A couple of weeks ago a took part in my very first photo walk. I’ve joined a few groups online over the last month or so, hoping that going on walks with other photographers (rather than drag my long-suffering wife along) would help stimulate my creative juices and improve my confidence in street photography, but it took a while before calendars were able to align and I was free to go along with a friend on a walk.
The walk was dubbed Hipsters in the Wild and would take place around Columbia Road and Brick Lane, what was dubbed “the heart of hipster territory”. We all met up in a pub which was itself pretty interesting; it was one of those ones with random things on the walls just asking to be photographed.
On the ceiling too, there were some interesting things to be seen, like this chandelier, and a picture of some creepy, creepy dolls which I didn’t photograph as I want to keep my soul.
Our first stop on our walk was the Columbia Road Flower Market. Shooting here was a bit of a challenge, it was not long after nigh noon and the sun was strong and bright in the sky, and this had brought out a lot of people, creating a hot, cramped environment not great for stopping and photographing. Despite this, I somehow managed to get a few shots that weren’t too bad.
As we came to the end of the market, the elbow room opened out a bit and I was able to take some more controlled shots.
As we waited at the end of the market for the group to coalesce I took the chance to sneak some surreptitious shots of people.
Although, I’m pretty sure I was spotted.
I also tried to shoot the other photographers that were there. This bunch were a lot better at ignoring or deliberately not noticing a camera pointed at them, and I was less afraid of pointing a camera at them, so the shots came out a bit better.
This next guy is the friend I was with (who is also the guy I shot St Paul’s with).
With us all regrouped, we made our way to Brick Lane. There, its own market was in full swing, but there was a little bit more elbow room to work with. And there were no flowers to be seen.
And if there were any doubts that we were in hipster country, they were soon allayed by this, erm, blunt cafe sign.
Now, this guy might be a hipster if he’s wearing this as a hat or fashion item. Otherwise he might just be a guy carrying his shopping home on his head. Or maybe both?
Anyway, back to the produce.
This being Brick Lane, there was also plenty of artistic graffiti to be seen, although it wasn’t always possible to photograph it without people in the way.
Further into the market I found a mirror, the must-have accessory for anyone hoping to take a selfie. It turns out I’m much too tall for that sort of thing.
However, it seems I’m better at taking mirror selfies of other people. Although I think those are just technically called ‘portraits’.
I really love this photo, I’m pleased with the framing and the content, but I was aiming to get the focus on the face in the mirror. A second later I got the focus right but the woman was no longer smiling, and this shot was clearly the better.
I still took any opportunity to photograph the other photographers in the group, and this one came out really nicely.
The things soon gave way to food, and this, for me, is familiar territory.
One of my ‘things’ I love to shoot are people taking photographs. Obviously there was a lot of us taking photographs this time, so it interested me to shoot ‘normal’ people taking photographs with their smartphones.
I love shooting bread; I really love interesting textures in photography and bread has it in droves. There wasn’t just bread there, of course, there was meat too. Non-descipt meat.
And this is the guy that was cooking it.
This was the end result.
This being a hot, sunny day, the fruit stall was doing really well too.
The other key business area in Brick Lane is music. You’re not going to be short of a musical distraction or two whilst wandering down the road. The first group were either seriously or ironically playing up to the hipster stereotype, proudly proclaiming you wouldn’t find them on the radio or TV because that’s like, too mainstream, man. Big deal, you can’t find me on the radio or TV either. Well, unless you happened to be watching TV at a couple of very very precise times in the last 25 years.
Further down the road there was another guy rocking out. He was just having fun, not making any claims of not being mainstream.
This guy was being watched by a brilliant-looking white-haired fellow, who every photographer noticed and took turns in trying to quietly get a shot of, especially as he was leaning against a nice brick wall. By the time I got my chance he had noticed and moved right next to the musician. Fortunately he was then in front of a big black door so I was able to get a decent shot of him.
There was also a guy photographing the singer with his phone, allowing me to get another ‘person photographing’ shot – this time two versions, one with the focus on the subject, the other on the photographer.
There was also this guy.
The other thing quite common in Brick Lane was bricks, often arranged to form walls. These walls were themselves occasionally arranged to form structures called buildings. Like this one, the Truman Brewery.
This next building caught my eye because it has the Ultimate Answer scrawled several times on the side.
And this one just looked interesting. It also had Brick Lane written on it which helped keep the theme.
And this building caught my eye for obvious reasons.
We reached the end of Brick Lane and again began loitering. There was a line of people sitting down eating food so I grabbed a quick shot.
A pigeon was also grabbing a quick snack.
As we all loitered before decanting to the pub, I took the opportunity to shoot some of my fellow photographers again. My friend wasn’t particularly impressed.
And then there was this guy, who seemed quite, er. Well…
At the pub, we showed each other a handful of the shots on the backs of our cameras, but as ever it’s hard to judge images on a three inch screen. I’ve not seen any of the others yet but it seemed we all got some pretty decent shots.
It was great fun going on a walk with a bunch of like-minded people. I definitely will be getting myself along to another photo walk at some point soon.
London in the Evening