candid

By George. It's England today

I have mixed feelings about St. George's Day.

On one hand, it's nice to have a day of the year that's 'yours' and the Irish have made a worldwide phenomenon of St. Patricks Day (and everyone seems to have a wonderful time...), however on the other I'm no fan of jingoism and - so sue me - I'm not particularly patriotic when it comes to chest beating and flags.

So, on this day of commemorating the most English of Saints (except he wasn't really, and he didn't slay a god-damn dragon either, people) I thought my way of summing up what it meant to be English could be really well served by hitting London and surveying our melting pot culture (yes, we have one Ms May...)

I'd wanted to go shooting down the tube for a while, and Baker Street station - with its beautiful ceiling - seemed like a great place to start, so following on from catching a few unhealthy, gasping smokers outside Paddington, I sat down and snapped away as the many Brits on the go in London embarked and disembarked their tubes. 

I could have sat there for ages, but a quick bite called so I dropped into the South Bank to catch the usual joggers - presumably still lost from the London Marathon - and lunchers down by the waterside.

Any station is good stalking ground for candids (as long as you don't get caught...) and so just as I turned to go back home I spent a bit of time on the platforms of Waterloo.

Seeing the people of London, with all their nationalities, colours and different ways of life did make me think again. Since St. George was a Roman - with Turkish and Syrian parents - who never visited England, is both a Christian saint and a Muslim and Jewish prophet too, perhaps he does symbolise modern England a bit more than we think, but in a totally different way that might be suspected - and that's Alanis Morissette grade ironic.

Now, can we all just have a day off?
 


Tech Corner:
After my manual fun and games (stop that, Ed) I was back in AF world today with both 25mm and 85mm Zeiss Batis seeing action and the Sony 55mm popping up on occasions too. 
 

The eyes have it.

I've never felt more observed than when I'm taking photos.

That's a bit of a strange thing to say, but once you make a commitment to get out there and do some street photography you become hyper-aware of eyes.

There are two sorts. The first in London is obvious - the 'surveillance state' of Britain is everywhere. You can throw in as many Big Brother cliches as you like, but until you're out there taking photos you don't really notice the number of cameras pointing at you - big or small - at every major crossroad or outside every big department store. I suppose in the current climate of Russian spy tomfoolery and chronic distrust of the population, in general, it's not a great surprise. 

Getting over this element of it (and I've yet to be thrown in the back of a van and my passport removed in central London), the second element of being observed is people themselves - and the area they're inhabiting.

This may seem a bit ironic seeing as lots of the time someone like me is sticking a lens in their face, but I was struck yesterday how contextual the attitude to this is depending what part of the capital you're in.

I wasn't really in London for a shoot day but had two meetings in distinct parts of town. Firstly a cafe stop just off Oxford Street and the second at an agency in Old Street. As there was time in between, I took the opportunity to get the camera out.

What struck me was the attitude. In the hyper-busy, relentlessly noisy Oxford Street, I was constantly eyed with suspicion as if I was up to no good - people actively turn away or shift if there's a camera near them - but in the slightly more relaxed Hoxton and Shoreditch borders nobody noticed me, and if they did they didn't seem bothered. It's almost like I disappeared a little.

I've been pondering this a little and I've yet to come up with a rationale, apart from perhaps a small theory that people around the more 'media' type areas of the East End are used to people waving cameras around at them as it's quite urban and street, but apart from that I'm at a loss. Answers on a digital postcard, please.

The other slight oddity I've noticed is the difference in attitude between a phone camera and a 'proper' camera - I've seen people looking very uneasy - like the old soul is being stolen -  when a reasonably sized lens is out and about but if someone is taking a picture with an iPhone? Not a ruffle.

Obviously, both objects take a picture, just one of a higher quality, but I can only put this down to the ubiquitous nature of phone ownership - people are desensitised. Bit odd though.

Anyway, enough Tinker Tailor Solider Photographer here's some of the images from yesterday - try to spot your author. 10 points for the first who sees me.

Eyes down.


Tech Corner:
Batis 85 and Zeiss Sony 55 - the latter mostly used for the Oxford Street shots.