Tag Archives: street

London England

I love London. I lived there in the late eighties in Brixton, a part of London which then was a little run down, impoverished and home to many fellow immigrants, but a place with a wonderful sense of community. I had been buying my breakfast of a bottle of lucozade and a sandwich, and the newspaper in the shop outside my bus stop only about a week when the shopkeeper told me – “Pay me at the end of the week, mate!”. I was quickly welcomed to the community.

I recall many the happy night as a young teenager I spent in the Prince of Wales pub near the tube station drinking pints of lager, with the local communists trying to recruit me to the party. The closest I got to joining the party was one Sunday afternoon when they roped me into carrying their bucket of paste for posting their posters around Brixton. I had never known what the “Post No Bills” sign meant in public places, but when the police pulled up next to us, shouting at us, I quickly learned. I also quickly learned that my  new friends‘ idea of communism did not stretch to waiting with the young naiive Irishman who was left there literally carrying the can while they scarpered. Thankfully, the police left me off with a warning and I left my communist friends off with a “Well, fuck them!

But I have happy memories of my time living in London. It was my first time living away from home, fending for myself. I worked in an Estate Agent’s office in Putney, employed for a reason I could never make out. OK, I made the tea, ran the envelopes through the franking machine and spent the day chatting with the beautiful Sonia, whose desk was opposite mine, but I cannot remember ever having anything in particular to do. My boss, Sidney, was an old-school English gentleman. He was very kind to me. My first week there he wrote me a blank cheque and told me to go buy myself a new suit on my lunch break. Now, I say a new suit which would imply I had an old one. I hadn’t. I had a trousers, a shirt and tie and a jacket. They matched in the sense they fitted me, but I guess to Sidney’s eye they didn’t match. Walking down Putney High Street I checked out what kind of suits people were wearing. In 1987, suit jackets had lapels that stuck up like arrows. I bought a blue suit that day and it had those lapels.

When I got home that evening, back to the bedsit I shared with two other Cork lads, I stood proudly in front of the mirror and took a shot of myself in all my grandeur and a few weeks later when I had the roll of film developed I sent the photo back home to my parents with a letter recounting my new life in far-away London.

Writing this now, the memories of living in London are flooding back. There were two major incidents when I was there. I passed through King’s Cross the night of the fire, the tube speeding through the black of the smoke. 31 people died. Then there was the huge storm that the ruined the reputation of meteorologist Michael Fish who told us all nothing would happen. I slept through it (impossible to believe), but what destruction I encountered once I stepped outside. Years later, when reading Damien Hirst’s book, his comment about how people pass by huge trees every day and think nothing of them, then one day a storm comes and fells a tree and people are awestruck. That morning, sitting on the upper deck of the bus passing Clapham Common and seeing so many trees that the storm had uprooted had me awestruck. (None of Damien Hirst’s art has ever had me awestruck though.)

Returning to London is always a little trip down memory lane for me. Looking back as a middle-aged man and thinking that I was there as a naiive and homesick 18 year old amazes me. I was just a boy then. I see London now as an adult and see how it has changed. It is a magnificent city, full of life and when you can find a Londoner in this metropolitian city, you find a polite and cheerful person who takes time to give you directions.

Here is a little series of iPhone photographs I took while there. A big shout-out to my friend Mark T. Simmons who I met while there. This set is for you, Mark.

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Except acceptance

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Patrol

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Baker Street

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Hot stuff

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A smile

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The man in the know

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Everything everywhere

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The London Underground

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A Londoner

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Why me?

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Friendly Bus Driver

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London Underground

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Into Soho

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Coo coo cool!

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Passengers

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This nagging knowingness

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On-the-spot Parking Inspector

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Can you believe it?

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I hate that man

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Committed to the dance

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Me and Miranda

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Cool Brittania

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Miss Sixty

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Self-delusion

It kind of followed that today I would post a photograph of myself, albeit a reflection in a mannequin. I took this on a photo walk around Cork on Sunday morning last. As you can see I have the weighty DSLR hanging in front of me and the fun iPhone taking the shot. I like the mannequin’s head. It reminds me of a bokeh head and you know how much I love those.

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Self-Delusion

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iPhone favourites

After doing a few blog posts on my personal DSLR favourites a couple of weeks back, a contact suggested I do one for my iPhone photography also. And I thought why not. I have been using the iPhone as a camera for a few years now, but really only got into it heavily in the past year or so. The trip to Asia last year was when I made the most of it.

Looking through my iPhone Flickr account brings back a lot of memories. It really is a great way to document things. I try to post a new photograph each day. The first photograph I chose is a street shot I took in Cork last year. Street photography is what I enjoy most about photography, but unfortunately there just aren’t enough streets in my hometown. It is a smallish-sized city. This photograph was taken on Singer’s Corner in the city centre. I was with my wife and kids at the time and would have had the iPhone in hand, with Instagram open and my finger on the button.  Imagine the scene:

I was standing behind him. Tried to get full length shot – did not work. People gathered, waiting for the green man to pop up, waiting to cross the street. There I am – one finger over the lens, thumb of other hand on the camera button – snap – ” SHIT!”  Delete. Try again. Lights, please don’t change! Finger over lens – finger off – snap. Yes! That’s ok.  Sensing people watching me, I put iPhone back in pocket. Green man appears and off we go across street. iPhone out – try again for another one. 

It was a pain to get, but I do like the results. Hope you like it too.

 

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Don’t look back [commit to the future now]

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Some people on the streets in Luxembourg

The iPhone allows you to get up close and personal on the street. I find it so much better than the bulky in-your-face DSLR. Here are a selection of shots taken on the streets in Luxembourg a few weeks back. (all processed on iPhone – Instagram filters)

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I see the future

 

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I used to kiss the future

 

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Two old friends putting the world to right

 

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Straight ahead

 

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Whistle as you go, fella.

 

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Things you forget

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A decent man

I guess I can appear strange to onlookers when they see me taking photographs of blank walls or raindrops forming on car roofs. It is something I am aware of as I am out shooting. It can be inhibiting at times, particularly in Cork, especially with the big and bulky DSLR. The iPhone is a much more discreet photographer’s tool.

Anyway, there I was on a side street off Grafton Street, Dublin, camera pointed at a blank wall waiting for tall, skinny, and hopefully, colourfully clothed people to pass by. Tall, skinny, and hopefully, colourfully clothed people! Yes! For the type of photographs I am looking for, (blur) tall, skinny, and hopefully, colourfully clothed people make the best images. More on that in later posts. So, I am there; waiting. Always looking around waiting for the image to take form, and I see raindrops on the rooftop of a parked BMW. I have to take a photograph of it. I have to take two photographs of it. As I setting the shot up, I sense I am being watched and ya, I am. There behind me peering through a shop window is a well-dressed gentleman with the most quizzical of looks on his face. Curious, bewildered, and thinking what the hell is this fool doing taking photographs of car roofs. But as we exchange glances, I see a wonderful smile appear on his face and he nods hello to me.

Now, I rarely ask people can I take their photograph. There are many reasons; mainly I would not feel confident that they would oblige and secondly, neither would I feel confident of a good result. Portraits are not really my thing.
But, for some unknown reason I found myself gesturing with the camera to this stranger behind the window, enquiring as to whether I could take his photo or not. He nodded and smiled and I raised the camera and shot. I nodded in return to thank him and went on my way.

As I said, I normally do not do portraits – family ones, yes, but otherwise it is not for me. Maybe in years to come this will change. I do like the result here. I imagine this man as softly spoken, kind and gentle. A loving father, a good husband, a faithful friend; a decent man.

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A decent man (Dublin, March 2013)

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