I do admit, I though this task was going to be easier than the last one but I couldn’t be more wrong.
Walking through the city with a camera with the
simple purpose to capture the essence of the street made me quite uncomfortable. I feel very vulnerable when I am out and about with the camera, because I stand out from the crowd and I don’t particularly like that.
Having finally enrolled at College on the part-time mode I had more time than I thought to complete these tasks, so I tried different approaches.
For my first attempt I wanted to hit the City. It was a very gloomy day and it was raining; I had hoped to find lots of men dressed in black suits holding umbrellas but it became very clear very early on that I was never going to find anything like that. I therefore decided to stick to the south bank and see what could happen.
I left after hours of just standing by, wet, cold, frustrated and with no decent pictures.
It was only back at home that I realised that there was one picture that I really liked. It was not what I had in mind, but it still captured for me what I had meant to say – and for me that was worth the trip.
For my second attempt I decided to go to that theme-park called Camden Town. I have been there several times and my idea was to photograph the Sex Pistols nostalgics that usually take to the streets during the summer. Once again, I was wrong: punk may not be dead, but it certainly goes into hibernation in winter. You can imagine my joy when I found, well, three! modern-day-spanish-imported-punks holding advertising boards. I zealously took out my camera, ready to shoot, but I had no time to adjust all the manual settings, when the three of them came rushing towards me showering me with insults and demanding a pound for every picture. I held my ground, politely, as well as I could. I was not scared but really in shock. I kind of expected these people to be used to hoards of tourists – after all the place cashes in on their image, but they were having none of it, and they were making a serious scene. A passer by actually stepped in to defend my right to snap, so while I was dealing with one, he was dealing with the other two. This is probably the most ‘real’ street photo I have taken after all, but it technically sucks. It is not focused properly, it’s overexposed and I don’t like the composition.
So, eventually I roamed the streets trying to find inspiration, but I only ended up taking really cheesy pictures, like this one:
For my third attempt I thought I would just go back to my area – Camberwell – and simply start snapping. I go for a walk every day and I have taken the habit of walking through East St. Market (just behind my block) with my camera in plain sight. I am still not very confident taking random pictures of people in the market. I feel this is a very close knit community, where everyone knows everyone. I would like people to get to know me in time and generally trust me, as their neighbour more than anything else; photography will come later. Most shop keepers and stall owners know my face by now and most importantly know what I do – I take photos. Hopefully at some point I will feel more confident in taking their picture and they will feel less threatened by me.
So I decided to stay on the main road. I feel that people around here are very suspicious of anyone with a camera. I can’t help but feeling that they do not consider this place to be of any interest to tourists, because it has nothing to offer them. It is not a particularly safe area, so outsiders do not venture here, unless they need to. It is not a pretty area – indeed, it is downright ugly – so why would anyone take pictures? In many ways, I agree with them and I feel that I am only taking pictures because it is fancy photographing poorer or more deprived areas. When people ask me what I am doing, I always hasten to add “I live here”, as if this grants me some kind of allowance to be there. I feel I am exploiting this place and I am trying to work my head round this issue. That’s why I want to know this place more intimately and I would like people to feel that I am part of all this too.
In any case these are the best ones of the bunch. I don’t like them, but I’ve done my best…