Hour of the day and the famous sculpture, "The Lady and the Dolphin".
I hope you enjoy this collection.x
Photography is such a demanding subject, there is so much to learn from a technical point of view. When it comes to post processing, it can get even more demanding learning the in and out of Lightroom and Photoshop.
This time last year I was intimidated by the notion of shooting RAW, I knew what it meant, however, I had no idea what you could do with a raw negative in digital format. My friend Umbreen Hafeez said to me on a recent shoot, "I had no idea what shooting raw meant, however I knew intuitively I could do something interesting with it". This simple conversation inspired me to dig a little deeper into the possibilities of what shooting raw could mean for my photography.
I have to say, shooting raw has now become a habit, simply because, it is the best way of preserving my images and creating real art with them. I have never shot and developed Raw Film Negatives, I can only imagine what that process must have felt like to photographers of old - seeing an image appear on photographic paper has to be one of the most magical experiences for a photographer.
In my day job as a magician, I can relate to this in as much as having in my mind an image of the desired effect, and bringing that effect to life with a deck of cards or a handful of coins, it is truly wonderful.
Since I've been shooting Raw it has been amazing to see how much detail in a digital image gets captured and then revealed in the post processing procedure. I have been absolutely blown away by how much information gets captured by my tiny sensor and a DX sensor at that when shooting Raw. This is the closet I can get to processing film on photograph Raw mode and with a little post processing added a little extra PUNCH to the final image.
I think it's safe to say I'll be shooting Raw from now on, that is not to say that JPEGs don't have their place, no, as I learned from Bryan Peterson, my JPEGs will be generated from a Raw Digital Negative – now that's magic.
I have lived in West London all of my life and since taking photography seriously in the last year, I am discovering my neighbourhood all over again. One of my intentions was to do some Street Photography down Portobello Road and the famous Market Place.
Last week, I clocked a two hour walk down Portobello Road and it was breathtaking and highly educational - I never realised how long Portobello Road actually is. I would say it is easily over a mile and a half, if not two. I walked from my home to Goldbourne Road and then the adventure began. Being it was a hot day, people were out and about, the street vendors were in good spirits which made my approaching them and conversating with them a great joy.
This charming couple have had their stall on the streets for the last four years. What made me stop and talk to them was this shot:
This moment was a perfect conversation opener - "Do you remember the Love Boat TV series back in the 1970s". They were very friendly and we had a good laugh, I introduced myself and told them I am a photographer and photojournalist and I and doing a project on community life in West London. They consented to my request to take their photograph which I am grateful for.
One of tings I found fascinating was how enterprising people are with their different businesses, selling all manner of items, my immediate thought was, this is a card boot sale on steroids. The images below should give you a sense of this vibrant area of London.
Rest assured, I will take another walk along the Portobllo Road in the next few weeks to see what else catches my eye.
Last Sunday, I took a walk down to Tower Bridge, specifically on the north east side of the bridge to shoot the wonderful sculpture by David Wynn. This piece of art was unveiled around 1973 when I was 9 years old.
This image has a serene quality to it. Dophins are very mystical and it has been well documented how these wonderful creatures have a special affinity with us humans. David Wynn has capture the spirit of our relationship with Dolphins beautifully in his work here.
One of the things I am learning and embracing is how to work a scene. It is easy to take an obvious shot of a famous landmark, however, it is how the photographer interprets the image in his mind before taking the shot that can make or break the composition.
Knowing what to leave out is an important aspect to creating a compelling composition. Leaving out some detail can invite curiosity from the viewer - this can hopefully draw you into the scene looking for something hidden element.
The creation in your mind can be stronger than the final image or a perfect match. If the image is beautiful to begin with, it becomes a mental chess game between the mind of the photographer, the image and the mind of the viewer. In the final analysis, whatever decision you the viewer comes to about the image will be your creation, my job as the photographer is to present you with an opportunity to slow down, speculate, ponder, feel and then express yourself authentically, as the image has done.
Studying Photography is slowly altering my point of view about life, people and myself.
What does it all mean in the long run?
Why do this?
Why perform magic for a living which is my full time career?
Is it possible that there is no "WHY"?
I am beginning to see that taking photographs or performing magic is just the access to a much larger conversation - "My Personal Evolution" as a human being and how my liberation can in fact have a positive impact on others.
Recently, I have enjoyed initiating conversations with total strangers which has led to some wonderful photographs being taken. What I learnt from these interactions is that everyone is hungry for acknowledgement.
The photographer in me feels compelled to say to some, "you have lovely eyes". I said this to a lady yesterday and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. I was in a Coffee shop yesterday and noticed how positive the two ladies were in their being. They appeared to enjoy serving customers, making chit-chat and just being generally happy. When I ordered my coffee, I mentioned to them that I like their "vibe and energy". One of the girls was from Italy, her name is Sara. I told her I am a professional photographer and doing a project on community life in Camden. I asked if she and her colleague would grant me the privilege of taking their photo for my project - they both were happy at the suggestions and granted me a great shot which I hope to post very soon as this was shot using my 35mm Film Camera.
My conversations have impacted my awareness to people from all walks of life. This photo was taken at Camden Market and features a lovely lady from Armenia who sold me the hat I am wearing.
This lady told me she has been at her stall for about 15 years, she seemed very happy with her achievement and I told her just as much. I want to thank her for her generosity in allowing me this photographic opportunity.
In the final analysis, people are open to "friendliness and warm giving generosity". This is how I approach everyone, it doesn't mean I will receive a warm interaction, it just means that my chances are much more in my favour - these are odds I am willing to take a stand for.
The benefit for me is that I no longer feel intimidated by strangers or engaging in Street Photograph, which I love.
I want to thank Eric Kim, a Professional Street Photographer from Los Angeles. I discovered Eric's website and have learnt a lot from his blog and followed some of teachings regarding shooting film and the overall philosophy of the is genre.
The street is a vibrant stage for story telling.
The characters that come out to play are so varied, on a given day, the story they tell will not inspire me to shoot, on the other hand, it might. I have noticed that when I am “empty” with no fixed agenda, the right shot will present itself to me. Being ready for that magic moment is all that is required on my part - I am still learning how I want to approach this.
There are some shots that I feel uncomfortable with, like the homeless and children. A part of me feels they have a right to their privacy, children must be safe at all times and yet they are a perfect subject because they are free and uninhibited in front of the camera.
My style so far is to interact, share myself and my story and ask for the privilege of taking their portrait. This to me is kind and respectful and by giving first, I am more likely to receive.
On the flip side is the notion of stealth mode shooting in the manner of Henri Cartier Bresson - there is an element of this that I like. This is where the benefit of a telephoto lenses come into play. I hate to say this but it smacks of the paparazzi and yet it isn’t because I am not chasing anyone down to get a photograph to sell, this has no class.
For me, I can see the beauty of how the telephoto lens can actually support the beauty of candid shots and reaching parts of a scene that would be broken by my physical intrusion.
In watching Jay Maisel on Kelby 1, he uses a zoom lens and still interacts with people as and when required - this I like. It allows the photographer the freedom to respond in the moment to the situation, people and his internal conversation about what the shot could mean after pressing the shutter.
The creation of the shot as the scene unfolds real time, sometimes a scene may need a cast of characters to make an entrance. All of this is part of the discipline of becoming an artful street photographer, "commitment without attachment" to the outcome.
Recently, I experienced an interesting emotion, indifference with my shooting.
It was an atypical day; the stage was Covent Garden and it was heaving with energy, people. The stage was set and yet, while I took some good shots, I felt no connection to the experience. I couldn't understand my lack of motivation or desire. Some of the shots were fine and yet lacked inspiration. After much thought, I am present to the gift of experiencing the moment before I take my camera in hand. The feeling or desire to shoot a particular subject that I have engaged with is paramount to my success as a photographer .
"I would rather go out empty and not return with a single shot than shoot just for the sake of it".
My day started off with a visit to my friend Clariscia Gill Couture.
Tea, Cupcakes, great conversation and discussions on the latest in mens fashion. Clariscia is one of the top fashion designers in the UK and her output of top class items is truly astounding. She recently made for me a wonderful bespoke Waistcoat and matching Tie.
CGC is set in the idyllic setting of Lancashire Court. You could easily be in Paris. This Courtyard has a lot of charm and class and is home to many top class wine bars and restaurants.
The one thing that left me really concerned about my visit to CGC was Clariscia's love affair with Canon. Relationships between men and women are bad enough without letting our beloved camera's come between us. Oh well, I think I will have to let this one slide, she is too much of a good friend to let camera politics come between us.
When you come out of Charing Cross Underground and take a sharp right and right again, a straight walk down and to your left you will be greeted by a most wonderful sight - The Victoria Embankment Gardens. This particular Garden has a strong connection with Royalty.
The more I engage in this activity, the more I am feeling and hearing the voice of the streets. The great photographer Jay Maisel said to go out totally "empty". Don't have a fixed plan of what to shoot, let the image come to you. Be open, receptive and ready.
In my training in the field of personal development, one of the things my tutor continually stressed is to come from "nothing" and give "everything". I am amazed how this teaching has crossed over into my studies in photography.
With no agenda in mind, I caught the images that spoke to me.
This empty bicycle stand tells a story. London has become so accessible for people wanting to get around quickly and efficiently. Who is riding this bike? What time will they be back? I wonder what sort of day this person has had?
As soon as I saw this, I was down on one knee and took the shot - it spoke to me immediately. The person who left this empty can here could have been on a mobile phone and in too much of a hurry to put their trash in the bin. The can looks almost regal the way it is perched on top of the trash can.
The Paddington Basin Regeneration project is looking good. In the next year or so it will be a spectacular site if this image is anything to go.
I took this shot almost lying on my back to get a good perspective.
Bryan Peterson is famous for putting himself into positions which could be classified as undignified in order to get the shot. I now understand what this feels like because I was shooting today with my prime lens 50mm.
This is a good lens for street work, it makes you earn the shot - there is no zooming, plenty of leg work to frame the composition while maintaining good photographic form.
These last two shots form part of a statue outside St.Mary's Hospital - intriguing.
Darlene Hilderbrandt's free E-book has many wonderful suggestions for improving your photography. In the first challenge, she encourages us to pick a subject and shoot it from 10 different perspectives. Each shot must look and feel different in such a way that the viewer wouldn't know it's the same subject.
My subject has been "Little Venice" for the last few days.
I have featured a number of shots of this particular location in my neighbourhood and today, I would like to share a few more the form of "The Little Venice" gallery.
These shots are quite interesting because I was armed with my D90 set to an Aperture of F8 - Shutter Speed varied to around 1/1000 sec, ISO 200, WB Cloudy and I decided to work with my Prime Lens 50mm. This forced me to work for the shot and composition.
Here are my shots:
Little Venice forms part of The Paddington Basin - a long stretch of The Grand Union Canal.
This Canal can take you on a boat ride, right up to The famous Camden Lock in North West London.
This particular stretch near my home leads to Paddington Station.
Along the canal route are some really fascinating sights.
This shot is of two gigantic statues.
They stand just below the A40 Flyover. The two statues are well over life size and cut quite an imposing presence.
Imagine being a professional Taxi Driver?
This is where your day could begin or at any train station location in the city of London. This area forms part of Paddington Station. Many travelers come out at this point to continues their journey. This is quite a sight, hundreds of taxis all waiting to take their turn, picking up the next passenger. They must have a lot of patience to do their job. The London Cabbie are quite friendly chaps and do there job well in my experience.
This was a lot fun, and I achieved a big breakthrough in my camera walk - talking to strangers. Today, I feel like I have stepped into a whole new world "Steet Photogrpahy". Check out my "Street Life Commentary" to learn more.