Taken Word - Shoreditch/ Brick Lane
Once again I was rushing. I had to meet a friend at a certain spot and I had tucked away my camera. But what I did when I saw Roi, is unusual for me, I stopped him in his tracks. You see I have a general rule of not stopping people in movement because the likeliness of having any meaningful conversation is slim; chances are they’re heading somewhere and need to get there for a certain time(kind of like me on this very occasion). Although a bit guarded at first, Roi stopped and listened while I talked about my project and asked a little about him. Takeaway here is sometimes we must step outside of the norm, or give our box-of-rules a little flex. Or simply take a chance or risk at whatever, it’s only if you try, you’d know. It can go either way but at least you’d know… And at least you’ve tried.
Continuing the discussion from 2 posts ago. I hinted that there are similarities in all of us and in conversation with Andre, we went in depth and still only touched the surface as to how similar we all are. But there are contributors to what do make us (appear)different; cultural, demographic, and environmental are all influences that define or fine tune our individuality. The thing is, we can all feel happy, sad or angry but those influences may help explain the why. We discussed the differences like for example why Londoners are so-called grumpy, and that that’s part to do with the Environment and Climate. Standing at this corner in #Bricklane, we chatted for almost an hour(maybe more). Looking around, we saw every nationality that anyone can think about and marvelled at how similar they can actually be to us, at the same time, highlighting some of our own similarities.
Just Do It: No this in not a @Nike slogan! This is about doing something, whatever that is, without wondering whether you will be accepted. I know that is easier said than done, and fear of course still loiters in all of us. I can only speak for myself, as a creative that it is never easy. Every time I post a photograph I think of the audience, if I will be accepted. That same fear(which is connected to passion in some way) can hinder me from moving forward. One of the things that I tend not to do, is shoot in low light unless I have a tripod. It is now that time of the year when it gets dark at 4pm and on this day, I thought, let me chance it. It’s either I take the risk, or I don’t get the shot at all. But the questions in my head starts, what about the grain that appears in photos by shooting in low light? Would it not be accepted because the light isn’t flattering? So I can sit here procrastinating, or I can hit the publish button. What I am getting at is, do not be afraid about being accepted in whatever you do, otherwise you would sit forever, staring at the publish button. p.s. fear still lurks
I’d just come out of the street food market in Shoreditch. I walked past a group of guys painting a wall which was going to be an advert for @absolutuk/ @absolutvodka. I have never seen first-hand how this is done but I was astonished by these artists. They were literally using an A4 print of what the finished product should look like. There was a crew doing it but I’d only manage to have a chat to one, Darren. More and more I’m meeting people like myself which reminds me so much of how we are all connected. There are similarities I’m seeing in everyone I speak to, some more so than others but similarities nevertheless. Someone commented today that I meet quite a mix of people on my travels, which is true in appearance but what about the likenesses? To be continued…
This was another accidental encounter – I mean how often do you get to chat with your bus driver, And take their photo too! It was great meeting Pat – her story, again, I would not have known had I not have a conversation. So, it seems like there is a lot of change going on behind the scenes in #London. I mean, the cost of living is high as it is, then there is Pickles story from a previous post about the gentrification in London. Now it seems that London Bus Drivers don’t get paid when they’re at the garage waiting to be released, or when they’re at a stand waiting(like Pat in this image) even if it’s not by choice, and although they are on the job. Nor do they get paid when they are on a break, which by law in the UK, is after 5.5hrs driving time. So literally, when the engine starts and they punch in their code, their meter starts running. In spite of it all, Pat still maintains a great big smile and loves what she do. So when next you get irritated with a bus driver, just have a think about what they may be going through.
Recently, what I’ve been getting better at is seeing. I am definitely one, like most Londoners, that can leave home, get on the bus and train and get to where I’m going, blindfolded! I don’t think we’re programmed this way, I think we’ve all evolved into focusing on what’s directly in front of us. With social media and the internet at our finger tips, it’s even more so. It is one of our priorities and the main concern is battery life. While I was untangling the cable for my portable charger and focusing on google maps to direct me to the nearest underground station, I saw Katherine and did what I find myself doing a lot lately, I back-tracked. I think it’s because I am becoming observant to my surroundings more and more lately. Utilising all of my peripheral and intentionally noticing the beauty that’s around.
I respect anyone that are happy in whatever they do. When I worked in the corporate sector, I managed a team of four. I would always tell them that whatever they do in life, put a 110% in it. Of course, I wanted them to do their best but it was more about the outlook on life. I grew up believing that and it’s evidently taken me from one place to another, usually a “higher place”. I think this perspective sets apart true successors, and well the others. That’s what I got from this young lady; it was a Saturday afternoon and I’m pretty sure she’d rather be getting ready to go and hang out with her friends. Instead, she had to work and her presence was so on fire. Every customer that approached this pizza truck she worked at in Brick Lane, was greeted with big smiles and a warm personality. I did not get a chance to chat to her but it almost felt like she was excited to be there and she loved working at the pizza truck
Its really sad sometimes when I hear stories like this from other creatives. Actually, it is the world we live in where the strong survive. It is a reminder however, that as a creative myself, I have to give it all. It’s in my nature anyway to keep pursuing, keep evolving, keep growing as an artist and person. There is room for all of us still. What’s beautiful is that, in spite of her story, Allyce keeps smiling; what a radiant person she is. Initially, I saw an interesting individual that’s going from door to door. It’s only after conversation, when I took out my camera, her story unfolded.
I don’t always get to have a big chat with the people I encounter. This gorgeous lady, I met whilst doing a photoshoot of another person at their work location. I was working and not doing my street photography project. I’d actually taken a break from filing with the guys @on.set for the #streetphotographydocumentary to do this job, before re-joining them(that’s how I roll). So although I was in a rush and Brooke needed to get back to work, I humbly asked if I can take her photograph. My own thoughts were, a strong courageous person that isn’t fazed much. What is great in life is that we can find such strength from others, and a lot of people I meet, I absorb what I need. Isn’t that part of this whole living thing is about anyway? Sharing, learning, growing…
Ok, I think it’s becoming redundant now; me talking about the coincidence of bumping into creatives. Yet another one.. actually, I will leave it to you to guess next time. I was actually in a hurry, hustling to catch the underground with @on.set, on the film set of #London! We were on our way to meet @ecolephoto, a London legend and yes another creative(I’d hit myself in a minute). Then I did a back step when I saw this guy! It’s like the magnet draws me and I cannot help myself. We then got into chatting and as usual, I got carried away and deep in conversation because he’s such a cool lad. It wasn’t before long, I felt a tap on my shoulder – it was one of the film crew @adxn_ reminding me that we’re going underground. I’m just loving the interaction with strangers and now itching as I type this, to go out on the streets again.
Once again, I hit the streets of #Shoreditch and #Bricklane. This time, I was invited by @on.set to document my process of walking up to strangers on the street. They are doing a documentary on street photography and the impact social media has, if any, as many photographers use platforms such as @instagram to share their work. I also met a few other photographers that likewise were being recorded and I must say, I enjoyed the day hanging out with these like-minded people. On the topic of like-minded people, I shared recently about the coincidental running ins to other creatives of different sorts. And this day was no exception. When the group started off, I saw this lovely lady with her friend. At first, she was talking on her mobile and I just lingered, looking around aimlessly but really waiting to have a quick chat and grab a photo of her, too.
One thing I find very common in the people I meet, is art. In some shape or form, art seem to reside in a lot of us. Maybe we are drawn to each other or maybe it’s pure coincidence? I’ve just done the math and no cheating, 70% of the people that I’ve stopped and photographed are an artist of some sort namely, painters, writers, DJ, Tattoo Artist, knitter, photographer, street painter, dancer, actor and textile designer. These are just off the top of my head. I would not lie, when I saw @hannahreuter.textiles standing by this corner, I was drawn to her colours and vibrant personality that shun through. And my God, after looking at her work online, I am truly inspired, by this other form of art.
So I don’t always choose who I’m going to photograph and meet. As a matter of fact, this was a pure coincidence but as my friend told me recently, there are no coincidences. As we(me and my friend @tonybegins) were walking, moments after chatting to pickles(see last post), we heard a car honking vigorously. We turned around to see this guy cycling up the street with a car behind him honking for him to get out of the way. It was the perfect contrast between guy on a bike going at a slow stride and guy in a car, contributing to the hustle and bustle in an area where you have just that contrast, #Shoreditch. The man on the bike eventually pulled to the side where I stood and we started chatting.
It’s funny how things can be happening around us. Lives living; struggles, battles, failures, winnings, success, change, freedom. The list goes on. They say looks can be deceiving – While that might be true, in this case it wasn’t. I saw this lady walking out of a vintage shop with a table and other bits she had bought. Immediately I thought she looked interesting and I wanted to take her photograph. What I didn’t know is that she had an even more interesting story to tell. We spoke about the social cleansing and what I did not know was that Tens of thousands of poor families have left inner #London in the past five years as a result of welfare cuts and soaring rents. We discussed how the city is changing and a lot of the natural things that people enjoy, is slowly getting diminished by the big contractors coming in and making way for the people that have money. Pickles had been affected by this change several times when she’d even become homeless and had to sleep under a bridge.
Once again, I had a great time on the streets of #shoreditch. I had walked out the public toilets when I saw this guy sitting and having a smoke by himself. To be honest, there was something about him…actually, there’s something about everyone that I’ve photographed. Something that draws me to them. In all honesty, I was not thinking of taking his photograph but I just walked and said hey, how’s it going. Then immediately we got into conversation and I thoroughly enjoyed our chat. It’s only after, I thought I must make a photograph of him. He is a homeless guy, living on the streets of East London. The best thing of it all, it was not about a beggar asking for money, or me giving. As a matter of fact, he asked for nothing. We just enjoyed each other’s company and said at the end “goodbye, take care”
I met with my really good friend @ bellenie01 one day for lunch. It was a catch up really as I hadn’t seen her for some time. We spoke about business mostly, as well as general things that friends catch up on. I also shared my personal project(this one) with her and she thought it was amazing and liked the concept. Because I’d been covering specific areas around London and the UK, she suggested I do #Shoreditch. She loved the idea so much that she asked if she can come along. So it is really because of her, I visited this area and met those amazing people that I captured and shared recently. Because I had my camera with me, I thought why not make a photograph of her. It got me thinking though – why not share this experience, of walking up to random people on the street and engaging with them. I had asked previously on Facebook, for suggestions for the next place to visit and had gotten Feedback too. A few people has also asked if they can come along sometime. I still haven’t done it as yet but I am excited about the idea and will put it into play. Do leave a comment if you are interested in joining me for a day
The #CommercialTavern in #shoreditch is a quirky little place. It’s like stepping into a different dimension; when I walked up to the bar to order, I was served by this vibrant person with a vibrant personality. I had arrived to Shoreditch in the late afternoon and the light was slowly fading so I had given up on any chance of making a great photograph. But when I saw this bar lady I thought, I need to get a picture and have a quick chat, so I asked her. She said sure no problem, I’d see you outside in a few minutes. It was funny, because my mind was on the light diminishing, I fumbled quite clumsily with my camera and adjusting the setting(while she patiently waited)…then I heard “SMASH”. It was my camera bag, which was still on my back, smashed a mug of beer on the ground. She then ran inside, grabbed a broom and dust pan and cleaned up. We then thought it was a better idea to cross the road where it was less busy. I guess the moral of this story is to be patient with life. And even when time seem to be rushing by, the results in the end may prove to be more rewarding. Like this image, because of this setting that was created by a series of events, is now one of my favs.
I walked up to this guy in #shoreditch and blatantly asked “so are you a photographer?”, for the obvious reason. We did get into talking, mostly about politics really and some of the issues the Caribbean islands still face, up to today. Namely a divide(some call it racism) between the blacks and the indians(Asians, to be politically correct). It isn’t very prominent, we both agreed but when it comes to election and other national issues, it becomes obvious. Now at some point in the conversation, I remembered saying but you aren’t that older than me. He said really, so you’re almost 72 then? To be honest, I still can’t believe it, 72!. His voice is as young as mine(eh hem) and his skin does not have any wrinkles.
I remember that my eye was drawn directly to the dog because his face looked so vicious! On the contrary, he was such a placid fella. And his owner Steve was a very cool guy – we had a nice chat and he told me about the history behind his dog.
I saw this guys standing and looking at the #caligraffiti on the wall. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “he’s looking to take it down”. It’s only when I saw the dried red, black and white paint on his hands, I realised, it was he that put it up. I guess he reminded me of @banksy. But of course he wasn’t, he was brilliant in his own art. I love the freedom of expression really – let art be!
After chatting to Will, I took a bit of a wonder around #Shoreditch and I
Shoreditch: I came out of Shoreditch high street and did not know which way to go. Where can I find interesting encounters? So I walked past this bar and asked one of the guys working there – where do I find interesting people to photograph, he said everywhere. Then I said ok thanks.. he then came outside for a break and I thought, why not photograph him; to be honest, the light where he sat looked interesting. Then I asked him to tell me a bit about him. You will read Will’s story below but I’ve got a point here! Sometimes we really get caught up in our own little bubble. For me, I may look for someone I can approach and most “importantly” someone that would make an interesting photograph, forgetting that the main point of my project was to engage with people. Yes I admit that it was the lighting that attracted me to photograph Will but he actually had the most interesting story of all and he was the nicest guy too!