John Hughes and I've been photographing since I was 12 years old (now in my 40's) and I have a real love for it. In the 1980's I started learning photography and I quickly found a real love for this. But it wasn't until my photography teacher, A Mr Littlewood introduced me to book called Subway by the American photographer Bruce Davidson.
The weather this year has been awful, it has been a total washout and it was time to take full advantage of this, I’d been keeping eye on the weather channel and there was the promise of heavy rain Tuesday and Wednesday, I chose Wednesday and in the morning I headed up to Cambridge with the hope the weather channel was right and there was going to be heavy rain and that’s just what I got. Most of the time when it rains people will still come out, however Cambridge was almost empty. Now the city being empty can sometimes be a good thing, as when Cambridge itself is busy I have a hard time shooting.
Instead of power walking around the city, I’d decided before I arrived to take it easy and for the first time I stuck to that, at the start of the day it was dry and dull so I was mostly shooting through the windows of shops restaurants etc. After lunch my prays were answered when the heavens opened and the umbrellas came out and so did the people, maybe like me everyone was waiting for the rain, who knows.
I’m back to shooting with one camera and one lens, which as you know allows me to focus on taking photos instead of the gear. I was getting up close and personal to the people allowing me to get some nice bokeh and focusing the eye right where I wanted it. As you’ll see in the photos I was getting very close and in some cases I was right under the peoples umbrellas and you know, nobody noticed.
In the afternoon I met up with Matt (the13thsecond) and we spent the next few hours playing in the rain, I say playing as we really did feel like children splashing about in the rain, laughing at each other as we got drenched, it’s been a while since I’d had this much fun shooting street photography and I owe it all to Matt and the rain.
I was drenched by the end of day, but I still had a smile on my face, I had so much fun shooting in the rain and I can’t wait till next time.
Madness I hear you shout, 45 miles of walking but, I didn’t plan on walking so far (I never do), but when I get focused I’m like the energizer bunny, I just keep going and going. My weekend started at 8am, the weather was perfect, sunny and hot and all I needed was to be on my A-game and boy was I.
Let talk about the gear I took to London this weekend, as you know I only take one camera and lens with me, however I still had the camera that Olympus UK lent me and with the sunny weather I knew I wanted to shoot with a wider lens, with that I decided to take the E-M1 mark 2 and the 17mm F1.8 which give me a 35mm focal length. I also had my Fujifilm X-T2 along with my one and only lens the 56mm F1.2. I do wish the 56mm didn’t weigh as much as it does, I end up feeling it by the end of the day.
I started my day in London’s Chinatown (no surprises there) and within minutes of arriving I got the following 2 photos:
What a weekend I had, not only was I getting some great street photos but I also was out shooting with 2 friends, Nick and Christian and it had been a while since we’d shot together. Both myself and Christian had spent a few days last year shooting in London’s royal parks, so with the weather being so nice we decided to head into the parks, this turned out to be a great decision.
Walking through London’s Hyde park, I was shooting mostly with the Olympus and I’d been playing around with the monochrome settings the night before and this started to pay off, the monochrome was looking great on the back of the camera. Walking around the park I was glad to be shooting with a wide angle lens, this was perfect for the photos I was trying to capture and one of my favourites from the park was this one:
I love how the gentleman is sitting in the chair, this shot wouldn't have been possible to get if I’d been using my 56mm. This has got me thinking about maybe getting another 23mm F2 or maybe a Ricoh GR.
The 3 of us had a rest by the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, this was packed with people I was taking photos of the families enjoying the water, this is a beautiful spot right in the middle of the park and if you have young children I’d recommend it for afternoon in the sun. The 3 of us got soaked, the children didn’t seem to care about anyone sitting near the water, all in good fun of course and we didn’t mind as it was bloody hot. I did get approached by a woman asking why I was taking photos of the children and did I know it was against the law, which it isn’t, I showed her what I was taking, but she wasn’t happy and she started filming me.
I was out shooting til 02:30 Sunday morning and then I was back on the streets after just 3 hours of sleep, London first thing on a Sunday morning is something else. There is hardly anyone around and the city is so still and peaceful, perfect for street photography.
On the Sunday I meet up with a young gentleman from the US Deondre, he was on holiday with his family and had taken the day to do some photography. We spent a good few hours shooting together, this was fun and it also helped light a spark in me and I really started to enjoy my time shooting.
We also bumped into Mark who was running a one to one workshop, Mark had just come out of Somerset house and he mentioned about this spot inside, he told me I should check it out and within minutes of finding it I captured the following photo:
Let me show you the message I got from Mark, I don’t think he was happy 😂😂😂 I love sharing my work with Mark, he has a great sense of humour and terrible language 😳😂😂
The thing is I still prefer Mark’s photo from this area, which is here:
All in all I had a very long, but productive weekend in London, I ended up with one of my favourite photos I’ve captured in a while. I don’t mind walking miles if it pays off and this weekend the 45 miles payed in spades.
I’ve decided this year to write a few blogs about the places I revisit in both London and Cambridge and in this first blog I’ll be heading to Cambridge.
Aromi is an Italian restaurant in the heart of Cambridge and it's one of the cities most popular eateries, this is on a street that for a few months of the year has amazing light. Throughout the summer the restaurant hangs chains that cover the entrance and I’m like a moth to a light.
Because of the popularity of this place the footfall is incredible, this has to be one of the busiest places in Cambridge apart from Kings Parade. Not only do you have people coming in and out of the restaurant, but you have passerby's looking through the windows, watching the chefs at work.
Every year I wait for the sun and chains and I’ll end up spending hours standing near the door waiting for the perfect moment and I’ve captured so many good photos from this one spot. Over the last few months, I’ve also noticed that when the sun is setting it throws light down the street and this has an effect on the window that allows me to get perfect reflections of people walking near by, as of yet I haven’t got a photo that I’m 100% happy with, I will share a few below just so you can see what I mean.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop going back to this spot and as long as the restaurant keeps hanging the chains over the entrance I’ll keep shooting.
Finding a good spot with great light and staying there to work the scene, this is how I now approach street photography I have in the past waited in a spot for hours working it. Most of the time I wait at a spot until the light has gone and as is the case with Cambridge market I’ll always revisit to work the scene over and over.
Working the same scene over and over can sometimes be because the city where you live is small and there’s only a few places with good footfall and there’s the other reason why I will work the same scene over and over and that’s because I haven’t captured a photo I’m happy with.
Don’t dismiss a scene because your bored going back to the same area, something I’ve learnt over the years I’ve been shooting on the streets is that everything will refresh and something new and different will happen. I’ve been finding this more and more as I continue to shoot in my hometown and in Cambridge and I know this is down to me growing as a street photographer.
The benefits more than out weigh the negatives about finding spots and working them until you achieve your vision, you start to understand how the light acts and you being to learn the best times of the day and year to work that scene.
The following photos are from 2 areas I like to visit in Cambridge
This blog is going to be about my first impressions of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark 2 and the selection of lens I got sent from Olympus UK. I spent the first day with camera taking photos in my hometown, just trying to find my way around the Olympus system, I’ve never used a camera that can be customised as much as this one and while I like the way you can customise all the buttons and dials I do feel that its a bit too much especially when I started navigating around the menus, but I’ll get into that later.
There is so much to love about the camera itself, with that lets get into this
Ergonomically the camera is almost perfect, the button layout has been well thought out and apart from the power button everything is where it should be and it’s so easy to control the camera one handed. The power button is out of the way and it all comes down to personal preference, I like having it under the shutter button so that I can use the camera with one hand, but on the E-M1 this just wouldn't work and I must point out that here that it’s not a knock against the camera its as I said it’s personal preference. The camera is a bit slow to power on, its a good 2/3 seconds before you can take a photo and again for me this just isn’t quick enough, it’s a lot faster to wake the camera up from sleep and take a photo. The first day I was using the camera I kept switching it off as I had read the battery life wasn’t that good, now I know better I’m leaving the camera on while I’m shooting.
Let’s talk about the battery life, Olympus themselves say that you’ll get about just over 400 shots before the battery dies and right here I must call bullshit, Olympus have really under estimated the life of the battery, I shot with the camera all day in London shooting with both single shot and burst mode, plus sitting in a bar with clients going through the photos on the back of the camera and not only did the battery last all day but I still had 69% left when I got back to the hotel. If that’s not good enough for you, how about the fact you can charge the battery from empty to full in 2 hours, I’m not joking here, 2 hours for a full charge. The battery life and charging are my favourite things next to the burst mode about this powerful camera.
Going back to the camera body I have to talk about two things that I really didn’t like, the first is the shutter button, like Fujifilm’s H1 the shutter button feels soft and spongy and I just can’t on with it, I like to feel the half press. However, the shutter button is bloody quick if you want to take a second photo fast and that I like a lot, it’s perfect for street photography, I’m sure this is something I’d get use to over time and again this comes down to personal preference as does my next problem, the flip out screen. The screen is big and bright and I have no complaints apart from I can’t get on with flip screens that pullout to the side of the camera, I prefer the screen on the E-M1 Mark 1 or my Fujifilm X-T2. The screen works really well for video as you can see what you're recording, so I understand why the screen is the way it is. These are small complaints about a camera that fits so comfortably in my hand and is so easy to use.
As with any new camera system you try I think we can all agree the first thing we have to learn is the cameras menu and it doesn’t matter which camera it is, if your not use to the system it can be nightmare. The Olympus is a bloody nightmare when you dive in for the first time, but it doesn’t take long to find where everything is and after a few days it’s became second nature. I do think the menu could be a bit easier to navigate around and what makes the menu so vast is the way you can customise the camera and as I said at the start I do feel it’s overkill. For me there are things on the camera that can be customised that really don’t need to be, being able to customise all the buttons on the cameras body is a great idea and it really helps when using the camera. The perfect analogy would be Mac vs Pc, if you want a computer that works right out of the box you buy a Mac and if your one of those people that likes to play and customise you buy a Pc, Olympus is the Pc and Fujifilm is the Mac, don’t get me wrong I wish I could customise more of the buttons on my X-T2, so there must be a middle ground between the E-M1 and the X-T2.
For those of you that have been following my blogs will know how much I hate zooms, I’ve always been a prime shooter, I just find it’s easier to focus with a fixed focal length. Olympus gave me 4 lens with the camera, 3 primes (75mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8 and 17mm F1.8) and 1 zoom the 12 - 40mm F2.8 being honest here I had no interest in using this lens, but as Olympus had giving it to me I thought I’d give it a try and boy was I surprised. Before I talk about this lens I’d like to point out that for me the worst Fujifilm lens is 16-55mm F2.8, I’ve never been able to get on with it and I thought the same would be said of the Olympus equivalent, nothing could be further from the truth, I enjoyed using the lens more than I thought I would and I’ll be honest and say I prefer it to the Olympus primes I was given. I thought that I’d have the 75mm F1.8 lens on the camera more, as it turns out I’ve been using the zoom more than I thought I would, the other lens I’ve been using is the 17mm F1.8. Both lenses have been perfect for my street photography and the few jobs I’ve had.
I’m going to move onto my biggest complaints about the E-M1 Mark 2, the first is colour profile. I’m spoilt here because of Fujifilm’s Classic chrome which I love, Fujifilm’s film simulations are the best, nothing comes close and I’m afraid to say this includes the E-M1. Again I really don’t see this being a fault with the camera, I remember hating the colour profiles on my Nikon and how much time I spent editing the photos in Lightroom to get them to look the way I wanted and with the E-M 1 I feel like I’m going backwards, the colour photos I’ve included with this blog have been edited and where’s as with the Fujifilm editing takes seconds I found myself spending almost 3 times as long editing the RAW files from the Olympus. But, its not all bad news, the monochrome from the E-M1 is beautiful and mix this with the 17mm lens, I'm getting some amazing looking shots.
My second complaint and believe you me this is a big one, I can’t seem to change the size of the single focus point and the size it’s fixed too is just too small. For me this is a massive problem and one I’ve been struggling with since I’ve had the camera. I will check with Olympus just to make sure I’m not being stupid, everything I’ve read online seems to point that the size can’t be changed and if this right Olympus need to address this. With everything that is customisable on the camera, the one thing I would want to customise and I can’t.
I’ll report back once I’ve had the camera for a month and I’ll give my final thoughts.
Thank you for reading
Update: I've found out from David at Olympus UK that the power button can moved and now I can use the camera with one hand. I'll write more about that in my final thoughts.
A few weeks back Billingham bags sent me a new bag to try out, this wasn’t a camera bag it was a briefcase that they call Thomas.
Should I go into the build quality of the bag, I don’t think I have to, as with all of the products I get from Billingham the quality is outstanding. The bag Billingham sent me was black with black leather around the edges, looking at the photos online I wasn’t sure about the all black look, but in person this bag looks amazing in all black, you can also order Thomas in Sage/chocolate, Black/Tan and the classic Khaki/chocolate.
Now, Thomas is something special and I felt right out of place with it, I’m a street photographer that wears jeans and a T-shirt and Thomas doesn’t really fit that look. Every time I used the bag I felt underdressed and out of place. Thomas is for people doing business, now don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed using him, it was perfect when I was meeting with clients or even just going to Starbucks to write a blog, but boy I really did feel underdressed.
The way I use the space in Thomas is perfect and in some ways better than my Hadley One, it fits everything I need with space left over. The bag doesn’t feel as heavy as my other Billingham bags when I have my MacBook Pro in there, the weight is dispersed evenly across the bag. If you're looking at buying Thomas and you have a 13” MacBook Pro I would highly recommend Billingham’s 13” Laptop slip as there is a lot of space in the bag and your MacBook will move about a bit, even without this slip I felt my MacBook was absolutely safe. The bag has many pockets which are perfect for all my chargers, hard drives etc.
If I had one complaint about Thomas (and it’s not easy to find fault with it), but for me I just wished the handles could be removed, the shoulder strap like the one on the Hadley One can be removed and I should also point out that Thomas comes with SP40 shoulder pad, removable umbrella straps and a luggage tag. Thomas is big enough to fit a 15” MacBook Pro along with my iPad Pro and there’s still room in the centre of the bag for my 13” MacBook Pro, Thomas is massive and perfect for the modern business person.
The Thomas briefcase is a bag that makes a statement and it fits in beautifully with all of Billingham’s other products. Thomas is only available through Leica Manchester, Selfridges Tech Department London and Billingham themselves.
Thank you again to Billingham for sending Thomas for review.
Here I must apologise, I had the bag for just over 4 weeks and I forgot to take photos. You can get all the info here at Billingham.
I’ve been shooting digital street photography non-stop for over 6 years now, 2 weeks ago I hit a brick wall. I can’t seem to focus on my work, I just don’t see the point to it anymore.
This isn’t a great place to be, so I’ve decided to step away from not only street photography, but photography in general. I need a break and I need to figure out where I’m going with my work. Ever since I decided to walk away I’ve been receiving lots of messages of support from friends and followers, people saying they understand why I’m walking away from my passion. The support has been really emotional for me, everyone has been saying that they will be there for me when I decide to return, let me be honest here and say I’m not sure I’ll be returning.
The passion I had for street photography has gone out, I keep finding myself asking the same question over and over “what’s the point?” And I just don’t seem to be able to answer this, I’m in a bad place mentally and I just don’t see a way out. The support from friends and family is helping, but I fear its going to be a long journey back. I’ve deleted so much of my work in the past week, going through photos and just not being moved by them, many of you have told me to stop doing this and just leave it alone, so I’ve taken this advice.
I also deleted my website and yes even this blog, but I had a few days to think about this and I realised that I need the blog in my life, writing really helps me and it gives me something in my life, which at this point I need. I don’t care if anyone is reading it, I need it, so I’ll continue with it as best as I can.
I can’t bring myself to destroy something that I’ve worked hard on for nearly 3 years and I know that many of you love to read my stories, which does surprise me, I also know that many of you get inspired by my photos and again this also surprises me. But I’m afraid that even the fact that I inspire many, it’s just not enough for me at this time.
I hope you bear with me as I try to get through this
This past Friday I was in London only this time I was with a few friends, hoping and praying we would have good weather, it stayed dry but it was a bit cold, anyway I started the first part of the day with no music and guess what, yeah I was struggling to find anything interesting to shoot. Not only that but central London was empty or at least that’s how it felt.
By the time the afternoon rolled around I decided to add music into my day and boy what a difference it made, this here is the first photo I took within minutes of the Manowar song, kings of metal started to play:
This is just really interesting to me, I have no idea why music helps me focus but I’m glad it does. By the early evening I was on Regent Street where some protesters had blocked off the road, fashion and music perfect for street photography and I just wanted to share some of the photos I captured here.
I had been planning on heading to London on the 29th March as this was meant to be the day the UK left the EU. I was hoping for lots of people protesting outside Parliament and I wasn’t disappointed, Parliament square was packed. My day started at 07:30 so I knew I was in for a long day, I planned to not walk too much and to just take it easy, this didn’t go to plan as I ended up walking just over 20 miles and I didn’t get back home till 23:30, I was dead, but let me tell you it was well worth it.
The day started off slow I walked along the Southbank enjoying the weather, before heading into the city. After spending a few hours walking about Soho, Chinatown, etc I decided to have a walk down Whitehall heading towards Parliament, I spent the next 4 hours shooting in the area, meeting with other street photographers. I wasn’t going to come away with the normal protest photos, I was looking for something different like the photo below:
Using the flags to frame people was allowing me to separate my subjects from the crowd.
I had an amazing day of street photography, meeting up Eldar (@eldalieee) in the evening, really wish I would’ve had more time to shoot with him. It had been a while since my last time shooting in Soho at night.
Above is Eldar
I planned to spend the Saturday resting at home as London had really taken its toll on me, But, the weather was just too good and so I heading up to Cambridge. I spent the day shooting with Lewis (@Thiswascambridge), again I had another great day of street photography.
I came back from both Cambridge and London with some really good photos which I’m sharing here, Enjoy
The following are from Cambridge, starting with a candid photo of Matt (@the13thsecond)